This is the fourth of a multi-part series. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5
Phil held up a cat skull for his Advanced Biology lab partner, Tatsuo, to see. “I boiled it down after we used it in Animal Studies.”
“Cool!” exclaimed Tatsuo as he took the skull in his hand.
“God’s creation is amazing,” I added, though as a cat lover, I felt a bit disgusted at the sight of a dead feline.
“I believe in evolution. This cat and everything else evolved from a single cell,” replied Phil.
“Well, the Bible says that God created everything.”
“How do you know what the Bible says is true?” asked Phil.
“Because what the Bible says is true.” At age 18, I didn’t know what else to say.
Knew the Bible But Not Its Defense
I was raised in the church, regularly attended Sunday school, VBS, youth group, and Christian camps. At age nine, I began having personal devotions. When fifteen, I read the whole Bible in a year. The summer before my high school senior year, I worked as a junior counselor at a Christian camp. I knew how to present the gospel.
Yet, I had no idea how to defend my faith.
I knew what the Bible said, but I didn’t know how to demonstrate that we can trust it as the word of God.
To make matters worse, my college freshman course on the Gospel of Mark introduced me to Higher Criticism. By faith, I clung onto my belief that the scriptures were reliable and rejected these ideas on principle. Yet, I didn’t know at that time that evidence for the reliability of the scriptures existed. (See my post series “Dusty Pages or Divine Word?” for more on this topic.)
Parents, don’t let your children experience this same problem. Many students abandon the faith when they can’t defend it. When confronted by claims from science, the culture, and liberal biblical scholars, they come up short and assume Christianity can’t stand up to scrutiny.
Defending the Faith
In my previous post in this series, I explained the importance of grounded your children in scripture and in understanding what it says. This is the first step in developing a biblical worldview. But it isn’t enough. I had that background. Still, I floundered when people questioned the Bible.
Teaching your children how to defend the gospel is as important as instructing them in the faith. Not only for when they are confronted by others, but also to defend it to themselves when doubts creep into their minds.
Doubts are nothing to be afraid of. Young children will agree with whatever their parents teach them. But as they grow older, they need to explore and even question what they’ve been taught. This way, they make their faith their own.
You and your children need to know not only what you believe but why you believe it.
Develop Your Defense
Our culture tells us that faith is blind, that no evidence exists to support our beliefs. That’s a lie. Christianity is a reasonable, evidence-based faith. In Acts 17:2-3, Luke describes how Paul, when preaching in the synagogues, used reason and evidence for the gospel.
And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”Acts 17:2-3 (NASB)
Numerous resources exist to help you and your children learn how to defend the faith. This area of study is called apologetics. Don’t let this seminary-sounding word scare you. This comes from the Greek word apologia, which means defense, as in a defense lawyer making his case in a courtroom. In the case of Christian apologetics, you are making an argument for someone to believe the gospel and the biblical worldview.
I had my first exposure to the concept of a worldview back in 2004 when I attended a Worldview Academy weekend conference. This organization focuses on training youth, but this conference was for adults. I greatly enjoyed the material and felt God calling me to stand for the truth in my culture. I endeavored to learn more and to train my children to understand and defend the biblical worldview.
Below I have listed some resources I’ve used with my children.
Preschool and Elementary
The Thinkwell Worldview Primer is a spiral-bound collection of flashcards set up like a catechism. One card asks a question, and the next one has the question with the answer. Even though young children may not understand all the ideas contained in this primer, they can memorize these questions and answers. When they grew older, they can learn more about these topics.
Example questions: What is a worldview?; What is an atheist?; Explain general revelation; What is moral relativism?; What is the holy book for Muslims?
When my kids were young, I taught them one or two questions a week while reviewing previous ones.
What We Believe series by Apologia (grades 4 to 8)
When my daughter was in upper elementary, we used the first book in this series, Who Is God?, as a homeschool course. The text is easy to follow and contains stories to illustrate some of the points. The chapter questions can lead to family discussions. Even if you don’t homeschool, this resource can help you teach your child the doctrines about God.
A Young Historian’s Introduction to Worldview (grades 5 to 8)
I used this four-lesson curriculum when my son was in middle school. It discusses the fundamental beliefs of four worldview families: polytheism, monotheism, pantheism, and naturalism. Then it describes twelve religions and philosophies that fit into these worldview families.
This curriculum comes with hands-on activities that provide a concrete way to learn about these abstract topics. I found the grouping of worldviews helpful for me to understand them better.
Being a short curriculum, a non-homeschool family can easily find time for it.
During his senior year, my son attended a biblical worldview homeschool course. One assignment option included watching a series of worldview DVDs such as The Ways of the Wizards Versus the Way of the Wiseman and others from Worldview Academy. That DVD teaches “four mind-opening questions” that teens (and adults) can ask nonbelievers about their own beliefs.
The biblical worldview course included a reading list of adult-level books on worldview and apologetics as well. Here are a few of them.
- Know Why You Believe by Paul E. Little (I haven’t read this one myself.)
- A Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (see my review)
- The Deadliest Monster: An Introduction to Worldviews by J. F. Baldwin
- How Now Shall We Live? by Charles Colson, Nancy Pearcey, and Harold Fickett
Adults (and High School)
In 2006, my husband and I started leading small groups through Focus on the Family’s biblical worldview curriculum, The Truth Project. This 13-week DVD program teaches believers how to develop a biblical worldview in various areas in life.
This resource has had a profound impact on my husband’s and my ability to think more biblically. After a multi-year hiatus, we began leading a group through The Truth Project again this fall (2019) with our high school daughter joining us. We’ve greatly enjoyed reviewing this life-transforming material.
Here’s a list of some of the ideas we gleaned from this program:
- The presenter, Del Tackett, often speaks of people being held captive by the lies of our culture and the devil. Working from Colossians 2:8, he encourages Christians to consider what cultural lies have taken them captive and to exchange those ideas for the truth.
- Many people find it easy to consider those who hold a different worldview as the enemy. Tackett reminds viewers that these people aren’t the enemy—the devil is. Instead, he encourages his students to consider others as being POWs held captive by the devil’s lies. This idea changed our view of those with opposing beliefs.
- Tackett teaches that the image of God isn’t just borne by individuals but also in relationships. God has filled his creation with sets of three, such as three states of matter or three primary colors. The triune God is also reflected in relationships such as marriage (God, man, and woman) and family (father, mother, and children). The devil attacks traditional marriage and family because he hates the image of God.
Focus on the Family also has a program similar to The Truth Project geared for high school and college students called TrueU.
Check out some of these resources today and begin your family’s journey in developing a biblical worldview. Then you will “…always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15 NASB).
In part 5, I will cover some more apologetic resources.