By David Evans
TBMB Evangelism Specialist
A problem exists within cultural Christianity that pertains to the steps of the Christian faith. If a child is raised in a Christian home, sometimes that child is raised as a “Christian.” The child acts, thinks, and talks like a Christian without having to make any type of surrender in their life. The reflection of Christianity goes as far as to make sure the child makes a verbal profession of Christ and is baptized. Parents are gratified by such actions. It is good to note at this point that it is a good thing to train a child in a way that the child should go (Proverbs 22:6), but we most often overlook the reasons why the child has followed through with such decisions.
The problem of self-identifying with Christianity without total surrender to the faith is that you move in a Christian-like manner without being a Christian. A time exists in a child’s life that full surrender to the faith, that parents have modeled and taught, must occur. The time to live, adopt, and surrender to personal faith occurs in everyone’s life. I was in college when I came to this realization.
I realized that I went to church, talked like a Christian, and acted as one because that was the expectation of my parents and my culture. I realized that I functioned as a Christian but I thought like an atheist. I had never really thought through the things that I believed. I had never really surrendered my total life to a faith. I was a cultural Christian and at the heart of cultural Christianity is a blind atheism.
Being at a university, I believed it was my job to study. I studied my way through worldviews. At the time the only thing that I knew was real was the scientific method (observation, measurement, theory, hypothesis, etc.) and that was only embraced after coming through a rigorous study of epistemology. After maneuvering through atheism, theism, and monotheism, I came to the realization that the Bible (unlike any other book) was inerrant, infallible, and inspired (a process description for another article).
How do we assist children in the adoption of their own faith?
A few keys are important: (1) answer questions with humility and grace (Hebrews 5:2; James 3:13, 17; I Peter 3:15); (2) allow decisions to be made with grace (Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 4:5; Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25); and (3) journey with them to provide gracious accountability (1 Thessalonians 2:7, Titus 3:2).
As a parent, I have the joy now of helping my children question, think, and examine everything. They do not have to think like their father but they must personally wrestle with everything. I am there as a guide to help them think through every question and to pose new ones. Discipleship is a lifestyle process but it is also a process of inquiry. Discipleship does not only mean that I will act better but that I will think better as well. David Dockery, in his book Faith and Learning, stated, “The calling of Christian higher education is to reflect the life of Christ and to shine the light of truth. That distinctive mission cannot be forced into an either/or framework but rather a both/and calling. It is a commitment to Jesus Christ himself, who is both fully God and fully human and who for Christian educators is both light and life.”
Why must the thoughts of higher education wait until collegiate years? Someone once stated, “If a child can learn trigonometry then they can learn theology” (unknown source).
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