How do children (or anyone else) learn? How do they think?

Additional Note: By the way, in case anyone wonders, I’m glad that this blog is engaging in a conversation with Doug Wilson about paedocommunion, and appreciate the tone. I didn’t think I needed to spell this out, but I am second-guessing that decision now (for no reason other than my imagination; I have seen no feedback).

I do not think that most 6-year-olds would be able to understand the significance of the Lord’s Supper. Maybe I have seen too many modern-day public school educated 6-year-olds. My daughter is 5 and nowhere near ready, in my opinion, and she will not be publicly educated, at least for the first grades. In fact, to my knowledge, she hasn’t even asked about what the bread and the wine mean yet. We’re still working on what Jesus Christ means, and His sacrifice. After that, we’ll move on to the physical sign He has given us of His Person and work.

via Bread and Generalizations « Green Baggins.

Interesting.  My first son started spontaneously telling me the significance of the bread and wine, as body and blood of our Lord, when he was four, I think.

But my first pastorate was in a practicing paedocommunion church so he had been living this reality for at least a couple of years.  He learned the meaning of the Lord’s supper the same way the Israelites in the wilderness were taught the Sabbath–by eating.

How else would the Lord want to disciple the children of the Church?

There seems to me to be something fundamental that needs to be addressed.  Wittgenstein addressed it when he began Philosophical Investigations with a quotation of Augustine claiming to have learned to speak as an infant by means of ostensive definition.  Wittgenstein dismantles this claim, but not many Christians care about Wittgenstein.

Cartesian Christianity is the default practice of the churches now.

6 thoughts on “How do children (or anyone else) learn? How do they think?

  1. pentamom

    Leaving aside all the other issues raised here, what exactly does it mean to “work on” understanding the physical sign, once the child has grasped “what Jesus Christ means, and His sacrifice”? I would think that once the child has a working knowledge that Jesus died to take away my sins, then instructing the child about the physical sign would be a matter of, “And the bread is a picture of Him giving His body for us.” Of course there is more to it, and of course there’s the whole question you raise, but even from Mr. Keister’s point of view, I can’t understand what’s so all-fired complex about some of this that the idea of a six year old, even “a modern day public school educated one,” grasping this is hard for him to grasp. Is this another example of thinking that our kids are all little post-Trent Catholics who have to be dissuaded of Roman errors before we can be sure they grasp the gospel? I can’t figure out what else could be the danger, even under a reasonable credo-com understanding of I Cor. 11, of letting a six year old commune, who knows that Jesus died to take away his sins and that Jesus gave us the bread and wine so that we would know it.

  2. Chris Zodrow

    Nicely put. My daughters did the same. They were articulating, in their very cute and sweet way, the body and blood of Christ as soon as they were able to speak. They too were eating prior to that moment. Now, being a bit older, there has not been a moment of “transition” for them. They have always been the Lord’s, and they love Him. They eat with abandon.

    Nn Christ,

  3. mark Post author

    Pentamom, you remind me of a comment I made somewhere (perhaps in a deleted entry) about a teacher quizzing a child as to whether he or she “sincerely” believes 2 + 2 = 4.

    On the other hand, this strikes me as a teacher claiming that a child doesn’t know how to play a game because he hasn’t memorized the rules, even though the child has demonstrated that he is perfectly capable of playing the game.

    There is a place for memorizing rules. It even serves an essential purpose. But a referee would be an athlete and not a referee, if he knew the game as well as the athletes in the game. Reformed Theology seems to be a version of the “game” of Christianity where in the referees claim that they are the best players.

    Or the best teachers.

  4. Jim Irwin

    I have to say that I have quit reading Green Baggins as I consider him “out to lunch” on many issues; besides he is part of that group of individuals who would like to get rid of Dr. Rayburn.

    But thanks to you, Mark, that when I understood from your teaching (when you were my minister) the concept of infant baptism, it became a logical and intuitive leap to accept the idea of paedocommunion. I’ve never looked back.

  5. Pingback: Mark Horne » Is being able to talk and write certian statements on demand really “the art of living to God”?

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