A lesson for all Christian families
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
Many readers may be aware that I’m an Australian. Growing up “down under” offered some unique experiences, including the time I once talked to an old Australian aboriginal elder. This aborigine recalled roaming the deserts with his family many years ago when they were in their tribal state. This old man had since become a Christian. He remembered that as a little boy—bound in his spiritist, anti-God culture—he asked his father one day, “What is God like, Father?” He said his father turned to him, and after a long pause said, “I don’t know, Son. We’ve forgotten.”
His father had forgotten because his father before him had forgotten. Their ancestors had known, but somewhere in their ancestry, a father had not passed on the truth about the God of creation to the next generation.
In Psalm 78:2-6 we read, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children …” Many other passages in the Bible likewise command fathers to teach their children so that the correct information is passed on to, and implemented by, the next generation (e.g., Isaiah 38:19; Ephesians 6:4). Now, what does this have to do with the family and Christian education?
Sadly, as I have pondered my conversation with this Australian aboriginal, I realize that this same problem is being reflected not only within Christian families here in America, but also in Christian education. As I’ve had the opportunity to speak in hundreds of churches and dozens of schools in America and around the world, I have noticed that the current generation does not have enough knowledge to defend the basics of their faith, much less to a skeptical generation.
Our AiG ministry and Creation Museum commissioned a poll four years ago that attempted to provide an answer to the current crisis of why so many young people who had grown up attending a Bible-believing church had stopped going to church once they left home. (I heard a leading Christian spokesman state that up to 70 percent of young people in Christian families who attend public schools will abandon the church.) The poll revealed that a significant number (nearly 80 percent) of young adults who were former churchgoers had already decided to leave the church when they were in middle school or high school, and that it was not a decision they made when in college.
This nationwide poll revealed that one major reason young people are leaving the church was that the church (including Christian schools) and parents were not equipping youngsters with a strong foundation upon which Christianity is built, including how to defend the Christian faith from the skeptical questions of our age.
From my experience of reviewing various Christian school textbooks and visiting some Christian schools, here is what I have largely discovered (with some happy exceptions): they basically take a secular way of thinking and just stamp God’s Word on it. In other words, they put a few Bible verses in the textbooks. And then we wonder why our young people don’t have a Christian worldview?
Even more important than the texts that a school will use, true Christian education should be built upon this principle: the family is the first and most fundamental of all human institutions which God ordained in Scripture, and it is the educational unit which God uses to transmit His knowledge from one generation to the next. I believe that a lack of a solidly biblical approach in this whole area of education is doing great harm to an entire generation of Christian children, and even undermines what Christian schools are trying to achieve. After all, parents have their children much longer than do the schools, but many parents have the expectation that the Christian schools they send their children to must do the educating.
Now, according to the Bible, who is supposed to be the primary educator for children? It is the father (except, of course, when mothers are forced to raise their children without a father). One of the greatest problems in Christian homes today is that most husbands and fathers do not carry out their God-commanded responsibility to be the spiritual head of their family and to train their children. Instead, they leave it to others.
The 78th chapter of Psalms is a long one, but every parent and schoolteacher should read it. Basically it is saying, over and over, fathers, teach your children so they’ll not forget to teach their children, so that they might not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments. Interestingly, in the last part of Psalm 78, you read that the Israelites did forget the works of God, which is why they ended up adopting the pagan religions of the day—because the fathers did not teach the children.
In America and other parts of the Western world today, the father and mother increasingly assume, “Oh, the kids are going to church and Sunday school, and we have them in a Christian school setting. They’ll be fine.” Parents, we should be making sure that our young people are getting their Bible teaching and Christian worldview training from home—from studying the Word of God as a family, and then also using Christian schooling plus church teaching.
Those people who attempt to justify their belief that children should not be in a Christian school or homeschooled often say, “Well, we’re supposed to be the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13 says we are supposed to be the salt, but if it loses its flavor, it’s then contaminated salt—no longer good for anything. Also, Mark 9:50 says, “Have salt in yourselves.” You can’t be the salt of the earth until you’ve got salt—uncontaminated salt. It’s our job as parents (particularly the father as the spiritual head of the house) to be pouring in the uncontaminated salt. You can’t be salt until you have salt!
Training children means much more than just daily Bible reading. It means sharing a Christian worldview about everything, all the time, as naturally as breathing. In every interaction teachers and parents have with children, they can help teach them a Christian way of thinking.
To conclude, let me give you a little test. I believe it would be a real eye-opener if Christian school administrators and parents were willing to print out this test and hand it to each teacher at their school. It might be shocking. Our experience at AiG has shown that the majority of Christian teachers and parents could not answer most of these questions:
- What is the best evidence you would use to defend your belief that there is a God, and who created the world?
- Where did Cain find his wife?
- How do you explain the origin of all the different races of people in the world?
- When did the dinosaurs live?
- For what do scientists use Carbon-14?
- Is there any evidence for Noah’s Flood? Where is it?
Unfortunately, many Christians today, when asked these same questions by their young people, give an answer similar to that of the father of the aboriginal elder quoted above, “I don’t know—we’ve forgotten.”
Here are very brief answers to the questions we posed, which every Christian parent and schoolteacher should know as they eventually send their young people into the world.
- Evidence for a Creator God?
The design and order of the universe, in particular living systems, demands an intelligent Designer. To deny the obvious signature of God in His creation is to be “without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Life is built on an information/code system (DNA)—which can only arise from an intelligence.
- Where did Cain get his wife?
Adam and Eve had “sons and daughters” (Genesis 5). Such unions were a problem by the time of Moses but were not a genetic problem so soon after creation.
- Where did the races come from?
All humans are descended from Noah’s family. Isolation of language groups following the dispersion at the Tower of Babel caused certain characteristics to be expressed which best fit the local environment.
- What about the dinosaurs?
The Bible reveals that land animals were created on day six of the creation week, along with people. There is much evidence that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time.
This dating method has nothing to do with dating things to be millions of years. All dating methods including carbon-14 are based on fallible assumptions. Also, Carbon-14 dating is only good on previously living organisms, not on rocks—a common misconception.
- Is there evidence for Noah’s Flood?
The global, mountain-covering flood described in the Bible laid down most of the world’s fossil-bearing (things that died in the Flood judgment) sedimentary (water-deposited) rock. To deny the Flood is to be “willingly ignorant” (II Peter 3:6).
Full answers to these questions, and many more, can be found on our website of AnswersInGenesis.org (which has about 7,000 articles) or by visiting our high-tech Creation Museum near Cincinnati.