Why is Payne Pained?

In the last post I recognized Daniel A. Payne as a Christian hero for his unswerving commitment to Scripture. This passionate man of faith spoke to his generation about the need of a biblically literate and theologically educated pasorate. This was not his only desire, however. He also acutely felt the biblical responsibility to disciple his children in a biblical worldview. The obstacles he encountered to this desire, even brought him to a point of crisis in his faith:

“Sometimes it seemed as though some wild beast had plunged his fangs into my heart, and was squeezing out its life blood. I began to question the existence of the Almighty and to say, if indeed there is a God, does he deal justly? Is he a just God? Is he a holy Being? If so, why does he permit a handful of dying men thus to oppress us? Why does he permit them to hinder me from teaching these children when nature, reason and Revelation commanded me to teach them?” (Thabiti M. Anybwile, The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity, p. 63.)

Payne had the passion of Job and the zeal of Paul. It was clear to Payne that the three complementary forces of nature, reason and revelation all communicated our God-given obligation as Christians to teach our children. At this moment in American history we are not prevented from teaching our children. This is something to give great thanks to God for. The same freedoms and opportunities were not available for all African Americans in Payne’s day. We do not know what kind of freedoms we will continue to possess in our day.

There is a lesson to be drawn from this. If this godly man was thrust into such a crisis of faith over not being allowed to teach his children, how is it today that large masses of people are utterly indifferent to this responsibility?  The tempation in our day is to pass off as much responsibility as we can on someone else. A consequence of our reflection upon Payne’s pain, then,  is that it should be inconceivable to us that we would neglect to teach our children in the short time that they are still with us as children. It is our perrogative, privelege and duty to indoctrinate a biblical worldview in to the minds and hearts of our children for the time that God has given them to us.


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