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Raising children and the church

I just returned this week from the World Congress of Families IV in Warsaw, Poland. This is supposedly the largest pro-family organization in the world with over 3,300 delegates participating in this year’s congress. Among the dizzying statistics cited regarding the demographic winter of Europe (steadily decreasing birthrates leading to negative population growth) and the demise of the traditional family around the world, I heard the following statistic: “Teen girls from intact families with frequent religious attendance averaged the fewest sexual partners (0.47) when compared to (a) their peers from non-intact families with frequent religious attendance (0.93), (b) peers from intact families with low to no religious attendance (1.14), and (c) peers from non-intact families with low to no religious attendance (1.55)” (cited here by the speaker). As the father of two young girls, this statistic scares me. Of course statistics can be made to say almost anything, but the general idea is that daughters of intact families who frequently attend religious services are much less likely to have pre-marital sexual partners—and if they do, there are usually fewer partners. On the positive side, we can say that churchgoers in intact families are less likely to have daughters who participate in pre-marital sexual activity. On the negative side, it still shows quite a bit of sexual activity on the part of churchgoing teenage girls from intact families.

So, what can we do with this information? First, we need to proclaim from the mountaintops the importance of the intact (not divorced/separated), traditional (one man, one woman) family. Second, we need to cry out to God from our knees for the grace and wisdom to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Taking your kids to church is not the solution—walking with the Lord and trusting His wisdom for parenting is. Even if we do everything perfectly, we are not guaranteed perfect children. However, we can rest in the words of Solomon in Proverbs 22:6, which reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

First Freedom: The Baptist Perspective on Religious Liberty

 SBC Witness is pleased to learn of the release of First Freedom: The Baptist Perspective on Religious Liberty from B&H Academic. The volume is edited by Thomas White, Jason Duesing, and Malcolm Yarnell, all historically savvy theologians associated with Southwestern Seminary. The essays in the book had their genesis at Southwestern's first annual Baptist Distinctives Conference, hosted by the seminary's Smith Center for Leadership Development and Center for Theological Research. Evan Lenow, one of our newest contributors at SBC Witness, was recently appointed director of the Smith Center. Read more in this Baptist Press release from Wednesday.

This book is further confirmation that one of the most exciting things happening in Southern Baptist life right now is the new material being produced by LifeWay, particularly in the B&H Academic division. The first two releases in the NAC Studies in Biblical Theology series have been well received: Jim Hamilton's God's Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit and the Old and New Testaments and Tom Schreiner and Shawn Wright's tour de force Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ. Also of note is the soon-to-be released systematic theology A Theology for the Church, edited by Danny Akin and including contributions from the brightest minds in SBC life. This will be the first systematic theology written by and for Southern Baptists since James Leo Garrett's two-volume Systematic Theology was published between 1990 and 1995. But more on that later.

First Freedom includes ten chapters, each of which is authored by a Southern Baptist scholar or other leader, many with considerable expertise or experience in issues related to religious liberty. Co-editor Duesing wrote the introduction. A list of the contributors and their essays is included below:

Ch. 1: Barrett Duke, "The Christian Doctrine of Religious Liberty"

Ch. 2: Paige Patterson, "Mutually Exclusive or Biblically Harmonius? Religious Liberty and the Exclusivity of Salvation in Jesus Christ"

Ch. 3: Thomas White, "The Defense of Religious Liberty by the Anabaptists and the English Baptists"

Ch. 4: Malcolm Yarnell, "Political Theology at the Foundation of the Southern Baptist Convention"

Ch. 5: Richard Land, "The Role of Religious Liberty in the Founding and Development of America"

Ch. 6: Craig Mitchell, "Natural Law and Religious Liberty"

Ch. 7: Daniel Heimbach, "Understanding the Difference Between Religious Liberty and Religious Autonomy"

Ch. 8: Russell Moore, "Conservative Christians in an Era of Christian Conservatives: Reclaiming the Struggle for Religious Liberty from Cultural Captivity"

Ch. 9: Emir Caner, "Fantasy or Possibility: Can Religious Liberty be Created in Islamic Countries?"

Ch. 10: Paul Pressler, "Contemporary Religious Liberty and the Judiciary in America: A Southern Baptist Jurist's Personal Perspective"

This looks to be a great book. Kudos to our friends at SWBTS for putting on the conference, and kudos to B&H Academic for publishing the proceedings from the conference.

P.S. If you are interested in this year's Baptist Distinctives Conference at SWBTS, click here for more information. The topic is The Family: Reclaiming a Biblical View of Family, Womanhood, and Manhood. Stay tuned to SBC Witness for more information about this upcoming conference.