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Earlier this year D. A. Carson was interviewed in Tabletalk. One of the questions asked addressed parenting, and how parents can best prepare their children to live out their Christian faith in the present-day in which their faith will likely be attacked. Carson’s response is wise, discerning and very helpful.

TT: What is the best way for parents to prepare their children for the attacks on their faith they may face in college? 

DC: There is no formulaic answer and no guarantee. For a start, our children themselves are extraordinarily diverse. Many will be tempted by postmodern assumptions. Others will feel far greater threats from biologists, cosmologists, or psychologists who operate under the assumptions of raw atheism or, worse, functional atheism. All I can do is enumerate some values and practices in the home that seem to me to be wise, biblically faithful, and useful in mitigating the dangers. These are exemplary, not exhaustive.

First, the home should encourage vigorous Christian understanding. The most dangerous seedbed for intellectual rebellion is a home where faith is sentimental and even anti-intellectual, and where opponents are painted as ignorant knaves, because eventually our children discover that there are some really nice people who are atheists and agnostics, and they can present arguments in sophisticated, gentle, and persuasive fashion.

Similarly, the local church with young people who are heading off to college should be doing what it can to prepare them—first with a solid grasp of Christian essentials, and second with the rudiments of responsible apologetics.

At the same time, both the home and the church should be living out a Christian faith that is more than intellectually rigorous. It should be striving for biblically-faithful authenticity across the board: genuine love for God and neighbor, living with eternity in view, quickness to confess sin and seek reconciliation, a concern for the lost and the broken, faithfulness in praise and intercessory prayer, a transparent delight in holiness, and a contagious joy in God. Even if our children are sucked into intellectual nihilism for a while, over the long haul it is important that they remember what biblically-faithful Christianity looks like in the home and in the church.

Fourth, wisdom in shaping our kids demands more structure when they are young; more discussion, carefully monitored controls, and a safety net as they grow older; and a willingness, in most instances, to wait to be asked for advice when they have genuinely left the nest and are no longer dependent on our roof or our wallets.

Finally, pray for them. Pray for them especially diligently when you recognize, as you repeatedly will, that unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor do so in vain.

A few questions for you:

  • Where do you agree with Carson? What might you add?
  • What do you do to impart the Christian faith to your children?
  • How do you prepare your children to live for Christ both now and once they leave home?
  • How and with what resources do you equip parents in this task?


Raising Children Without God

donnajump – January 25, 2013 4 Comments

Here is a story from a mother with two teenage boys giving a rationale for “Why I Raise My Children Without God.”

This mother lists seven reasons:

  1. God is a bad parent and role model.
  2. God is not logical.
  3. God is not fair.
  4. God does not protect the innocent.
  5. God is not present.
  6. God does not teach children to be good.
  7. God teaches narcissism.

And then she concludes in this way:

I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.

I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.

Here are a few observations:

  • For one who does not  believe in God, she certainly claims to know quite a bit about God.
  • This may well be her perception or perspective of God, but it certainly is not reflective of the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible.
  • For her, theology is really anthropology – her understanding of God is based on her understanding of humanity. (This was Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach’s [1804-1872] argument.)
  • This is the chief reason behind the initial rebellion – a desire of the chief angel to be God; it is also one of the key implications of sin – a desire to create God in our own image, which is another of the reversals of God’s divine design for His image bearers.
  • Christianity, or religion, cannot be privatized without it becoming other than what it is. It is comprehensive in that everything is included, nothing is excluded.
  • Though she desires that her children be free from religion, she does not realize that she is teaching, training and modeling for them another kind of religion. Though her religion is not Christianity, it is a religion.
  • In sum, I feel sorrow and pity for this mother and even more so for her children.

Your turn.

  1. What do you think?
  2. What additional observations would you make?

Yesterday we commissioned one of our recent college graduates to life as a missionary. As part of the commissioning service, we invited his parents, elders and the missions chair to lay hands on this young man and to pray for him. It was a wonderful time of worship and celebration.

After the service I visited further with the parents who are members at this local Free Church about the importance and significance of this day. I reminded them of the familiar statement, “blood is thicker than water,” which they rightly understood to mean that biological family sticks together and takes priority over all others, particularly during special (or difficult) times. On this day, I informed them, it is also very important to remember that “water is thicker than blood,” that is, one’s life in the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ takes priority over all others (which is evidenced in the life of Jesus [Mk. 3: 31-35] and in His teaching to the disciples [Matt. 19:23-30]), and is central to one’s life, ministry and mission. (The water depicts baptism, reflecting a prior inward cleansing by the Holy Spirit when a person experiences the new birth, and that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is now publicly professed before the Lord among the church in baptism, cf. Rom. 6:1-11; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Pet. 3:21-22).

God has enabled husband and wife to give birth biologically. This is one of the mandates given by God (Gen. 1:26-28), and as a vital part of that parents are to train their children and to model for them a life of joyful, obedient faith in the Lord (Ps. 78:1-8; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20-21; cf. 2 Tim. 1:3-7). But only God can give rebirth spiritually (Jn. 1:12-13; 3:3, 5; 2 Cor. 5:17; Tit. 3:4-8; 1 Pet. 1:22-24), which makes us absolutely dependent on God for the spiritual life and well-being of our children. When God imparts new birth, parents have no greater joy than to know that their children (biologically) walk in truth (spiritually) (3 Jn. 4, though this text addresses “children” through new birth, it means biological parents doubly rejoice).  Yesterday was a powerful reminder of both of these truths.

May the Lord use this in our lives as a reminder to be faithful as a mother, a father, as parents in the lives of our children, regardless of age, and our grandchildren. May it also prompt us to pray faithfully and diligently for God to work in the lives of our children, and in your life too! And as you pray for your own biological family, remember to expand your prayers to include members of our spiritual family.