This is a guest post by Tim and Tami Thurber
“…you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up.” Deut. 6:7 NETAs a Church and as parents, we are failing.
Christians are doctrinally illiterate. In 2002 the Barna group found that 52% of evangelicals say there is no original sin. That same study revealed that 46% of Protestants say truth is not found in the Bible, but through logic, human reasoning, and personal experience. Unfortunately, we cannot expect that in the last ten years the numbers have gotten better!
What is the cause of this? There are many factors, but the majority of the blame must fall on parents. At least, that is where God puts the blame. God wants parents to hand down their faith and beliefs to their children. Deuteronomy 6:7 gives us guidance for this handing down.
This verse begins by saying that parents should teach their children God’s commands. Whatever God has revealed to us through Scripture, we must make sure our children know. The word in Deuteronomy 6:7 translated “teach” means to “engrave.” We are to be intentional about making sure our children know who God is and what he has done. Being intentional means we must plan and make time for this instruction. This may mean that we sacrifice other things, even some hobbies we enjoy or value, in order to make sure that this teaching time happens. There are many ways to teach Christian beliefs to our children. Some of them involve using tools, such as the family devotional, Handing It Down, that we wrote.
But being intentional about handing down our beliefs is not the only way we teach our children. Deuteronomy 6:7 goes on to say that we are to speak to our children when we are at home and as we walk along the road, as we lie down and as we get up. Speaking to our children about God involves taking the opportunities outside of intentional teaching times to talk about our beliefs. When we are at home, we might use a household chore to pass on the belief that we are to do everything for the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31) When we are traveling to the store or school or on vacation we might use a child’s delight at a flower, tree, or cloud to exclaim over God’s creativity and wisdom.
We are also to speak as we lie down and as we get up. We speak to our children about God in the morning, evening, and every time in between. God wants us to be ready all the time to speak to our children about him.
As we become more intentional about teaching our children, and take advantage of the spontaneous opportunities that come, we can stem the tide of biblical illiteracy.
Tim and Tami Thurber are adjunct professors at Davis College. They co-authored a book titled, “Handing it Down: Teaching Your Children the Basic Truths of Faith.” This book is a family devotional designed to help lead the next generations into a deeper understanding of the truths of Christianity. This easy-to-read, insightful book covers deep theological topics without drowning the reader. The Thurber’s believe it’s time that we teach our children WHAT we believe and WHY we believe it – not just how to live it.
“Finally a tool for parents to teach their children ‘what we believe’ in a systematic yet creative and interesting manner. In an age of Biblical and doctrinal illiteracy, the Thurber’s have hit a home run.” – Chip Ingram, Senior Pastor, Venture Christian Church, Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge.
The Barna Group, “Americans Draw Theological Beliefs From Diverse Points of View,” http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/82-americans-draw-theological-beliefs-from-diverse-points-of-view?q=original+sin, (accessed May 2, 2012).