Last week I highlighted an article I saw back in January (I couldn't post it at the time as I already had blogs prepared for our “I Love My Church” month at Trinity). I mentioned that we went through some of these questions as a family. I want my boys to not only know what they believe, but be able to give a clear answer to the world when they ask. I could walk through each section of this blog http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-910282 however, I just want to take a moment and deal with some of the glaring issues and how we should approach them with our children. I am not going answer this in a "deep" way using theological words and a great apologetic attack: while this would be very easy to do Biblically, the goal of this is to simplify word and truth in a way that you as a parent can discuss this with your children. We must be able to give an answer for what we believe, and it is our responsibility to teach our children not just what we believe, but where it is found in Scripture and why we believe it.
“ One day he would know this, and he would not trust my judgment. He would know that I built an elaborate tale—not unlike the one we tell children about Santa—to explain the inconsistent and illogical legend of God.”
I have said on multiple occasions that how parents deal with Santa and other things is a personal matter. However, as parents who have played the whole “Santa” game, I confess if I had to do it over again, I would not do it. It just leads to many logical questions that thinking children ask which give this guy “god-like” characteristics. I would tell them that “Santa is a game that some families choose to play with their kids. Some families are more serious about it than others and we should not mess up their game just because we don't play it with them.” But, what this lady says is correct to the degree that it really can lead to difficult discussions and put you answering questions that really give this myth “God-like” qualities.
“And so I thought it was only right to be honest with my children.”
Why be honest? Who sets the standard of honesty? If there is no God, then why bow to a moral standard that says that it is wrong to lie. Is lying immoral? Who set the code for morality? If there is no standard of right and wrong, no absolute good or bad, then use this opportunity to teach the child survival skills; how to lie and get by with it, how to cheat or manipulate to get ahead of everyone else, to steal to get what you think you deserve (Now, if you are like most parents and just thought, "Of course I don't want to teach my child to get ahead at all costs!", then remember, without God, who says that is wrong?). Who said “it is only right to tell the truth"? What is truth? If we are going to declare that there is no God, then we must declare there is no giver of a standard of good/evil, so man is left to determine for himself what is right in his own eyes...so why do you get to dictate to me what is moral?
“God is a bad parent and role model.”
Again, what is the standard of good and bad, and who sets this? Who says I must live according to someone else's standard of “good.” The entire reasoning is out of whack here. In reading the line of reasoning presented, this argument assumes the “parent/child” relationship is really now adult to adult. After all, the reasoning of a 3 year old thinks that Pop Tarts are a meal and that if something is bad to you it must be bad for you, so avoid it. Our children only want what their flesh screams for (it is not until some maturity sets in that we can begin to deny our flesh and make sensible decisions), so certainly the argument presented flash forwards to adult children. In my relationship with my parents I do not have to obey them, I am not under their authority any longer. I will honor them, but in decisions we are equals. God and I are not equals: He is a perfect, omniscient, omnipresent parent. He is also a just, holy and righteous God who will do what is right and best, regardless of whether or not I see it and understand it at the time. On my best day, I am not that type of parent. The other issue is that not everyone is God’s child. We see a complete contrast in 1st Jn. 3:10 do we not?
“God is not logical” “God is not fair”
The constant answer given, almost like a stuck record by one of our boys to these two questions was, “God is Sovereign and we are not.” In truth, every single point of this paper can be answered that way. God’s ways are above ours and I see very early and throughout the Word of God that I am in no position to explain the “why” of God doing something. If God were “fair,” He would have thrown every single one of us into Hell. This is the problem with any type of worldly belief system, including the false teaching in many “evangelical” churches. God wasn’t created for me, nor for my understanding, but I was created for Him. Life is not going to be fair: we are in a fallen world and I can, at the very least explain the why of tragedy by going to Genesis 3. I can explain that this is not the best way, that we live in a fallen world, but we serve a good God and every single wrong, every single tragedy will be dealt with by God. He will put sin under the blood of Calvary or cast it into Hell, but a perfect judge will not simply overlook it; it must be dealt with. His ways are higher than mine, but He doesn’t answer to me, but both my children and I will answer to Him. I am not sure where we have gotten the idea that things have to be "fair" according to us, and that we have to understand something for it to be truth. That thinking does not hold true in any other part of our society or lives, but we think we have a right to demand it from a holy, righteous Creator (by the way, the One who created it, owns it, rules it and care for it).
“God does not protect the innocent”
This point gave us great opportunity to talk at length with our boys about God’s amazing grace. I will take it a step further than the blogger: God didn’t protect the perfect! He put His only Son on the cross to suffer and drink all the wrath the should have fallen to me. Crazy enough, God didn’t protect the perfect so He could receive me. That is beyond the scope of my reasoning, but it is what makes grace so incredibly amazing. Sin spares no one, it is a death sentence, but God sent forth His son as a propitiation for our sin! As believers, we can have a lot of fun when we talk about this part.
“God is not present”
In this area we discuss the God of all science. God created things that are beyond our 5 senses for us to discover and some, that we will never understand this side of eternity. The argument that nothing can be held to unless it is experienced with the 5 senses will fly in the face of modern science itself. Certainly, the child can’t use this test to determine radio waves, electromagnetic pulses, even the understanding of the atom. I know the argument that follows would be "Well, we have instruments to measure those things,” but let's remember that those instruments are continually evolving from the intelligence that God has given us to understand and discover His creation - these instruments were not always "around" and yet it is the belief in the existence of these things (things which cannot be seen, felt, smelled, etc) which leads to the desire to study and discover, which leads to the science and technology to understand. God has revealed himself in a general way through creation but man denies this.
“God Does Not Teach Children to Be Good”and “God Teaches Narcissism”
False doctrine and moralism teaches children to be good and breeds narcissism. I understand and teach my children that God isn’t looking for “white washed tombs,” but looking for a heart that is pure, and only He can give this through the work He did on Calvary. If I understand and teach my children that God didn’t come to make life about me, but for me to die to myself and be willing to take up the cross and follow Him, I think these two objections fall apart. The best way to combat these thoughts are to give your children true theology; talk about big truths and let them see life is about Christ, not about me!
This dear lady is teaching her child theology; it is just not biblical. While she denies that there are standards given by God, she is teaching the standards that are deemed good and acceptable by her; which leads to the thought that every man can determine those for themselves. There is no good parent except what she deems good. The truth is she is not being intellectually honest, nor is she being morally honest: she does want religion to go away, she does want someone else to take care of her and her child but she makes it crystal clear it is the government and the world’s standards. These standards are ever changing based on social whim of the day and lead to chaos and me-centric thinking. The order and safety presented in that idea is a myth that is tragic and that leads to destruction. While our moral voice still originates in an internal compass of right and wrong given by God (whether we deny Him or not), when man believes that truth and standards are in his hands to define, power struggles, entitlements, self-righteous judgementalism rule the day. After all, the one we would consider depraved and maniacal would define his actions as just and appropriate. Our standards and truth must come from Scripture alone and lie in a recognition that God, while not understood completely by His creation, is in control and has the right to rule over the creation He made. He is not obligated to make Himself understood or to explain His ways; He does not have to bow to our sense of fairness nor our desire for our sense of justice - He defines good/evil, right/wrong and He along is holy and just. Pray for this dear lady that God will work in her life and open her eyes to the wonderful truth of the gospel.