Is there anything a 19th century Anglican Bishop can teach modern Christian parents about training their children? In short, absolutely! As Trinitas parents gather this week for the first Parent Traditio of the new year, they will be discussing a short essay written by J. C. Ryle entitled The Duties of Parents. In it, Bishop Ryle shares seventeen specific directives for Christian parenting that are gospel-centered and rooted in common sense while also practical and encouraging.
Parents unconcerned about their child’s soul and those who have no taste for being admonished toward good works will find no benefit in this essay, but for everyone else, there are plentiful riches easily mined from the words of Bishop Ryle. For example, consider this:
“A true Christian must be no slave to fashion, if he would train his child for heaven. He must not be content to do things merely because they are the custom of the world; to teach them and instruct them in certain ways, merely because it is usual; to allow them to read books of a questionable sort, merely because everybody else reads them; to let them form habits of a doubtful tendency, merely because they are the habits of the day. He must train with an eye to his children’s souls. He must not be ashamed to hear his training called singular and strange. What if it is? The time is short—the fashion of this world passes away. He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for earth—for God, rather than for man—he is the parent that will be called wise at last.”
Hardly could the task of Christian parenting be made any more plain? Parenting of this sort is profoundly counter-cultural. It flies in the face of the plethora of modern philosophies that deny Christian doctrines of original sin and the ordinary means of grace. Families, churches, and schools must be aligned if children are to be dutifully trained into the Christian faith.
May the Lord be pleased to cause every Christian parent and especially those within the Trinitas community to be motivated by the magnitude of the task before them and the blessings of taking seriously the Duties of Parents.