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The myth of the myth

January 9th, 2010 Posted in The Art of Parenting, Theology

Leslie Fields muddles about in Calvinism and Darwinism before arriving at good advice for every Christian parent, which is to pray your child toward Heaven. I think “the perfect parent myth,” however, is itself a myth. None of us envisions he can be a perfect parent. But we ache for our children to know God, and if we are wise, we prepare the ground of our children’s hearts, as Wife says, to be fertile. If we neglect it, the weeds grow up.

Faith indeed comes from God. But parents have a profound influence on the state of the soul in which those seeds are planted. Need we be perfect parents? No, thank God. But should we throw up our hands and trust predestination or sola fide or good genes or whatever else we think might substitute for the daily work of yielding Christians?

May it never be. Pray for them. Teach them to pray. Teach them the Scriptures. Bring them into the Church. Love them, love them, love them. Love them unto death, so that they come to know this kind of love before they can name it.

Do children always grow to walk a good path? No, because they have free will. Actual free will, not the pseudo-free will Calvin dreamed up. Which is precisely why what we do matters.

How providential, if you will, that just this morning a friend sent me these words from St. John Chrysostom:

“We are directed by free will and not, as some say, subjected to the compulsion of inescapable fate. That is why God has given us the promise of his kingdom but also threatened us with punishment.  He would not have done that to people in the toils of necessity.  He would not have laid down laws, he would not have given us exhortations if we had been prisoners of destiny. . . The myth of a compelling destiny is nonsense.  Our lives are subject to no unavoidable fate.  Everything, as I have argued, points to the beauty of free will.”