Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries offers ways in which parents can prepare their children to make a defense for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:5). But before parents can do that, they must be able to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) Besides the Bible, what else must parents know about to guard their children from error? Sharon has the answers…
My introduction to apologetics began when I was new in my walk as a Christian over twenty-eight years ago. Since that time, there have been countless conversations between my husband and me examining various teachings and belief systems that contradict our biblical faith. These conversations went hand in hand with studies we conducted because of challenges to our faith, the desire to minister to others, and the desire to be better informed. Our children could not have possibly avoided overhearing many of these conversations any more than my husband could have avoided hearing that “old country” music that his father played in their home while he was growing up. While I guessed that some of our biblical arguments would be assimilated by our children, I was not content to leave it to that. We worked to equip them intentionally.
Preparing our children to be ready to make a defense for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15), was an act of love not unlike the act of sharing our faith and the gospel with them. We wanted them to know and believe the truth about God and know how to defend it. Even a child can make a defense for their faith, even if it is very basic. A teenager certainly can. They can learn how to answer to error that could diminish, twist, or destroy the awesome truths of God. The thought of our children being unprepared for those challenges was unacceptable to me.
First, Be an Apologist
We are all called to obey 1 Peter 3:15 whether we have children are not. So, the first step of teaching your child(ren) to be able to defend their hope in Christ relies on something you will hopefully experience as a Christian anyway. The first step in raising apologists is becoming an apologist if you are not one already. That doesn’t mean you have to start a formal ministry or website. It does mean that you should make an effort to be ready to answer challenges to Christianity, being ready to give an account for the hope that is in you. How do you become an apologist? Pray for the Lord’s help and study your Bible. Know what it says. Your best defense for the hope that is in you will always come from the scriptures. You may not study various debating techniques or logical fallacies or be an expert on the world’s religions or cults, but you can know what the Bible says. With this knowledge, you can equip your children. And honestly, you might need to defend your faith to them! A ten year old can have some tough questions!
It will also help to become prepared to answer specific questions relating to groups and individuals that contradict biblical Christianity. Read up on different world views, world religions, cults, and various questionable groups and teachers. At first, you may wish to choose one that interests you and focus on it. Oftentimes what you learn from defending the truth of Christianity in one situation can be applied in others. In the old days we had to DRIVE to the bookstore a few towns over to learn about these things. But today, you don’t have to. There is so much online.
If you look online, start with reputable Christian sites testing everything you read by the scriptures. Good sites will contrast various teachings with the Bible oftentimes giving good answers to tough questions. You can also gain from reading original material from the groups or individuals you are studying. It’s one thing to read what someone says about a particular group or teacher. It is another thing altogether to read it directly from the source. Doing so is good and fair research, and contrasting what you find with your own beliefs and the Bible is a good exercise that can sharpen your faith. In regards to what you already believe, keep the highest regard for the scriptures and be willing to change your own beliefs if after lots of prayer and study you can see they do not line up with what the Bible teaches. In addition to all these things, you may also find it helpful to learn about logic and philosophy. Whenever you use what you learn from your studies, work to keep humility and love intact. The goal is to glorify God and to promote correct biblical knowledge and true worship, not to win arguments. Continue reading
Apologetics Resources–On Solid Rock Resources
H/T Glenn Chatfield