Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids? How Moralism Suffocates Grace by Samuel C. Williamson
With such a provocative title, this little book by Samuel Williamson is sure to interest those who invest their lives in Sunday school and in raising children for the Lord. The premise of the book is that until we understand the amazing grace of God in every part of the Christian life, our children will succumb to a lethal injection of moralism that will cause much ruin in their lives. Sam writes in the beginning, “Grace means we are both unworthy of God’s love yet profoundly loved by him nevertheless, both at the same time” (v). Some preachers tend to focus on the unworthiness of humans, thus squashing any hope of adequately seeing God’s love, whereas some miss the sin part to focus on the love aspect. Yet, both elements are essential to the gospel message.
The problem with many Bible curriculums for kids is that they bring to bear an unbiblical basis on morals. Be like Abraham or Paul fails to see the full picture of these men of the Bible, for they sinned also. God pursues us in his love from the very beginning. Sam has a wonderful way of thinking about the stories of the Bible. He writes, “David was a murdering adulterer, and God loved him and pursued him, Abraham was an idol worshiper, and God love him and pursued him” (6). Sam goes onto write, “Our heroes weren’t loved because they were good; they became good because they were loved” (6).
Sam indicates in the next chapter that our kids are leaving the church because they can’t distinguish the gospel from mere morality (11). Willpower fuels morality and thus heaps burdens on our people that they can’t possibly bear. Mere morality deals with external behavior but not the motivations of the heart, this is why we must get to the bottom of things before we give direction in godly living, including morals. Yet, the greatest enemies of Jesus were the moralists (29). How do we get beyond moralism, but through an understanding of grace, our sin, and God’s sacrificial giving of his Son. When we are motivated by grace, we see others sins as another opportunity for God to reveal his mercy, just as he did for us.
I really appreciated this book as a way to remind me of God’s grace and as a way to remind me that I easily slip into moralism. My only criticism is that I wish it was longer.
Thanks to Beliefs of the Heart Press and SpeakEasy for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.