How do we teach our kids about other faith systems? The first and most important step is to lay a foundation. Always, always start by emphasizing how much God loves all people and that we are to love all people as well. But love doesn’t mean that we have to believe what they believe or stop believing what we believe! So where does a parent start? Actually it starts by finding ways to emphasize some critical foundational Truths, there is some preemptive work that goes ahead of helping our kids understand other worldviews. Here is a list of what I believe are the most important Truths for children to learn, and I mean learn from the earliest ages.
One: Truth exists
Can there be a more critical fact? Imagine for a minute that Truth didn’t exist. Words would become meaningless. No one would know what to expect from one minute to the next because reality couldn’t be trusted. Patterns would be seen a tricks of the universe. No one could know anything at all if Truth didn’t exist. This is the most important thing for children to understand and I’ll tell you why; because we are actually interested in Truth above all other pursuits! I don’t want to believe a lie anymore than I want a Muslim to believe a lie or an atheist to believe a lie. We have to learn to think critically about what makes something true and what makes it false. Relative truth, the belief that something can be true for you and not true for another person is one of the strangest concepts that our kids will be taught, what a bizarre notion. Nonetheless, we will need to help our kids understand that Truth by definition cannot be relative and here are some ways that you can do that.
With kids I basically just say, “Truth is so important!” and they nod in agreement. This is because kids are actually smart, they intuitively know that something can’t be this and that at the same time. A great game to plan is two truths and a lie where they say two real things that happened during the day and then make up one lie (its like a lying freebie! How often does that happen?) Do this at the dinner table, but don’t leave it at a game, use it as a conversation starter! Ask them how they knew you were lying when it was your turn. Help them to become Truth Detectives that learn to ask good questions to discover what is and isn’t the Truth. Games like this develop logical thinking and when they are fun they also reinforce your relationship with them. This is win-win.
And never tolerate lying. I wrote about lying on a different blog site – you can read that article here.
Two: We can know God exists
This is also critical for kids to understand. Now they might be shocked that someone doesn’t believe that God exists, but you should still ask them from time to time how they know that God exists. Here are some excellent answers:
- Because you and mom believe that God exists. There is nothing wrong with this response, it means you are an influential parent, well done.
- Because I felt Him at Summer Camp/Church. This is also key, we need to help our kids have experiences with God which means we need to get them into places where they can have those experiences or into challenging situations where they need God.
- Because the world exists. If God wasn’t real, how did we get here? Pull out a science textbook and marvel at the universe. Go for a walk. Talk about your amazing body (or at least your previously amazing 20-year-old body). Then talk about Psalm 139. Science proves God exists!
- Because I know right from wrong. There is this thing called a conscience that tells us what is right and what is wrong. How come so many people hear their conscience telling them the same thing? It’s because God put it there!
Three: There is only one God and one way to heaven
With the benefits of multiculturalism comes the challenge of pluralism. Pluralism simply means that one or more systems of authority exists. Pluralism with food is great! Pluralism in religion is ok, but not when the message is that this means that every religion has equal merit. No, most religions have some merit, but they do not all have equal merit. Some religions are more true than others. The Bible tells us that Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). That should be enough to dismiss religious pluralism but for many people it isn’t. We need to help our kids understand the various major world religions so that they can see the differences for themselves. More about that in future posts.
Four: Being a Christian is about being in a relationship
This is a key Truth because it distinguishes Christianity from every other religion in the world. That means that if your child is asking hard questions, the most important thing you can do is point them back to Jesus! We can hear God and have a real relationship with Him. Help your kids to know God as a friend! We have already written on this topic so I won’t write more here, except to say that it will be difficult for our kids to believe that Christianity is about a relationship if they don’t see you modelling it. Talk often about your devotions and what the Lord is telling you.
Five: We can trust the Bible
I cannot tell you how many people don’t know how to defend the reliability of the Bible. Parents! This is kind of important! A few years ago I discovered a graphic by an artist who mapped all the cross references in the Bible, the result is stunning (check it out here). Well today as I was doing a bit of research I found the skeptics version of the same infographic. (Just for fun, you can see it here.) Well what do you do when you come across stuff like this? I found it simply by googling a different question and that means that your kids could stumble on it just as easily. (Our second grader understands the basics of google quite well already.)
Well we need to help our kids trust the Bible! I wrote a blog on it a few months ago which will help them with the basics but what about you? Parents we need to be equipped with more than the basics. I recommend a couple of articles and sites that will help. (And a video below!)
These are foundational Truths that we need to help our kids with. It can start very early, certainly pounding the importance of Truth in general can start as soon as they are old enough to lie (out of the womb?). And I think the rest follow in a somewhat age-appropriate way, but don’t let that stop you from telling your three-year-old that God’s Word is all true! I assure you, logical truth and strong attachment to you will equip them for tremendous storms in the future!
Keep commenting or emailing those specific questions! I will address them!