Is it unfair for Christian parents to teach their children about christianity when they are young and impressionable?
This is part 2 of the video of Richard Dawkins, an avowed atheist speaking about why he thinks children should not be indoctrinated in religion. I would love to read your comments on the videos and blogs.
The atheists accuse Christians of keeping their children cloistered away from other views and indoctrinating these young and impressionable minds as opposed to presenting them with a range of choices. Which they say is unfair to the children.
According to dictionary.com, the word ‘indoctrination’ means to instruct in a doctrine, principle, ideology etc. especially to imbue with a specific partisan or biased belief or point of view. It goes on to say that indoctrination involves teaching someone to accept doctrine uncritically and that a synonym for the word is brainwashing.
Although there are some Christians who knowingly attempt to indoctrinate their children, most Christian parents do not, or at least don’t do it intentionally. Having said that, I do not believe that the Bible teaches us to pass our Faith to our children in a way that requires them to not question or reason but to blindly believe and obey what we teach them. If we’re doing this, we need to actually listen to the criticism leveled at us, and change. Let me explain why I believe that.
Let’s start with a basic premise of our Faith. God put the ‘Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil’ in the Garden of Eden. He allows each individual to accept or reject Christ and he also allows each person to live as they see fit, all because love always gives a choice. Logically then, how can we think that it’s right to ensure that our children won’t make the wrong choice by taking away their choice?
The Bible teaches that one of the keys to a deep and meaningful Faith is to seek God and to passionately search out truth. When we try to spoon feed our children a packaged truth and protect them from any objecting viewpoints, we unwittingly teach them that seeking and struggling for a meaningful relationship with God and for real understanding is not necessary. When we do this, we create another generation of unthinking Christians who remain baby Christians all of their lives.
Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth. (John 16:13) A guide directs someone who has already decided to go on a journey. How can the Holy Spirit guide our children to all truth if they’re not on a journey looking for it? If Jesus meant for our children to be only surrounded by truth and sheltered from all else, then they wouldn’t need a guide. If there’s only one clearly marked trail, what do you need a guide for?
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” He didn’t say to force them or to leave them no other choice.
If we look at Jesus as the example of how our children should be educated, here’s what we come up with. He knew God and the Torah well. He also knew what was going on around him in culture, in politics, in religion, in economics, in his country and in the ones around him. He was a learned man who knew the lies that were being told in the world around him and who could support or refute what was being said by anyone with God’s Words.
Our willingness to teach our children, while they’re standing on the world’s stage, should say to the world that we know that we have the truth.
We need to do this not because we think we might be wrong (or because we’re afraid of what the world may say) but because we know that truth will stand up to the test and God is able to guide our children. It’s in doing this that we raise Christ followers – young men and women who seek God, search out truth, study their Bibles, become strong in their Faith, are able to share and defend their Faith and who will make a difference in their world.
If we do this, we won’t need to protect our children from the world or the doubts of atheists. The world is going to have to get worried about how to protect themselves from our children.
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, we recommend, The Singing Bible.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad – your source for Christian Parenting advice)