If Your Kids Are Someday Shocked by the Claims of Skeptics, You Didn’t Do Your Job

If Your Kids Are Someday Shocked by the Claims of Skeptics, You Didn't Do Your Job

Popular Christian rapper Jahaziel made the news this week when he released a statement renouncing his faith (you can read the full message here). As I read his statement, I was really struck by something…the utter predictability of every claim he made against Christianity.

His deconversion statement reads like a play-by-play from the “2015 Internet Guide to Why Christianity Isn’t True.” I have to admit that after I read it, my jaded side initially reacted with a mental shoulder shrug: “Nothing new here. Same tired set of claims.”

But then I realized that’s the same mental shoulder shrug I make at about 95% of blog comments I receive from skeptics of Christianity these days. That’s not because I’m somehow better than those comments, or because those comments aren’t raising important questions that should be answered.

It’s simply because I’ve spent the last few years making myself aware of the challenges to Christianity, reading what both Christians and skeptics say about those challenges, and concluding repeatedly that the case for the truth of Christianity is powerfully strong.

It occurred to me when reading Jahaziel’s statement that this is precisely the position we want our kids to be in by the time they leave home—where the challenges they hear from the world are nothing new, nothing shocking, nothing they haven’t heard some version of before…and nothing they haven’t had the opportunity to investigate with you.

That’s not as hard to accomplish as you might think.

The fact that these claims are so predictable means our job is both well-defined and achievable.

 

Jahaziel’s Predictable “Case Against Christianity”

A lot of parents are overwhelmed at the thought of helping their kids learn the case for Christianity and how to defend their faith against the seemingly ubiquitous challenges today.

Where do you start? Where do you end? How can you cover it all? How can kids ever really be sufficiently prepared? How can we even be prepared ourselves?

But here’s what you need to know: Helping your kids develop a faith that’s prepared for today’s challenges is not a nebulous, impossible task.

Rather, skeptics are making a predictable set of claims, so we have a pretty specific agenda we should be covering with our kids over time. Think of it like helping them study for a test. You might not be able to anticipate every conceivable question they’ll get, but you can make sure they know what major subject areas they’ll encounter and how to think through the most important questions in those areas. They’re not venturing out into a completely wild blue yonder. This test can be studied for.

To demonstrate what I mean, I want to walk you through the key parts of Jahaziel’s statement. There are all kinds of claims against Christianity embedded here. But they are so common—so predictable—that I can literally point to where I answered each one in my book. I don’t say that to suggest I’m particularly insightful or to advertise the book; I say it to show that Jahaziel’s many and varied claims are all common enough to have been addressed in a single book about today’s key faith challenges.

Let’s take a look.

 

“I have met some great people in church and learned some great principles from Christianity/the Bible. These principles, however, are not exclusive to any religion.”

Underlying this statement is the implied assertion that all religions are essentially the same because they boil down to “great principles.” Do all religions really point to the same truth? Absolutely not. A lot of people try to claim that (including Oprah, as one example), but it’s simply illogical. I explain why in chapter 10. Nothing surprising here.

 

“I have met many sincere Christians, both church goers and church leaders, and although I have not seen every one of the 40,000 Christian denominations currently in existence I think I have seen enough to personally make a general conclusion regarding Christianity in the broadest sense.”

Ah, yes, the 40,000 denomination claim. I can’t tell you how many times skeptics have commented on my blog about that number. That’s why my chapter 14 exists: “If Christianity is true, why are there so many denominations?” Nothing surprising here.

 

“Now, after 20 years of being vocal about the positives of Christian faith, I would like to take some time to be equally vocal about the negatives I have found, i.e., Christianity and its controlling dictatorship, its historic blood trail, its plagiarized Bible stories, characters and concepts, the many human errors of the Bible and its contradictions, the brutal nature of its God, its involvement in the slave trade, the crusades, the inquisition, the witch hunts…you get the drift.”

I’m not sure what he’s talking about specifically with “controlling dictatorship,” but the rest of this is, once again, standard fare.

  • Historic blood trail? Crusades? Inquisition? Witch Hunts? This is all part of the common claim that Christianity is responsible for millions of deaths in history… therefore Christianity is both false and evil. I address this in chapter 15. Nothing surprising here.

 

  • Plagiarized Bible stories, characters and concepts? This could refer to a lot of things, but he’s likely referring to the common claim that Christianity was borrowed from pagan myths. I address this in chapter 22, where I talk about various theories of the resurrection. Nothing surprising here.

 

  • The many human errors of the Bible and its contradictions? This is one of the most common blanket statements you hear today and it includes multiple layers of questions/challenges: How were the books of the Bible selected? Why were books left out of the Bible? How do we know we can trust the Bible’s authors? How do we know the Bible we have today says what the authors originally wrote? These aren’t shocking questions…once again, they’re par for the course and are the titles to chapters 25-29 in my book. Nothing surprising here.

 

  • The brutal nature of God? Involvement in the slave trade? No list of claims against Christianity would be complete without this one, targeted at the difficulties in parts of the Old Testament. I discuss the “genocide” of the Canaanites in chapter 3, and claims that the Bible supports slavery, rape, and human sacrifice in chapters 30, 31, and 32. Nothing surprising here.

 

It’s Not Just Jahaziel

I used Jahaziel’s statement as a “case study” to make the point of this post, but lest you think this is a one-off example, I want to leave you with one other quick and poignant (true) story.

A young Christian I know who’s an undergraduate student posted on Facebook recently about a humanities class he’s taking. He said that, so far in the semester, he’s “learned” the following: Jesus never claimed to be God in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Christianity borrowed ideas from earlier pagan myths, and the church arbitrarily picked which books to include in the Bible according to its own biases.

He noted, “The reactions of other students are of shock and disbelief. Yesterday the professor asked a student how these facts made her feel. She said she was mad and couldn’t wait to go yell at her pastor and parents. The professor egged her on. It was like watching a commander rally up his troops to tear down his enemy.”

The girl in the class was presumably ready to throw out years of Christian upbringing after a couple of months in a single college class. All because she heard some standard claims against Christianity for the first time…

Jesus never claimed to be God? I cover that in chapter 18. Nothing surprising there.

Christianity borrowed ideas from earlier pagan myths? That was in Jahaziel’s list too. Again, I discuss that in chapter 22. Nothing surprising there.

The church arbitrarily picked books for the Bible? See chapters 25 and 26. Nothing surprising there.

This girl’s faith crisis was entirely unnecessary…if only her parents had taken the time to prepare her for this highly predictable “test.”

If our kids are eventually shocked by the claims of skeptics, we have failed to do our job.

As you consider your goals for 2016, I encourage you to ask yourself this: What specific subjects will I get equipped to cover with my kids this year, and how will I share that knowledge with them?

In my next post, I’ll provide a master list of my recommended resources to help you achieve those goals!

17 Comments

  1. Paul Miller on December 29, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    Thanks for the challenge. I enjoy getting your emails. As a father of 10 children, it’s very important for them to know why they believe what they believe, and to be able to defend it. Keep up the good work!



  2. Michelle Marullo on December 29, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    As always, great post, Natasha! Thank you! “But wicked men and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and leading astray others and being deceived and led astray themselves. BUT as for you, continue to hold to the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced, knowing from whom you learned them,” 2 Timothy 13-14



  3. Janelle Knutson on December 29, 2015 at 11:42 AM

    A good reminder as we head in to the New Year, to devote time and energy into helping our kids understand the truths of the Bible and to be equipped to defend against false claims. One of the many reasons we homeschool our children….so we can saturate everything they are learning with God’s truth and incorporate apologetics. Thank you for the excellent post.



  4. Susan Shannon on December 29, 2015 at 9:27 PM

    Sounds great. I will order one! Susan



  5. […] If Your Kids Are Someday Shocked by the Claims of Skeptics, You Didn’t Do Your Job: http://christianmomthoughts.com//if-your-kids-are-someday-shocked-by-the-claims-of-skeptics-you-didnt… […]



  6. Ben on January 5, 2016 at 11:37 AM

    As a skeptic and former believer, some of the claims I hear from some radical skeptics are indeed quite disappointing. It’s easy to get over-excited about learning from the other side, and this is true whether you have converted or de-converted. Jahaziel’s statement wasn’t that bad, though, I didn’t think. He wasn’t explaining, it didn’t seem to me, *why* he left Christianity, but rather why he wasn’t going to be quiet about de-converting. In other words, Jahaziel was not claiming to offer any “case against Christianity,” and so I don’t think it’s fair to interpret his facebook post in that way. Nor did I find anything dramatically wrong in what he said, although perhaps some of it was hammed up a bit.

    Some of the problems he mentioned are very real problems with Christianity. Probably the most obvious one is the Biblical contradictions thing. As you say, this is nothing new, but that makes it no less of a problem. Take the death of Judas, for instance. Now, it is technically possible to reconcile the two Biblical accounts and piece them together in some creative way. There are varying proposals, but probably the most common harmonization is to say that Judas hanged himself and then, while hanging, his bowels burst open. But why should we accept this interpretation? Isn’t it more reasonable just to say that, well, Matthew has his story and Luke has his, and at least one of them got some details wrong?

    I like this example because there is more to the story than most Christians are aware. It turns out that Papias, who wrote circa 100-150 AD, records yet a third version of Judas’ death. He says:

    “Judas lived his career in this world as an enormous example of impiety. He was so swollen in the flesh that he could not pass where a wagon could easily pass. Having been crushed by a wagon, his entrails poured out.”

    So, the inerrantist has two options. First, he could say that Papias got some details wrong, and that the Biblical accounts are correct. But notice that instead he could do exactly what he did before: harmonize. So, for example, he could say that Judas hanged himself, and then a passing wagon struck and crushed him, causing his bowels to burst open and his entrails to pour out. No contradiction, right? Ah, but surely this is absurd.

    As I said, I like this example because it gives the believer a chance to look at it from an unbeliever’s perspective. Sure, it is technically possible to harmonize just about anything. But why insist on a harmonization? Sometimes, it seems much more natural just to admit that these authors made some mistakes.

    Anyway, I digress. But those are my thoughts.



    • LuAnn on January 20, 2016 at 11:20 PM

      is the account by Papias about the same Judas, the Betrayer?



    • Dustin D on January 27, 2016 at 9:59 PM

      I’m confused as to why this is a problem. The doctrine of Biblical inerrancy is in no way central to Christianity. I mean, ALL of Christianity is false if two guys differ on how Judas died? Really?

      It’s just not one of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. If we think of our theological system of beliefs as like a spider’s web, at the core of the web where the center of the web is, there will be things like belief in the existence of God. That would be absolutely central to the web of beliefs. A little further out from that would be the deity of Christ and his resurrection from the dead. A little bit further out from that perhaps would be the penal theory of the atonement – his substitutionary death for our sins. Even further out from that, somewhere near the periphery of the web, will be the belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. If that belief topples, so what? The web is still intact.

      But your particular issue with Judas isn’t troublesome at all. Take the following joke I once heard:

      “What did the Calvinist say when he fell down the elevator shaft?”
      “I don’t know.”
      “He got up, dusted himself off, and said, ‘Whew! I’m glad that’s over!’”

      Now just recently someone else told me what was clearly the same joke. Only she told it as follows:

      “Do you know what the Calvinist said when he fell down the stairs?”
      “No.”
      “‘Whew! I’m glad that’s over!’”

      Notice the differences in the telling of this joke; but observe how the central idea and especially the punch line are the same. Well, when you compare many of the stories told about Jesus in the Gospels and identify the words they have in common, you find a pattern like this. There is variation in the secondary details, but the central saying is almost verbatim the same.

      Well, it’s pretty obvious the same holds true with the Judas narrative- Judas is dead!

      This is what detectives find to be very common when interviewing multiple people about a single event. The secondary details vary while the central details remain intact. And this does nothing to damage the detective’s ability to piece together the truth of what happened.



  7. […] By Natasha Crain […]



  8. Ben on January 28, 2016 at 8:41 AM

    LuAnn,

    Yes, it is the same Judas.

    Dustin,

    Whoa, now I never claimed that all of Christianity is false if Matthew and Luke disagree on Judas’ death! The Judas error is just one example of the many errors in the Bible. And of course, I agree that you can certainly be a Christian while simultaneously accepting that the Bible contains numerous human errors—and in fact a lot of people do just that. However, a lot of other people disagree that inerrancy isn’t an important doctrine.

    I’m sure you are aware that dealing with Biblical errors can be a faith-shaking experience for many Christians, and can turn off non-Christians to considering conversion. In my mind, that counts as a “problem” for Christianity. It is also a problem, I think, when Christians deny that the Bible contains errors when it clearly does.



    • Dustin D on January 29, 2016 at 2:31 PM

      You stated, “Some of the problems he mentioned are very real problems with Christianity. Probably the MOST obvious one is the Biblical contradictions thing.” As if this is some kind of great argument against Christianity. It simply isn’t. The only people this would even bother are hardcore fundamentalists whose doctrinal priority lists are badly misplaced. The problem is with THEM, not with Christianity.

      What we need to understand is that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is a corollary of the doctrine of inspiration. As such it is an important doctrine, but it is not a central doctrine to the Christian faith. How could it be? Where does it say the Bible MUST be inerrant?

      Most rational Christians I know approach the New Testament documents as they would any ordinary historical document and believe they are reliable enough to show, for example, that Jesus thought that he was the Son of God, that he did miracles and exorcisms, and that he rose from the dead.

      I realize the minute somebody points out an error in the NT to some Christians, they go up in arms as though to admit this one error would completely undermine the historicity of the records of Christ. But that’s absurd. No historian approaches documents like that. Indeed, the very task of the historian is to sift through the chaff and to find the historical nuggets of truth amidst the errors and mistakes that are typically found in historical writing.

      If you approach the Scriptures as you would ordinary historical documents and you find in them mistakes, contradictions, and errors, that still wouldn’t undermine the general historical credibility of the Gospels, for example, including things like the miracles and exorcisms of Jesus, his radical self-understanding, his resurrection from the dead. Those things don’t hang on the affirmation of biblical inerrancy whatsoever.



      • Zane on April 14, 2016 at 7:21 AM

        Beautifully said, Dustin D. You hit the nail on the head, and I agree entirely. On this subject, William Lane Craig said, “So I almost never argue with an unbeliever about biblical inerrancy. I’ll concede for the sake of argument virtually all the errors and inconsistencies in the Old and New Testaments that he wants to bring up, while insisting that the documents collected into what was later called the New Testament are fundamentally reliable when it comes to the central facts under-girding the claims and fate of Jesus of Nazareth. For the apologetic task it doesn’t really matter whether Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which day of the week he was crucified, how many angels were at the tomb, and so on. So long as the central facts are secure, the unbeliever ought to become a Christian. When it comes to the task of theology, however, things are different. The task of theology is to lay out systematically the truths taught in Scripture. Thus, one will try to develop a coherent system of doctrine which is faithful to Scripture. Based on what one thinks makes the best sense of Scripture, one will develop a more detailed body of Christian doctrine. This will include doctrines about what Scripture has to say about itself. We don’t need to “argue over inspiration or inerrancy” with unbelievers, but we do need to discuss these questions with fellow Christians. With unbelievers we should simply make the case that the documents collected into the New Testament are reliable enough to warrant the beliefs that Jesus understood himself to be the Messiah, the unique Son of God, and the Danielic Son of Man, and that his crucifixion, burial, empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, and the origin of his disciples’ belief in his resurrection are historically well-founded. With fellow believers we need to discuss the nature of biblical inspiration and what follows from that for the truthfulness of Scripture. The doctrine of Inerrancy is a corollary of the doctrine of Inspiration. The doctrine of Inerrancy does not mean that everything in the Bible is literally true. It doesn’t mean that everything the Bible says is true. It means that everything that the Bible teaches is true. Or everything the Bible affirms to be true, is true. So the monsters described in Revelation, or trees clapping their hands in Psalms are not literally true. That would be “wooden literalism.” Clearly, those are examples of symbolism. The doctrine of inspiration says that the Bible has been inspired by God, not that the writers were like robots, only writing what God programmed them to write. If the Bible is not inerrant, it doesn’t mean that Christianity is not true – it is not a central doctrine – but it does weaken it. But we believe that the Bible IS inerrant in the true sense of the word.”

        As for Jahaziel’s leaving the faith, I suspect that the lure of the SECULAR rap world (much more money, fame, and women) was too much for him.



  9. Prepare your kids | A disciple's study on April 29, 2016 at 1:52 PM

    […] ~ Natasha Crain, If Your Kids Are Someday Shocked by the Claims of Skeptics, You Didn’t Do Your Job […]



  10. […] The main reason I bought the book was because the author had made this comment: “If Your Kids Are Someday Shocked by the Claims of Skeptics, You Didn’t Do Your Job.” […]



  11. john allcott on May 9, 2017 at 4:14 PM

    Jahaziel is one of many “Christian celebrities” to backslide.
    CCM is especially a fairly fruitful harvest field for Satan.
    Why?
    Celebrity worship, only Osteen-ish (positive, feel-good) lyrics allowed, temptations of wealth, compromise tolerated (many acts celebrate homosexual “marriage” yet continue as CCM stars), etc.

    No one backslides because of evidence supposedly against the Word of God, BTW.
    People backslide because they love sin, & that leads them to become gullible for Satan’s lies.



  12. Thea Ramsay on May 6, 2018 at 11:41 AM

    What is the book being discussed called? Is it in accessible format? I am blind, and use a screen reader, which doesn’t interact with all things equally, particularly pdf.
    Natasha, are you related to William Crain, the author of “A Reasonable Faith”? Not to put too fine a point on it, but churches are partly to blame for this.
    I have two grown children. Both my husband and I are blind; we only had our Braille Bibles available to us. It’s not like we had the tools to home-school our kids, nor were we able. But we did take them to church. We’re believers.
    The kids, nowadays, are not. Why didn’t their Sunday school teachers, when they were of an age to understand, help us parents out? We also sent them to a Christian school, and it cost plenty. Most of us don’t get trained for apologetics in our Christian schools, or our churches. They preach sermons on how to live, and that’s great. I happen to love Jahaziel. I’m broken-hearted that he’s rejected Jesus, after twenty years of following him.
    But the fact is, I don’t know what to say to him. Despite the blindness, the wheelchair, and everything else that’s happened to me, I can tell him God’s been good to me, and I wouldn’t worship anyone else on a bet. And all he would say to me is “I’m glad it works for you.”
    It’s one thing speaking to someone who’s never heard. I understand Muslims who hear the word receive it with joy, especially the women. It’s liberating. It’s the best news they ever heard, the gospel.
    It’s quite another, talking to someone who can quote the Bible better than you. I’ve listened to all Jahaziel’s music. And I know my Bible. But so does he. His rap is full of Scripture. How the blazes do you talk to someone in an apostate condition, who knows the book as well as you do or better, and then walked away? Do you appeal to the heart, how much Jesus loves him? Do you appeal to the head, God’s wonderful creation, the design of the universe, the balance of this against that, which absolutely demands an intelligent designer, and a sovereign one at that?
    I love Jahaziel. No I never met him; he’s not my husband. But illness and isolation have made my favorite Christian rappers my brothers and sisters, and I’ve lost a dear brother. And I don’t know what the heck I can say to bring him back. In addition, I’d like to understand the difficult parts of the Scriptures, such as the story about the young prophet getting slain because the old prophet talked him into coming to his house for dinner, then pronounced judgment on him when he did. It seems to me, the old prophet deceived the young, and the young one got killed, but nothing happened to the elder. It seems an unfair act on God’s part, and I’d like to understand better.
    Both were prophets of the Lord. The elder prophet mourned for the younger, but it was his lie that got the young in trouble in the first place. It didn’t happen to me, or anyone I care about, but it seems to say something about my Father. It seems unfair, and I’d like to have it cleared up, if possible. If not, God’s still my Father, and I look forward to discussing the issue with him when I’m in Heaven, where my husband is now.
    But back to my baby brother, Jahaziel. What’s the name of this book? Is it accessible to a blind person? Where can I get it?



  13. […] Parent Solution: Intentionally introduce your kids to skeptics’ challenges, so they never feel the need to question whether you tried to shelter them from other beliefs. For more on the importance of this, see the post “If Your Kids are Someday Shocked by the Claims of Skeptics, You Didn’t Do Your Job.” […]