Tag Archives: education

The Need for Christians to Read the Bible

Statistics show that few people take the time to actually read the Bible.  A survey conducted by Lifeway of 2,930 Protestant churchgoers indicates that only 19% read the Bible everyday and that 18% rarely or never read the Bible.  Furthermore, only 1 in 5 Americans claims to have read the Bible from cover to cover.  The American Bible Society also reports on the distressing Bible reading trends.

The trouble with these reports should be self-evident.  As Christians, we make the bold claim that the Bible is the very Word of God, but many of us do not regard as such in practice.  The average churchgoer can probably tell you a number of books that they have read, but the Bible, strangely, is not on that list.

So, why is it so important to read the Bible?  Here are a few reasons that I can think of right off the top of my head:

  1. It is the Word of God.  This should be sufficient reason alone for someone to want to read the Bible in its entirety.  Indeed, this is good enough reason to make Bible reading and study a lifelong practice.
  2. It is in the pages of Scripture that we learn about Jesus Christ – the one and only path to the Father.
  3. It prepares us, as Christians, to engage with the world we live in.  Christians should make Bible reading and study a habit so that we know what the Word says.  We should not be part of the number that thinks Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife, or that “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible.  In order for us to engage the world with a developed Biblical worldview, we must read the Bible.
  4. It provides the ethical and moral system by which God expects us to live by.
  5. It allows us to see the Bible as a whole and not as a bunch of random texts that are often read without context.
  6. It has had a profound impact on our culture throughout history that can be seen in numerous places, including literature, art, music, and history.

I am sure that you can probably add your own reasons to this list, but these are what popped into my head first.

While reading the Bible as individuals is important, I also think it is vital that families read the Bible together.  This allows for questions to be asked and answered; deep, thoughtful discussions to take place; doubts and concerns to be expressed in a safe and supportive environment; and it can help families have aligned values.  Reading the Bible in its entirety as a family is also important because it exposes difficult passages that are often overlooked.  Christians should be aware of difficult passages and have some idea, or framework, for how to deal with these.  This framework may vary depending on your theology (Arminian, Calvinist, etc.), but it will help guide you in understanding the Bible as a whole.

This last point, understanding the Bible as a whole, is of critical importance.  I have strange suspicion that a lot of people know bits and pieces of the Bible and build a caricature of the whole thing from those parts.  Similarly, I think many Christian try to engage culture with a very keen knowledge of a very small amount of Scripture, but do not have a good grasp of the whole Word of God.  Having an understanding of the Bible as a whole is of enormous value to mature faith.  After all, the canon of Scripture was given to us for a reason, and that is to learn what God has to say to us.

Happy reading!

Leaving the Crib

I was listening to a podcast from William Lane Craig’s Defenders class the other day and was struck by a particular point he made.  Many people have no desire to grow in their faith.  They are simply comfortable sitting back and never thinking through either what they believe or why they believe it.  For these folks, the idea is that they have a “childlike” faith that has a noble quality, but is this truly the case?

Craig makes the point that many people have what is actually a “childish” faith and not “childlike.”  To have faith like a child is to be fully trusting in one that is greater, stronger, wiser, etc.  This is typical of the faith you see between a child and parent (obviously there are parents who fail miserably).  This is good and desirable.  In fact, Christ expects us to have faith like that of a child (Matt. 18:2-3).

The faith that does not seek to grow and develop is childish.  This is not something to be striven for, but just the opposite.

The Scriptures plainly tell us to use our intellect in our relationship to God.

Matt. 22:37 – Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  (NIV)

1 Cor. 14:20 – Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

So, you can see that we are to have faith like that of a child, but we are to grow and mature in our thinking.   It is important for us to learn about our faith and have the ability to articulate what we believe.

The question then becomes one of where to begin.  If you have never seriously studied the Bible, then I must say that the place to begin is right there.  Don’t just dive in at random places, but have systematic plan in place.  There are many Bible reading programs that can be used to help keep you on track with reading through the Bible in one or two years.  In addition to reading the Scriptures it is also good to learn about the many doctrines of the faith.  For this, I feel a good introduction is the book, Christianity 101 (click here for Christianbook.com)  I read it years ago an like the way he treats varying viewpoints.  His approach allows you, the reader, to come to conclusions on your own.

All in all, it is my hope that each of us seeks to grow daily in our faith.  While we desire faith that is childlike, let us never confuse that with childish.

 

 

Indoctrination

From time to time you will hear the accusation leveled against Christians that we are indoctrinating our children when we teach them the faith. For some, the idea of “indoctrinating” someone is intolerable and must at all costs be avoided. For others, like myself, the response is: what’s the big deal? After all, indoctrination is happening whether we are involved or not. I just happen to prefer the notion of being directly involved in the shaping of my child’s life.

There are some people who will say that they refuse to teach their faith in the house because it is unfair to the children and that the young people should be allowed to make their own decisions. But, we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in a world that is full of ideas and worldviews that are being pumped into the minds of people 24/7. So, they hand over the task of teaching their children a doctrine about the world, shaping their worldview, to the school system, television, radio, print media, and peers. Interestingly enough, in an effort to step away from “indoctrinating” their children, they have simply subcontracted the job out to others. Perhaps this is in an effort to feel better about themselves or there is some sense of parental ineptitude.

Regardless, handing over a parent’s influence in a child’s life to whomever it may concern is terribly irresponsible and a disservice to the child. Parents are put into the life of a child for more than the purpose of birth. Our job is not just to see them safely delivered from the womb and then provide room and board while the state, or society, shapes their mind and brings them into adulthood. That is the mindset of some sort of socialist system. Instead, mom and dad are key in raising up a strong and civil society. It is in the home that values are transmitted (more on that another day), a work ethic is instilled, and a way of seeing and understanding the world is developed.

Indoctrination is unavoidable. Companies seek to indoctrinate employees, the military indoctrinates our nation’s warriors, the media indoctrinates its audience, and the list could go on. So, if indoctrination is unavoidable, the question becomes: why shouldn’t I be involved? If I shirk my responsibility as a parent and say, “go ahead school, teach my child everything they need to know about the world,” I have still been involved in the indoctrination of my child. Passive involvement is still involvement.

There are also those that have been duped into the idea that, if only they remove religious influences from the home, the charge of indoctrination cannot fall on them. But this is nonsense. If you filter information, then you are involved in indoctrination. This is indoctrination by omission instead of commission. So, for the parents that believe they have done their child a favor by omitting religious teaching from the home in an effort to be free from indoctrination, I must tell you that you failed miserably. Indeed, you have been just as involved in indoctrinating your child as those you sought to avoid being like. You have simply indoctrinated your children into irreligion. And, if you are so irresponsible as to shirk all duties in the shaping of your child’s worldview, then you have just allowed someone else to indoctrinate your child and sacrificed the tremendous opportunity you were given by God to have an active role in the shaping of that child.

I say all of this to encourage parents to be involved in the shaping of your child’s worldview. Be actively engaged in their life. Take time to talk and play together. Live out what is important to you in your daily life and your children will take note. Show your love for one another, demonstrate a love for God, and be available to answer questions as best as you can. As the days march on a parent’s direct influence becomes increasingly less and the youngster will soon grow into a man or woman and start a family of his or her own. Please, don’t let those precious days go by without making the effort to positively impact your child’s life.

Is a Christian Education a Quality Education?

Ever so often I will have a conversation that calls for me to mention the testimony of an expert. Occasionally, the person I am talking to will call into question the credibility of the scholar I refer to because they studied at a Christian school. I must admit, the first time this happened I was taken aback at the atheistic snobbery on display before me. I wondered what exactly it was that would cause a person to think that the only good education is either a state education, or one that comes from a private secular school. So, let’s consider the general subjects that a person studies in school to see what would give an atheist pause.

  1. Language (grammar, composition, and literature). Are Christian schools teaching a unique form of grammar and composition that is incompatible with the surrounding culture? Perhaps it is the literature component that causes the problem.  After all, a Christian school would introduce Christian Literature and have tighter reigns on regulating vulgarity. While possible, I have serious doubts that this is the issue.
  2. Math. I am pretty well convinced that 2+2=4 and that algebra, geometry, and the like are the same at Christian schools as they are at their secular counterparts. So, I also doubt that this is the issue.
  3. History. I am also confident that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue regardless of where you go to school. Now, it may be true that you are more likely to run into the teaching of American exceptionalism at a Christian school (Oh! The horror!). And, students will be exposed to elements of church history in addition to the standard material. It would seem to me, however, that this would be a plus for students at Christian schools. Surely, this is not the problem.
  4. Science. Considering that none of the other subjects appear too problematic, that brings us to the subject of science. I am certain that the periodic table of elements, speed of light, and so forth are the same regardless of where you go to school. But, there is one area that I can really see troubling the atheist: the teaching of evolution.  Most Christian schools will teach their pupils that the God of the Bible is the Creator and, as such, created the heavens and the earth.  I am not familiar with every Christian school, but I do know that many, if not most, teach their students about the theory of evolution. However, students will often learn not only the mechanisms of evolution, but also how to evaluate it critically. Again, it seems that this would be a bonus for students at Christian schools. To the secularists, though, this is the most egregious offense. Evolution permeates the secular, humanistic worldview. And, the secularist knows that without molecules-to-man evolution the only other recourse is to turn to the supernatural for a creator. So, I am pretty sure that it is the teaching of science with an eye to critically questioning evolution that causes the secularist to think that a Christian education is a substandard education.

Sure, there are other subjects that could be listed, but I doubt that the teaching in any of those subjects would be as contentious as it is in science.

From where I sit, there is no reason to question the education of someone that attends a Christian school. Both systems of education teach a faith. One teaches faith in the God of the Bible, while the other teaches faith in evolution.