Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beware this Halloween Children's Tract. THEOLOGY FAIL

Being in children's ministries a lot of different stuff comes across my desk. A lot of stuff is from churches trying to offload their "Sunday School surplus". In that case I try to give them information for area churches who might benefit from the materials as I'm rather limited to the kinds of materials that I'm allowed to use. Many people give me shoeboxes full of tracts for children and adults. Honestly, most of those are best suited to help start the fires in my chimenia stove thing on our patio in the evenings. But in the past week I recieved a particular Halloween children's tract from yet another well meaning individual that I just had to share with you all. It's bad folks, really bad. Oh, it's attractive and well put together cosmetically, but the theology is bad. Bad bad. Hellfire and brimstone heretically bad.

This tract is tract number 285 from "The Tract League" in Grand Rapids, MI. ( What scares me overall is two fold. #1: The poor, heretical teachings. #2: You can purchase these for $1.25 a dozen or 100 for $8.00 plus postage, which worries me as to how many of these heretical things have actually been passed out to children. The image at the side of this post is the actual tract. The only editing I have done is to arrange the pages into one vertical column to fit nicely in this post. I have not edited it in any way besides this layout. Everything else that you see is as it's printed. Here are just a few of my concerns with this tract. There are more, but I'm just going to hit a few highlights:

CONCERN #1: The third point of this tract teaches the reader that they must live to please God in order to be saved. This is teaching works-righteousness. HUGE problem. They sight Galations 6:7-8, which would make sense if you believe in the heretical teaching of works-righteousness. They could be blending justification with sanctification here possibly. I don't know for sure. Apparently Acts 16:31 or John 1:12-13 was overlooked. Their third point here was absolute garbage. (incidently, this point is in direct contrast to what they say in the first paragraph next to the cowboy guy. "The Bible says that all who believe in Him are saved from the devil and given eternal life.")  This could have been a point to talk about sin, how all have sinned, are born in sin, and that we can do nothing in and of ourselves to do anything about our sin, as well as what the penalty for this sin is.

CONCERN #2: Speaking of sin, it's not even mentioned until the end of the tract! There's no definition of it, no explanation that we are all guilty of it, no explanation that prior to Christ we are helpless to it and can do nothing escape the punishment for it.

CONCERN #3:  This tract essentially puts the reader in relation to God and the Devil. It's kind of like they're trying to convince the reader to be a part of God's team vs. being a part of the Devil's team. Uh, it's not that you're either on God's team or the Devil's team. It's you're either saved by God or you go to Hell. Satan doesn't have a team. He's condemned. Hell is his punishment and not his realm of rule. They really botch things in the first paragraph next to the cowboy guy when they say "The Bible says that all who believe in Him are saved from the devil and given eternal life." Those who are in Christ are not saved from the Devil. In fact, in many cases, those who are in Christ are under more spiritual attack than those who are unbelievers. We aren't saved from the Devil, we are saved from the punishment of sin, which is Hell. Once again, the Devil doesn't rule Hell. It's his punishment.

CONCLUSION: There's several more things I could go on about, but I just wanted to hit a few highlights. If you're a Confessional Lutheran or a Reformed reading this, I think it's pretty safe to assume that we probably have the same opinion about the prayer at the end. I could go on several more paragraphs just on the prayer they have.

Despite that this particular tract is heretical in it's teaching, is passing out tracts at Halloween to Trick or Treaters a bad idea? I don't think so. Just make sure it's biblically sound. It's a great opportunity to share Law and Gospel to kids that you probably won't have opportunities to later. That being said, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to include the address of your church. In fact I strongly suggest doing that. Let's say that a child who reads the tract that you gave him does indeed have faith as a result of hearing the word of God. There are "churches" that I don't need to name that we don't want them going to to be discipled at. Put your church info on or with that tract so that they can be biblically discipled. Also, it wouldn't have been the first time that parents and families were introduced to church and the Gospel through a child.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

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