Don’t Expect Your Kids to Care What the Bible Says Unless You’ve Given Them Reason to Believe It’s True

Don't Expect Your Kids to Care What the Bible Says If You Haven't Given Them Reason to Believe It's True

A mom left a comment on one of my older posts the other day that said, “It sounds like you are teaching your kids to question the Bible. We should never teach our kids to question the Bible!”

To that I say…Of course we should.

Let’s not get confused, however, by what it means to “question” the Bible. To ask questions about something doesn’t mean to doubt it by default. Neither default acceptance nor default rejection is the response of a critical thinker.

To encourage our kids to question the Bible means to encourage them to examine it fully so they can determine its truth value for themselves.

This is a spiritual process so sorely lacking in most kids’ (and adults’) lives today.

Our kids learn a selection of key Bible stories throughout their childhood, but what do they learn about the Bible–why they should even believe those stories?

Typically, next to nothing.

Yet, parents and church leaders spend years preaching to kids from the Bible, assuming those kids should and will accept it at face value. It takes just a few skeptics to throw darts at that face value before kids make the point of this “atheist pig”:

 

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Don’t expect your kids to care what the Bible says unless you’ve taken the time to help them understand why there’s good reason to believe it’s true.

In Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side, I wrote 8 chapters to help you do just that. Of course, there are many other possible topics to address on the Bible’s veracity, but I selected these because they are the most pertinent and the most frequently attacked by skeptics.

Here’s an overview of these 8 key questions you should be teaching your kids to ask of the Bible.

 

1. How were the books in the Bible selected?

Skeptics claim: In the first centuries after Jesus, there were many rival versions of Christianity, but the representative writings were suppressed by those in power. Our New Testament books represent the version of Christianity that happened to win over time. The winning books weren’t picked until some 300 years after Jesus’ death, and they won because they found political favor at the time.

Kids need to understand: That there were many early Christian writings, how the early church leaders sifted through those writings over time, and how the books of our Bible today were eventually deemed authoritative.

This is explained in Chapter 25 of my book.

 

2. Why were books left out of the Bible?

Skeptics claim: There are many “gospels” missing from the Bible which give equally valid but completely different views of Jesus than the one we have. If these books had made it into the Bible, Christianity would mean something very different today.

Kids need to understand: Why the mere existence of dozens of early Christian writings that never made it into the Bible says absolutely nothing. The question they need to be able to confidently answer is whether or not any of those writings can legitimately claim spiritual authority by way of connection to Jesus and His apostles.

This is explained in Chapter 26 of my book.

 

3. How do we know we can trust the Bible’s authors?

Skeptics claim: The gospels were written decades after Jesus lived by anonymous authors based on growing legends and unreliable oral history.

Kids need to understand: Why we can be confident that the gospels are based on reliable, eyewitness testimony.

This is explained in Chapter 27 of my book.

 

4. How do we know the Bible we have today says what the authors originally wrote?

Skeptics claim: The Bible has been copied, edited, copied, edited, copied, edited, etc. so many times since the original authors wrote their content that we have no way of even knowing what the books we have should say. (See the quote on the image at the top of this post from one actor making this claim.)

Kids need to understand: Why thousands of copies of early manuscripts and hundreds of thousands of differences between them actually don’t undermine what we know about Christianity.

This is explained in Chapter 28 of my book.

 

5. Does the Bible have errors and contradictions?

Skeptics claim: The Bible is filled with hundreds of errors and contradictions, clearly demonstrating it’s not the Word of God. (See bibviz.com as one example of this claim.)

Kids need to understand: How to evaluate alleged errors and contradictions (with special consideration of the alleged contradictions in the Gospels).

This is explained in Chapter 29 of my book.

 

6. Does the Bible support slavery?

Skeptics claim: God’s laws about slavery in the Old Testament show that, far from being a perfect moral Being, He actually supported this terrible institution–even sex slavery (see Exodus 21:7-11).

Kids need to understand: The issue of slavery in the Old Testament is very complex and requires an appropriate understanding of biblical context, culture, and history.

This is explained in Chapter 30 of my book.

 

7. Does the Bible support rape?

Skeptics claim: The Bible approves of rape.

Kids need to understand: The meaning of biblical laws on rape (Deuteronomy 22:23-29) and the biblical context for three key passages often used to support skeptics’ claims in this area (treatment of female war captives, treatment of the Midianite virgins, and treatment of the women of Jabesh-gilead).

This is explained in Chapter 31 of my book.

 

8. Does the Bible support human sacrifice?

Skeptics claim: God may explicitly condemn human sacrifice in the Bible, but He violates His own prohibition multiple times.

Kids need to understand: The theological background of God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the nature of child sacrifices of kings, Jepthah’s vow, the consecration of firstborn males, and Jesus’ death on the cross.

This is explained in Chapter 32 of my book.

 

So should you teach your kids to ask these and other questions about the Bible? Absolutely. If you don’t, skeptics will. And soon your kids won’t care what the Bible says any more than the “atheist pig”.

Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side is available from your local Barnes & Noble and Christian book retailers, as well as ChristianBook.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Amazon.com.

13 Comments

  1. Dick DiTullio on April 1, 2016 at 11:04 AM

    I’ve spoken with many atheist students at university who were former Christians, and the questions in this column were part of the reason for their de-conversion. If parents do not discuss these questions with their children, at some point, the atheist community will.

    Our children will eventually run into skeptics and atheists on-line, in the workplace, and on the college campus. And yes, that includes Christian colleges. It’s not unusual for Christian parents to send their rebellious kids to a Christian college hoping that they will get “straightened out”. Unfortunately that is not a guaranteed outcome and they can have a very negative influence on other students.

    Atheism has become highly organized to include training in strategies to get Christians to doubt their faith. They train young students in activism including an organized campus presence, an on-line presence with fancy websites, challenging forums and very effective youtube videos.

    But here’s the good news. Our children LOVE being challenged and encouraged to develop a faith that is their own. We need to do much more of this at home and at church. And if you want that faith to be Christianity as opposed to atheism Natasha’s book is a wonderful place to start.



  2. Diane Dougan on April 2, 2016 at 8:43 AM

    Excellent points–I am going to have to break down and buy your book! 🙂 Even though my kids are in college and beyond, these are great talking points for when we are together. I like what you have said in other articles about being intentional about presenting these thought-provoking topics in a non-preachy way.



  3. Jemima on April 3, 2016 at 6:07 AM

    Great stuff. We’re working through your book, Natasha. My older teens are also devouring “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist” by RZIM’s Andy Bannister. Also a brilliant book for older teens that helps defang many of the typical atheist attacks.



  4. Martin on April 6, 2016 at 11:06 AM

    Natasha, great post as usual. I do have one question.

    A friend of mine asked this question and I still can’t think of an answer. He said that the Bible claims that Jesus was in all points tempted as we are, and that him being human thus enabled him to fully experience what we experienced and he thus understands all of our pains and suffering.

    However, my friend maintains this can’t be true. My friend is a father and husband, he said since Jesus never had children or was never married, how can he claim to know what it’s like to be a father or a husband. Since Jesus was never raped, how can he know what it’s like for a woman to be raped? How can Jesus know what it’s like to be a woman, or a national political leader dealing with the stress of managing an entire society? As you can see, the list goes on. In essence, how can the Bible claim that Jesus understands us fully, when he has never walked in many of our shoes.

    Now, I haven’t reached the gospels yet in my Bible reading so I don’t know what the specific claims are about Jesus. However, this is a good question.

    Any thoughts or ideas?



    • Heather on April 22, 2016 at 12:20 PM

      Hello Martin, Good question. I would suggest that saying ‘Jesus was tempted in all ways’ and that He can understand what we go through since He experienced being human does not mean that He experienced every experience there is to experience. Think of it in broader ways. He can understand our pain and heartache and vulnerability and limitations and being tempted because He experienced these things too, in His own way. We humans say ‘I know what you are going through’ when someone has a tragedy or heartbreak or struggle because we have had our own tragedies, heartbreaks, and struggles, too, even if they did not perfectly match the other person’s circumstances. But we can understand and relate and have sympathy because we know how it feels. Likewise, Jesus can understand, relate, and be compassionate because He knows how it felt to be human. Hope this helps.



      • Martin on April 22, 2016 at 12:35 PM

        @Heather,

        That is a good and thoughtful response. Thanks.

        Martin



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  7. Erin on April 10, 2016 at 3:38 AM

    Interesting post, Natasha! I think one of the reasons that I remained so strong in my faith throughout the teenage years is that my parents encouraged questions and discussions. Sometimes they provided answers, but often we just thought about different arguments and I came to settle back on my foundation of faith. Now that I am a mother, this is definitely a practice I want to extend to my children!



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  9. Scott Brouillard on March 29, 2018 at 6:24 AM

    Great solid course materials can be found and used here. Outstanding material. https://www.growingchristians.org/courses/christian-evidences-1/



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