I actually liked this recent offering by Mars Hill Church (yes, that church, pastored by Mark Driscoll)… until the last line. (Well, I like it except for all the passive voice. Why can’t it be “to serve my church” instead of “my church will be served by me”? They need a writer on staff.)

This poster of the vow is available on Driscoll's website.

I’m all for encouraging men (and women *ahem*) to step up, serve, love, pray, lead, and teach the Bible. I’m all for sharing our faith and living consistently with what we believe before our children and grandchildren.

*But*

The last line of this vow assumes that we can force our children to share our faith, and then force them to force their children to do the same.

This assumption is both foolish and tragic.

It is foolish because we do not have that kind of control over people. It is foolish to vow that your children and grandchildren will do anything. It’s like vowing that the people who buy your house will stay together, and that the people who buy the house from them will stay married too.

In addition, Driscoll makes a surprising departure from Calvinism with this statement. Calvinists believe that God chooses who will worship Him, and that none of us do anything to actually become one of God’s children. According to their understanding, God must first choose a person and make their dead soul alive before they can choose to serve Him. If God is the one doing the electing, the awakening, the choosing, then we cannot make our children and grandchildren worship our God. Mark Driscoll teaches that people can only choose to worship God if God chooses them first. He also knows that the Bible offers no guarantee that a Christian’s children will become Christians. So why did he make this Arminian statement (assuming people have free will to choose God on their own), and lead thousands of men to make that statement with him?

This vow is tragic because it has the potential to hurt generations of people. I am grieved for the fathers who have taken on a burden they cannot carry. I fear the misplaced guilt and agony that awaits them if their descendants choose differently. I fear for those children who will be bullied, manipulated, and coerced by fathers desperate to keep this vow, and who in turn will bully, manipulate, and coerce. This is a generational tragedy.

I suspect that Mark Driscoll intended to encourage fathers to think about the future — to remember that their children won’t stay young forever and eventually will have children of their own. It is good to keep perspective, and to consider whether we have shared the way we think and live and why we think and live that way to our children. A better way to say this would be to vow that we will share our faith with our children and grandchildren, and that our lives will be consistent with our words. Whether they choose to join us is up to them and God.

I would make such a vow and support anyone else willing to make such a commitment.

What do you think of this vow? Does passive voice annoy you? What do you think of my suggestion for the last line?

***

P.S. I’m looking for guest posts. I have a busy few weeks coming up, so I’d like to add some guest posts to my schedule to give me the time I need. You do not need to have a blog, and you may remain anonymous if you prefer. If you have a life:unmasked post you’d like me to consider, please email it to me at joy at joyinthisjourney dot com. Try to keep it under 800 words.