Brad Harrub: “What Can I Do When My Children’s Faith is Threatened?”

Wes  —  October 28, 2011
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Brad Harrub, Ph.D.Special thanks to Brad Harrub, Ph.D. of Focus Press for this phenomenal article. Brother Harrub is an outstanding author, speaker, scientist, and defender of biblical truth. The battle for  the hearts and minds of our children is raging, and this is a man who I am proud to have has an ally.

 

Introduction
At 3:00 p.m., mom stops folding laundry and begins contemplating what to fix for dinner. Suddenly, she hears the unmistakable sound of little feet running down the sidewalk. Within seconds, the front door bangs open and little Johnny comes running down the hallway into a brightly lit kitchen. As mom frantically tries to keep the mud tracks off the floor, little Johnny circles round and round, shouting: “Guess what video we watched today at school!” With a dustpan in one hand, and an old wooden broom in the other, mom looks up and replies, “What Johnny?” Johnny lets out an ear-piercing scream and yells, “Dinosaurs!” And without taking another breath he begins rattling off the names of dinosaurs: “We saw a Brachiosaurus, Apatosaurus, Deinonychus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Spinosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex, and a Velociraptor! Oh, mom you should have seen them. They were so cool. I want to get some books about them. Can we please? Can we mom?”

Protecting our Children's Faith

And so, without any advance notice, Mom is thrown into the realm of the dinosaurs. Only minutes ago she was folding laundry, wishing she were elsewhere. Now she would be content to wind back the hands of time and fold those clothes. No one warned her that motherhood included needing advanced degrees in dinosaur trivia. For the next several days, the questions continue. “When were the dinosaurs around? Why did they become extinct? Were they cold-blooded or warm-blooded?” Poor mom—she can cook dinner, wash clothes, clean the kitchen, watch the children, and talk on the phone all at the same time…but dinosaurs? All mom knows about dinosaurs can be summed up like this: They were big, and they were green. Aside from that, mom has to rely on books to provide Little Johnny with the answers that he so desperately seeks.

Within a week, their house has been turned into a virtual dinosaur hall of fame. Dinosaur books, puzzles, games, and action figures can be found in just about every room. Every dime Little Johnny had saved up has been spent on dinosaur books. You know the ones—the books with big colorful pictures on slick glossy paper. The same ones that usually somewhere around page one, paragraph one, say something like, “All life on our planet changes and develops over many millions of years. This is called evolution. Millions of years ago the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, long before man ever existed.” Even those “harmless” sticker books that she bought Little Johnny mention that dinosaurs roamed the Earth 225 million years ago. And so, within just a few weeks Little Johnny has filled his brain with dinosaur trivia; but he has also laid down the planks on which the evolutionary theory will one day be built in his belief system.

Harmonize It…
Ask yourself what normally is the first introduction most young people have into the humanistic, atheistic, Godless world of organic evolution. Dinosaurs! Once the stage has been set that the Earth is billions of years old, then it becomes easy to slip in evolutionary rationale for human existence. What better way to build a foundation than to get our children hooked on dinosaurs—something that is rarely dealt with in a religious setting, and something with which most parents are not all that familiar. First and foremost, we need to understand that this is a fight. It is a fight that most parents are losing—and that many do not even realize is taking place. We carry our children and grandchildren to Bible class and worship. We tuck them in at night, and one day we wake up, only to realize that they have lost their souls because someone out there did their job better than and before we did ours!

Ask an average 10-year-old child when the dinosaurs existed, and see what response you get. Then ask them about the men who lived with the dinosaurs. Chances are, those excited faces that were all ready to tell you every single fact you ever wanted to know about dinosaurs will immediately change into wrinkled brows and puzzling frowns. For, you see, we live in a world that has taught our children that dinosaurs existed many millions of years ago, prior to the existence of man. What happens, then, when our children try to reconcile this with the Genesis account of Creation? They begin to question the Bible, simply because the two cannot be harmonized, and most do not possess the evidence they need to defend God’s Word.

The word “creation” is never mentioned in biology classes in reference to the origin of life, and the Genesis account of creation is only mentioned sarcastically (if it is mentioned at all). By the time many individuals graduate from college, the Bible they grew up believing has been so ridiculed that it quickly becomes relegated to the bottom of a dusty old bookshelf—never to be opened again. Yet in Peter’s first epistle, he instructed: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Statistics indicate that our young people are not properly prepared to give an answer or defense when their instructors begin to tear away at their faith. Professors categorize God’s Word as little more than a poorly written history book. These “highly educated” men no longer treat it as “God-breathed,” because to do so would be admitting there is a higher power. By declaring that “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm. 19:1), we are paying homage to Someone capable of more than mortal men—and that Someone rightly deserves our obedience and respect. Unfortunately many of our children are casting their Bibles aside in favor of science and the theories of men.

In the first chapter of the book of Genesis, Moses details for us the specific events that occurred during the six days of Creation. Exodus 20:11 states: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Question: What does that leave out? Answer: Nothing! It is totally comprehensive, and yet our children have been fed a steady diet of the early evolutionary appearance of dinosaurs and reptiles, with mammals and humans appearing millions of years later. We must wake up and get busy teaching our children the Truth. Most of us have seen the horrifying statistics—nationwide the churches of Christ are losing somewhere between 60-90% of our young people after we send them away from the home. How is it that Joseph at the age of 17, already had enough strength, courage, and conviction to get him through the rough trials that were to come (see Genesis 37,39-40)? It is because his parents instilled in him at a very young age the importance of God in such a way that he never forgot God—even during his darkest trials. Why is it we think that it is only after our children have grown up and started a family of their own that they can find the strength they need for their convictions?

Why Did Johnny Fall Away?
Why did Johnny fall away? What caused him to leave the Lord and His church, and instead turn his attention to worldly matters? Likely, of course, there are many possible answers. However, I would like to concentrate on only one answer. Something undermined Johnny’s commitment, and caused him to give up the ideals he once held dear. What persuaded this youngster to abandon his faith in God, his trust in Jesus, and his reliance upon the Bible? Perhaps Johnny lost his faith because he never knew the evidences upon which his faith should have rested in the first place. In other words, Johnny “believed,” but he did not know why he believed. He was living an “inherited” religion. Having, therefore, no good reason to keep on believing, when faced with the temptation to be free, he fell headlong into the trap set for him by the “roaring lion”—our adversary, the devil (1 Pet. 5:8). Satan was successful in his task because we failed in ours. Unfortunately Johnny, and many others like him, have been told that faith is a “blind leap.” We did not train Johnny “in the way he should go” (Pro. 22:6), because we did not show him the evidences upon which his faith should have been based. His faith was threatened, but he was not ready for battle, and so he surrendered.

We Are God’s Archers–Our Children Are God’s Arrows
The inspired writer of Psalm 127 made this observation in verse 4— “Children are like arrows in the hand of a mighty man.” Why do you think the writer chose this particular analogy? Do you think the inspired writer’s choice of words happened merely by chance? Or do you think that the writer realized what you and I know today—that long before the archer ever places an arrow between his fingers, and long before he ever pulls that bowstring taut, he already has sighted his target. He knows long before he ever releases that arrow where he wants it to go. There is forethought and planning involved in launching that arrow. It doesn’t occur haphazardly. We are God’s archers! Our children are God’s arrows! We must remember the goal on which we have our sights targeted, and then launch our children on their way with much forethought and planning toward that goal. Each step that we take in guiding and directing our children should be done with that target in mind—that big, red bulls-eye that we know as heaven.

The problem lies in the fact that many parents today lack the proper biblical knowledge and understanding to firmly send their children toward a heavenly goal. Sure, we know the steps of salvation, but what happens when our children ask us questions outside the realm of “hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized?” How can we accurately and firmly launch our children toward the goal of heaven if we ourselves are deficient in knowledge? When our children come to us with questions (and they will!) about the age of the Earth or about the dinosaurs, they expect answers. And rightly so! It is up to us to educate ourselves in such a way that those questions get answered.

The answers (and evidence) that we give our children and grandchildren should only further propel them toward that heavenly target. We must realize that if we don’t have an answer for our child or grandchild, someone out there does. And sooner or later, that person is going to teach our child “their” version of how the Universe came about or how humans evolved from ape-like creatures. Then they will show beautifully illustrated pictures printed on glossy paper to impress our child. And before we know it, our child has lost his or her soul, and we have lost our child. Thanks to the unbelievers who were willing to answer his question, “little Johnny” no longer holds the Bible as being the inspired Word of God. It has become just an antiquated history book—one not deserving his commitment and loyalty.

And then Johnny joins the workforce and does what he’s watched his parents do for years and years—strive for prosperity. But in doing so, he forgets about God. Recall what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 4: “And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (8-10).

We are God’s archers! Our children are God’s arrows. We must take our responsibility seriously and stop allowing other people to launch our children in any direction that they please. Our children should be sent on their way with such force and such strength that by the time they turn 17 or leave home, they possess strong convictions about their religious beliefs. Otherwise, the “church of tomorrow,” as so many like to call it, will continue walking out the doors of our church buildings, never to darken those doors again. But be forewarned: this kind of direction and guidance requires quantity (as well as quality) time and a Christian example.

Strengthening Our Children’s Faith
Oftentimes, we watch little children sing the song about the wise and the foolish builders. But sadly, some of those very children will one day find their own belief systems built on a sandy foundation. If we are going to protect our children’s faith when it is threatened, we must be ready to strengthen it through study. We are commanded to “contend earnestly for the faith, once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). With an increasing number of people doubting God’s existence, Jesus’ deity, and the inspiration of the Bible, Christian parents will find an increased demand upon them to be able to defend these things. Paul stressed that we should “prove all things,” and then having done so, “hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). It was Paul’s custom to teach the Gospel by presenting the evidences documenting the truthfulness of Christianity (see Acts 17:2-3; 19:8). That is, in fact, how Peter preached the first Gospel sermon—by presenting the evidence in a defense of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2). We, too, can use evidences to strengthen our children’s faith.

Through a study of the evidences upon which Christianity is based, our children can come to see that Christianity is not a “pie in the sky” or an “I hope so by and by” kind of religion. On the contrary, Christianity is grounded in historical fact. Its roots are deep, and its precepts are provable. We must teach our young people that they can: (a) know God exists, (b) know Jesus is God’s Son; and (c) know the Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word. In so doing, we can give young people a clear view of their God, His Son, His church, and their future home of heaven.

Additionally, a study of the many evidences upon which Christianity is based demonstrates the validity of the Christian system. Truth does not shrink from exhaustive examination, for it has nothing to fear. Rather, truth welcomes the searchlight of the severest scrutiny—unfailingly confident that it cannot be disproved. A religion that discourages logical examination of its claims is tacitly admitting the doubtfulness of its position. Christianity has no fear of submitting its beliefs to the critical examination of skeptics. Nor does Christianity fear to have its proponents study the claims of other religions (or no religion at all). Truth will not bend or break beneath the onslaught. A faith that cannot withstand a terse, critical examination is a faith not worth having in the first place. As young people are shown the manifold evidences that prove God’s existence, Jesus’ Sonship, and the Bible’s inspiration—and as they examine other claims (atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, denominationalism, etc.) under the dissecting microscope of God’s Word—eventually they will come to accept, and be able to defend, the one true religion of the one true God.

Likewise, we must prepare our children and grandchildren so that they can properly defend Christianity against the attacks made upon it by its enemies. From the philosopher who claims it is impossible to know anything at all, to the scientist who claims that we are little more than “naked apes,” attacks upon Christianity are never-ending. The atheist says he knows God doesn’t exist, the agnostic says neither he nor anyone else can know God exists, the skeptic says he doubts that God exists, the infidel says that if God exists, it is not the God of the Bible, and so on. Various forms of these false philosophies have crept into the church in some places, and have caused the untaught and the unstable to fall away. Children are especially vulnerable to such false teachings, as often they are required to study under teachers or professors who openly are antagonistic to Christianity. A young person’s plastic, impressionable mind is a prime target for the devil’s ungodly schemes. It is our responsibility to fill the minds of our children with truth (and evidence for that truth) so they will be able to withstand the “fiery darts of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). It has been said that a child’s mind is like Jell-O®—and that our job is to fill with all the “good stuff” before it “sets.” A study of the evidences supporting Christianity is a fine step in the right direction toward protecting both our children and the future of the church.

One thing is certain: we cannot teach what we do not know (Heb. 5:12). Our goal is heaven (Heb. 11:13-16). Our mission is not only to get there ourselves, but to take others with us as well (Matt. 28:18-20). It is our task to learn God’s Word (Psalm 119:11), and then to convey that Word to others for their ultimate salvation (Mark 16:15-16; John 3:16). Our society today is a questioning one. Rightly so! Religion cannot and must not rest on presumptive grounds or traditional heritage. People must investigate the claims of Christianity, and then see for themselves that those claims are both legitimate, factual, and above all, true.

Lastly, we must teach our children and grandchildren that God’s Word is more than just a “good book.” All too often, Christians relegate the early books of the Bible (i.e., Genesis) as mythological rather than historical. But consider what that is telling our children. We need to provide them with evidence that completely demonstrates the authority of the Bible as the only inspired book. This can be accomplished by studying the scientific foreknowledge found in Scripture, the prophetic accuracy of the Bible, the factual accuracy and overall unity of the Bible, etc. Such a study will impress on youngsters the importance and special nature of God’s Word.

Conclusion
All of this it must start at home—in homes like yours and mine. Every book that enters our homes should be examined for evolutionary falsehoods. We do not allow pornography into our homes, so why would we allow scientific foolishness that teaches our children to believe there is no God. Every television show that mentions those “million-year-old-fossils” should immediately be discussed with our children. If we don’t have the answers to their questions, then we must, as God’s archers, seek diligently to find the answers. It is our responsibility—not the preacher’s, not the elders’, and not the Sunday school teacher’s. We must seize every opportunity to guide, train, direct, strengthen, and lead our children (and grandchildren) so that once those arrows leave our hands, we have absolutely no doubt as to where they will land.

Find great resources from Brad Harrub, Ph.D. at FocusPress.org