Prompted by this note about a review of a book by Justin Peters, Do Not Hinder Them, I decided to purchase the book and see what Peters had to say. As I've mentioned "a time or two" on this site, the sad reality is that far too many "seeds" do not sprout, and it's something that's killing our churches.
The main thrust of the book, in my view, is Peters' view of the age of accountability--the doctrine that below a certain age, all children are given grace by God whether or not they personally confess Christ. In Peters' view, that age is somewhere around the ages of ten to twelve, somewhere near the age of a Bar Mitzvah, and where Dorothy Sayers noted the "poll parrot" stage of education ends, and the "pert" age begins. In the language of classical education, it's about the age when a child can begin to use the tools of logic/dialectic.
Now as a Baptist myself, I am of course quite amenable to the notion of an age of accountability. The simple fact is that infants do die occasionally, and that just as David noted that he would go to Bathsheba's child, there is some indication of grace to the child when he's that young. I can also commend the idea that there are some things the very young cannot really understand, and that the practice of thinking logically may be involved in coming to Christ.
And yet....and yet....I cannot completely go along with his thesis, as his very title refers to Matthew 19:13-15, which notes that Jesus specifically says to let the little children come to Him. Not teens, not youths, but little children.
Moreover, if a key issue with people falling away from Christ was age, then the Scripture might have said that specifically (it doesn't IMO), and we would not see the huge fallout from college age conversions that we do.
So it is a good effort, but ultimately it is one that does not persuade me. I am 100% in agreement that revivalism and its techniques bear a lot of false fruit. I am 100% in agreement that our "evangelism light" or "easy believism" culture tends to leave people defenseless against the challenges of life--persecution, the need to grow and repent, and the like. But at the same time, I am not persuaded that our problems will be solved as we refuse to immerse the young.
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