What is the best way for parents to prepare their children for the attacks on their faith they may face in college?
This question was posed to D.A. Carson in his latest interview with Table Talk Magazine. He provides several answers, but two in particular caught my attention.
He says 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.
How do we work this out on a daily basis?
We have to understand that our homes, not the church, is the first place our children should be exposed to studying Scripture. Yes, children need the church, just like we need the church to help us in our theological development. The church, however, should only act as a supplement for what our children are getting at home.
Families should be actively training their children. On a regular basis, they should talk through Scripture with their children, answering their questions, and even raising questions they may face at school, college, or in the work place.
Of course, this means parents must be informed and studying Scripture themselves, in order to facilitate these discussions. While that may take some extra work, it is worth it if we want to see our children’s faith and knowledge deepened, as well as if we want to obey God’s command in Deuteronomy 6:7.
The second of Carson’s answers that caught my attention is the following:
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.
Our faith, then, cannot remain solely in the intellectual. Instead, our faith must impact our daily life, affecting our emotions, prayers, confessions, outlook, and even how we interact with others. Intellectual rigor doesn’t have to mean cold dead orthodoxy. On the contrary, intellectual rigor should produce a vibrant, living, and acting faith (James 2:14-26).
When our children see our faith lived out in our homes on a daily basis, they will understand our beliefs have an impact on our lives. As Carson points out, this doesn’t mean they will not question their faith, but it does mean they have a concrete example of what faith produces in the life of a real believer to look to in those times of questioning. Hopefully, the example we set will prove Christianity is genuine.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you see the church or the home as the primary vehicle to train your children?
- Do you allow your faith to impact your life?
- Would someone know their was something different about you by the way you live?