Over the past couple of weeks I have taken a couple of training courses in preparation for my new ministry as a house-parent; "Love and Logic" and "Developing Capable Young People". While taking these courses, I have noticed some similarities between them and the "Transition" series I listened to a few years ago, as well as the studies I'm currently doing in my spare time on the early Church Fathers.
At the heart of each of these is the idea that relationship should be the primary consideration over all else, including rules and moral code. There is the belief that the use of Power to enforce a set of rules or a moral code through threats, intimidation, and punishment is wholly ineffective in producing an "internal locus of control" or someone who is internally motivated to live a spirit-filled life.
In "Transition," Wayne asks us to re-consider the primary purpose of the Cross. Was it all about God's need to execute Justice on someone? Or was it about restoration -- our need to be cleansed and healed? He then asks us to consider what is driving us in our walk with God; Fear of punishment, or Love and Relationship? Do we change by obedience (effort), or through growing in a trusting relationship with God?
In "Love and Logic" and "Developing Capable Young People," the central idea is to win the heart of your child so that they know that they are loved. Then, through that connection, invite them to learn how to be in a healthy, mutually respectful relationship within the Family, and how to be a needed meaningful contributor to the Family. Within this context there are natural and logical consequences for negative behavior, but they are carried out in such a way that the child knows that the consequence was their choosing, not a punishment done 'to them'; this preserves the relationship between parent and child.
Finally, while reading on the early Church Fathers, I have been fascinated with how they wrestled with the idea of the Trinity. In particular many of the them reflected on the relationship between the Father and Son. They concluded that this relationship was unique, intimate, unbroken, and eternal. This relationship is wholly different from the relationship the Father, Son , and Sprit has with Creation. For them the astounding news of the Gospel is that, through our adoption in Christ, we get to participate in that unbroken, eternal relationship. We are invited into the circle of the Trinity, and are now sons and daughters. It it through participation in this Divine Life that we are remade into who we were meant to be all along.