“What?… Teach my children unbiblical ideas?”
Inoculate your children against compromise by teaching them the answers
Published: 24 May 2017 (GMT+10)
Previously published in a CMI newsletter, November 2016
I studied in two seminaries. One of these seminaries was very liberal in its theology. While most of my classmates entered this liberal seminary as biblical conservatives, throughout the first year, we were bombarded by one-sided theology from a number of liberal professors who wrongly taught us that the creation account was just a theological parable—one that had no bearing on real history or our faith. One professor even went to great lengths to point out supposed contradictions in the Bible in every single lecture he gave throughout the semester!
Many of my classmates were hearing these liberal theories for the first time, and by the end of the first year, a great majority of these once-conservative students now held to various, and seemingly convincing, liberal views of the Bible. Because they were never exposed to liberal theologies, or taught how to defend their faith, when these students heard these ‘novel’ ideas from their professors, they were “tossed to and fro… and carried about by every wind of doctrine … ” (Ephesians 4:14).
The students who remained conservative in their theology were ones who entered seminary already well-equipped with knowledge of these liberal theologies, and who knew how to counter them. I saw first-hand that in contrast to the earlier group who became liberal, they left the seminary much stronger in their faith, and far sharper in their apologetics.
If this can happen to conservative seminary students in just one year—many of whom were already earmarked for future pastoral and leadership roles in their respective churches—how much more would this hold true for young children who grow up bombarded daily by a culture immersed in evolutionary thinking? Without a defense, they are like defenceless lambs to the proverbial slaughter.
Some parents are afraid that teaching their children unbiblical ideas like evolution or atheistic arguments would cause them to stumble in their faith, but the opposite is true. Our children are going to be exposed to evolution whether we like it or not. It’s not a matter of ‘if’; it’s a matter of ‘when’. Knowing this, one of the best things we can do for our children is to teach them unbiblical ideas, or in short, how the world thinks. Because if we do not, others will provide seeming explanations that might seem more plausible.
Hebrews 5:14 tells us that “solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil”.
- We are commanded to raise up godly children so that they grow up to become spiritually mature Christians.
- Hebrews 5:14 tells us that one of the characteristics of someone who is spiritually mature, is that they are able to discern between good and evil through constant practice.
- Then it follows, that part of biblical parenthood/leadership involves teaching our children about unbiblical ideas and then training them to discern and defend their faith by thinking biblically.
One of the key challenges we face as a ministry is convincing families about the importance of the creation apologetic. Many say that the creation/evolution issue is nothing more than a side issue. They proclaim, “No one is raising these questions at home”—but that is actually the problem! When speaking in churches, it is evident when we ask for a show of hands, that the vast majority of all church-goers have nagging questions about creation and evolution. So, if your children are not asking you questions, that should be a big cause for concern. Chances are, your children have the same questions as everyone else, but they are not getting their answers at home. One of the biggest signs that your children are simply borrowing your faith is that they are not asking you questions! (See The No-Brainer Test). There may be a number of reasons why this is so.
One possible reason might be that they are just uninterested enough to ask questions. Unfortunately, this often means that they are also not equipped to answer the evolutionary objections that will almost certainly come their way. The more likely reason could be that deep inside, like many others in the church, they already assume, because these things are never talked about at church, that there are no answers to their questions. They regard it as pointless to upset or stumble others in the family by asking questions that might appear to contradict the Bible, even if they themselves struggle with belief.
Don’t let our young ones be future ‘Fallout!’ statistics
We often hear the statistics that two-thirds or more of all youths leave the church when they leave their homes for university. Unfortunately, this might give the false impression that these youths begin to doubt the Bible only after enrolling in university. It is more likely though, that most have been having festering doubts for many years, but not wanting to rock the boat, most of them simply borrow the faith of their parents until they leave for university and stop going to church altogether. Last month CMI launched a DVD survey of students on university campuses called Fallout!, and we made these DVDs available to you and your families at the ridiculously low price of 10 for $10. Why? So you could hear first-hand from students themselves—someone’s sons and daughters—as to why they left, or remained in the faith. We did this, in short, to help you and your church. Please spread these far and wide. Contrary to the claims that Creation apologetics is a side issue, our DVD confirms other studies that show while many churches treat faith as mostly an emotional experience, the main reason people leave the church is due to unanswered intellectual questions.1
Sadly, one of the common mantras of our day is “Don’t think, Just believe”. But ponder over that for a second: Is it really possible to believe something you already regard to be a logical contradiction? Is it possible to will oneself into believing that 2+2=5, while at the same time acknowledge that it is wrong? Certainly not. It might be possible for someone to go along with the idea that 2+2=5; but it is not possible for a person to truly believe that 2+2=5 is true when it is clearly wrong.
So why then should we expect our youth or anyone else to believe the Gospel, if in their minds, they think that there are scientific contradictions in the Word of God? For our children to be strongly rooted in the Gospel, they must know that the Bible is first of all, a trustworthy source of truth, and then learn to refute anti-biblical ideas (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:5)
Consider this analogy:
Imagine two students sitting for an examination. Which student would score higher?
- The student who simply sits for his examination;
- Or the student who anticipates the kind of questions his examiners would give him, and then trains himself to answer those very questions before the exam?
All things being equal, the second student will generally do better. In the same way, when we teach our children about unbiblical ideas and then teach them to defend their faith, it is not unlike the second student who trains himself to excel in his studies. It will make a profound difference in the spiritual life of our children. By teaching our children to defend their faith and to interpret the world around them through the biblical lens, we are teaching them to obey the greatest commandment in the Bible: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (cf. Matthew 22:36-38)
Here are some practical ways to train your children:
- Deliberately highlight unbiblical thinking in the media. For example, while watching a science fiction movie on aliens, point out to your children that the underlying premise of the movie assumes that if life has evolved on Earth, it must have also evolved on other planets. Then lead your children to biblical resources on why this is not possible. (See Did God create life on other planets? for example). Teach them to discern underlying biblical and anti-biblical principles in the culture around us.
- Teach them to understand why the ultimate authority is always the Word of God rather than ever-changing scientific models. Teach them the difference between experimental science and historical science; the role of presuppositions—that creationists and evolutionists share the same facts, but due to our differing worldviews, we interpret the facts differently. For example, show them a fossil and then ask them how long it took for that fossil to form. Show them how an evolutionary worldview would interpret the fossil as evidence for millions of years; and then show them how a biblical creationist would view this same fossil as evidence for rapid burial, a few thousand years ago, through Noah’s flood. In short, explain why the facts make more sense with the biblical account.
- Accompany your children to the local zoo or science centre and expose them to evolutionary ideas, and then provide the biblical view.
- Don’t wait for your children to ask questions. Parents should raise questions about the Christian faith, challenge their children to think, and then provide biblical answers to those questions.
References and notes
- Nazworth, N., Young Christians spiritually failing in real world because youth groups depend too much on emotional high, Christian Post, 14 April 2015. Return to text.