Ray Comfort admits that the title of this book is not the best. No parent is capable of bringing their children to Christ, nor to keep them there, both being a work of God. Still he chose to stick with the title (p. 13). Nor does the author turn Proverbs 22:6 into a promise that all children raised in a godly home will turn out great (pp. 7-8), yet he strongly implies that his children did because he and his wife “adhered to certain guidelines and principles from God’s Word” (p. 18), and because they prayed for their children’s salvation (p. 22). Taken too far these all but guarantee a crisis of faith for parents if their children do not come to Christ, and live for Him.
In fairness Comfort is rightly concerned about the danger of false conversions (pp. 14, 23-26, 81-92, 130). False conversions happen often because children have not been taught the true nature of sin and therefore they do not know what they have done when they make a supposed confession of faith (pp. 25, 69, 89, 90-91). Comfort’s remedy to this problem, as anyone familiar with his “The Way of the Master” knows, is to clearly present and explain the Ten Commandments. He believes the “Ten Commandments are the very backbone of Holy Scripture” (p. 47). They are the means of getting rid of the monster (presumably, the old nature or flesh) (pp. 64-65, 140). The Ten Commandments have the power to change us (p. 68) and even convert us (p. 74), as well as pump our children up about the things of God (p. 87). Let me say at this point that the Ten Commandments do reveal the nature of sin and, to a point, reflect the moral nature of God. As a result they can be used to demonstrate our sin and show us a need for a Saviour. However, Comfort confuses the role of the Ten Commandments in several ways:
- They do not in fact have the power to change us or convert us. This is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit. The Law can reveal sin but it cannot transform us.
- The Ten Commandments reflect the moral nature of God but they do not exhaust it. God’s moral demands are broader than the Ten Commandments.
- As a corollary, God’s moral nature existed before the giving of the Ten Commandments and is revealed not only in the Law but in nature and in our conscience (Romans 1, 2),
- The Ten Commandments were given specifically to the Jews. While there is much overlap in all people groups and in all times, they were never given to Gentiles.
- Comfort sees Galatians 3:24 as teaching that the Law is a means by which we are led to Christ for salvation; the context however is of the Law serving as a tutor in charge of Israel until the coming of Christ. Now that Christ has come, no one is under the Law (v. 25).
- Comfort believes that Christ and the apostles always used the Ten Commandments in their evangelism (p. 89). That is clearly not the case. One mistake he makes in this regard is to equate every use of the Law with the Ten Commandments, which cannot be sustained. The Mosiac Law was actually composed of 613 laws, many of which have no direct bearing on the Christian.
At best, using the Ten Commandments in evangelism is “a” method that has value in revealing the true nature of sin. It is hardly the only method but it certainly has some merit. However, the evangelist must be clear that people are not lost because they fail to keep the Ten Commandments, but because they have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ. For those desiring to use “The Way of the Master” method, this volume is helpful. Comfort goes through the meaning of each of the Ten Commandments (pp. 93-127), provides many creative techniques to use with children to explain them (pp. 49, 94-95, 100-101, 104, 118-119, 120-121, 123-124, 154-155, 157), emphasizes the importance of repentance (p. 132) and rightly shows that the Christian life is a call to self-denial (p. 161).
Not everyone agrees with Comfort’s strong views on homeschooling (pp. 150-153), insulting language (e.g. “cigarette smokers are dumber that the dumbest of dumb sheep”—p. 159), and motivation by guilt (pp. 120, 164). But if you are convinced that the key to winning souls is the Law (p. 168), which I am not, How to Bring Your Children to Christ will provide you with many resources.
How to Bring Your Children to Christ…& Keep Them There by Ray Comfort (Bartlesville, OK: Genesis Publishing Group, 2005) 175 pp., Hard $9.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/teacher, Southern View Chapel.