2015 | Week of April 13 – #1093
Looking back on my childhood, I know I was taught to apologize—especially to my brother. And I got plenty of practice. But I’m pretty sure I was never in my intact, married-mom-and-dad family taught, purposefully, to give an apology for my Christian faith. Of course I’m using apology here in the sense of defending my faith. I know I never took a course in apologetics, the area of theology dedicated to defending or proving Christianity—and I attended a Christian university.
Whatever I know of apologetics today has been gleaned from years of study on my own, especially over the last nearly 18 years since I’ve been with Wisconsin Family Council.
I don’t think my early experience is atypical, sadly. Of course, in my growing up years, the majority of people believed and lived according to what we often refer to as Judeo-Christian principles and values. Certainly some questioned—even publicly—but the public schools and other public institutions and even elected officials still positively referred to God and Christianity.
Perhaps a generation or so ago, families didn’t think it was imperative for them to conscientiously teach the next generation to defend the faith—to provide thoughtful answers to questions such as how did the universe begin? What is the source of death and suffering in the world? If there is a God, why do bad things happen to good people? What proof do we have for a universal flood?
Whatever the reason, I’m pretty sure our family wasn’t unique—and we faithfully attended and were very active in a good Bible-preaching and teaching church wherever we lived. Unfortunately, that collective sense of well-being was, as we now see, a figment of our imagination. Forces were at work in the 50s and 60s—and even before, albeit it mostly covertly—to destroy Christianity in America—and the family is the main means by which it would be accomplished.
The attacks on God’s plan for marriage and family are vicious and relentless today—and overt, no longer covert. From redefining marriage to considering children as belonging to the collective state; from no-fault, no contest divorce to promoting unwed childbirth and cohabitation, God’s plan of one man and one woman in a complementary, monogamous, lifelong relationship and any children that are born or adopted into the relationship is being ridiculed, derided, maligned and marginalized and aggressively destroyed. Thus, society’s must important foundational institution is struggling to do much of what it was intended to do…that is, bring up the next generation with strong values and a strong faith, including the ability to defend one’s faith.
In the midst of all this, the level of intensity and the aggression associated with questions about our Christian faith have definitely increased. And we now have at least two generations woefully unprepared to defend the Christian faith.
What to do? The answer is at once both simple and difficult. The answer is that families must take seriously the purposeful, intentional, regular, maybe even systematic teaching of apologetics. That likely means dads and moms are going to have to study and learn themselves. And that means churches are going to need to begin offering courses or workshops that are dedicated to dealing with the tough questions and issues of our day from a biblical perspective and giving people the tools they need to give a reasoned defense of the authority of Scripture from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21, including the origin of life, the universe, death and suffering, and the literal bodily death, burial and resurrection of our Savior.
The family is God’s plan for teaching children. Ultimately, God commissioned parents to teach their children, to see to it that they come to faith in Christ, that they know what they believe and why they believe it and that they can defend that faith in a culture that is more and more hostile to Christianity. God told the Israelites to teach their children the things of God diligently, talking of them when they were sitting in their houses, when they were outside walking, when they were lying down and rising up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and between your eyes—and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deut. 6:6-9).
Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles—you teach your children to apologize for wrong doing. Are you diligently teaching them apologetics—so that they not only don’t forsake their faith but so that they can give to the world reasons, solid reasons, for the hope that they have? There’s still time. Let’s redeem this generation and prepare for them for what’s ahead.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”