Sunday School is a relatively late development in the history of the Christian church. The first Sunday school was established by the English Methodist Robert Raikes at the end of the 18th century. Sunday school originally was intended as a means to reach the children of unbelieving parents, not the children of church members. However, in the middle decades of the 19th century a growing number of church members enrolled their children in Sunday schools. Some Christians, especially Presbyterians and Baptists, were not convinced of the Scriptural warrant for Sunday school in teaching the Bible to the children of Christians. In 1832, a Reformed Baptist denomination, the Primitive (in the sense of harkening back to "primitive" or early Christianity) Baptists stated:
"Sunday schools claim the honor of converting their tens of thousands; of leading the tender minds of children to the knowledge of salvation, [just] as the preaching of the gospel [does] that of bringing adults to the same knowledge, etc. Such arrogant pretensions, we feel bound to oppose. First, because they are grounded upon the notion that conversion or regeneration is produced by impressions made upon the natural mind by means of religious sentiments instilled into it; and if the Holy Ghost is allowed to be at all concerned in the thing, it is in a way which implies His being somehow blended with the instruction, or necessarily attendant upon it; all of which we know to be wrong.
"Secondly, because such schools were never established by the apostles, nor commanded by Christ. There were children in the days of the apostles. The apostles possessed as great desire for the salvation of souls, as much love to the cause of Christ, and knew as well what God would own for bringing persons to the knowledge of salvation, as any do at this day. We, therefore must believe that if these schools were of God, we should find them in the New Testament.
"The Scriptures enjoin upon parents to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
"But while we stand thus opposed to the plan and use of these Sunday schools in every point, we wish to be distinctly understood that we consider Sunday schools for the purpose of teaching poor children to read, whereby they may be enabled to read the Scriptures for themselves, in neighborhoods where there is occasion for them, and when properly conducted, without that ostentation so commonly connected with them, to be useful and benevolent institutions, worthy of the patronage of all the friends of civil liberty (Cited in Mike Strevel. "Family Church," in Quit You Like Men, October 1994. pp.11-12)."
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