It seems to be a tragic and trending phenomena in the church. Hundreds of millennials and those just younger, are turning to atheism. These are not always children of careless or inattentive parents. Further, they are often those who have graduated from Christian universities—even those who have shown great potential and talent as they worked in the kingdom. But something went terribly wrong. And parents in their fifties and sixties are deeply hurting.
Sometimes, it’s an incremental journey. Parents and elders and friends can sometimes detect that the ship is sailing toward unbelief when a person begins to take issue with what he calls “traditional viewpoints” in classes or private studies. These “traditional beliefs” are often those that are grounded deeply in Scripture and have irrefutable divine authority behind them. Often the dissenter will then begin absenting himself from worship services, first on occasion and then more often. He will distance himself from the close friends (people of faith) with whom he once spent lots of time. All too often, it is during this time that the world’s immorality pulls hard and begins to slowly destroy the moral and ethical compass of these precious souls. Faithful people of God need to be sacrificial in spending time with these skeptics and confronting the growing unbelief with reasoned Biblical teaching, done in love.
Truth be told, though, it’s probably late for apologetics teaching when the skepticism develops after college. I’ve come to see more and more that it is extremely critical that the probing questions of children find answers from parents who are not afraid to go digging, themselves, for the evidences that solidify faith. This has to be done, of course, one question at the time, as kids grow up. My son, who just turned 40, noted recently that, while teaching a class of teens, who were believers, he asked them questions about how they know the Bible is the Word of God. While their answers were Biblical, they were cyclical. They know that the Word is from God because it says it is from God. “All scripture is given by inspiration…and is profitable…” (2 Timothy 3:16). When a child asks how we know the Bible is different from all of the other books on our shelves at home, we have to be willing to do whatever it takes to be sure those answers are presented to them in understandable form. This involves researching the accuracy of Scripture—its foreknowledge and predictive prophecy, learning about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the evidence for things like the flood of Noah’s day and the resurrection of our Lord. It’s the stuff of great home education term papers or science projects. It takes time to prepare kids for the barrage of neo-”science” that the university peers and professors will present. The skeptics will speak in terms that will make your kids’ faith appear very backward. Students must understand the apologetics behind faith and be able to articulate the arguments for the authenticity of Scripture in order to survive the criticisms of faith in the classrooms of non-believing academia or in the high tech workplaces after graduation.
The pulpits and classrooms of congregations should be full of the Bible, but also, they should be full of apologetics resources. Bible Land Passages, Apologetics Press and Christian Courier are excellent sources of curriculum for the foundational evidences kids need as they grow.
It’s unfortunate, but true, that every single argument postulated by atheists to discredit creationism, or the authenticity of Scripture must be answered individually. There is no “one size fits all” answer for the many arguments made to discredit belief in God and the Bible. Every perceived Biblical contradiction, every historic or archaeological discovery that seemingly contradicts the Biblical account must be countered with study and reason. That takes a massive amount of time. But it’s also true that one plausible rectification—one possible explanation—for any contradiction is enough to nullify any argument’s power. It just takes one possible and reasonable way that the Bible could be accurate on any point to sustain its claims of inspiration (until the next argument is presented. Then the diligent parent does it all over again, researching and answering.)
Moms and grandmothers, I am praying that more of us in the body will have the grit and determination it takes to be sacrificial in fortifying the faith of our children. The house, the job, the health, the entertainment, the education, the popularity, the money…nothing else matters if sustained without faith. All is vanity without faith.