10 Signs the Christian Authors You’re Following are (Subtly) Teaching Unbiblical Ideas

10 Signs the Christian Authors You’re Following are (Subtly) Teaching Unbiblical Ideas

My friend, Alisa Childers, recently wrote a review of the bestselling book, Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. It started a firestorm of online discussion about what makes someone a “Christian” author, what responsibility a self-identified Christian author has in promoting ideas consistent with biblical faith, and what harm there can be for Christians reading books that contain nonbiblical ideas.

I personally haven’t read the book, so I’m not going to comment on it specifically. But I will say I was extremely disappointed and saddened to see the kinds of comments supporters of the book wrote:

“It wasn’t meant to be a devotional.”

“She’s not teaching theology.”

“Our job is not to seek people out and hate them.”

“Stop competing! Just imagine what the non-Christians think about the McJudgies! We need to focus inward because the project within ourself is the most important work we will accomplish. Don’t use your blog to bring someone down.”

Unfortunately, such comments are representative of the lack of discernment common in the church today. If Alisa fairly characterized the claims of Hollis’s book, Hollis is promoting ideas that conflict with a biblical worldview. And when there is a concern that millions of women are consuming content from a Christian author that can lead them to embrace unbiblical ideas, we should be raising a warning flag and calling out for discernment in the body of Christ.

It’s not about being a “McJudgey.”

It’s about discerning biblical truth from non-truth…something the Bible consistently tells us to do.

While this post isn’t directly related to parenting (which I normally write about), it’s something that affects parenting. When parents readily incorporate popular but unbiblical ideas into their worldview, those ideas will affect how they raise their kids and the nature of the worldview they pass on.

The following are 10 signs that the Christian authors you’re following may be subtly teaching unbiblical ideas. I say “subtly” because I think most people would spot a problem immediately if a Christian said they didn’t believe in the Trinity. But it’s just as important to identify when less obvious warning signs—like the following—are present.

 

1. They say, “I love Jesus but…”

Continue reading: http://christianmomthoughts.com/10-signs-the-christian-authors-youre-following-are-subtly-teaching-unbiblical-ideas/

Prepare your kids

A young Christian I know who’s an undergraduate student posted on Facebook recently about a humanities class he’s taking. He said that, so far in the semester, he’s “learned” the following: Jesus never claimed to be God in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Christianity borrowed ideas from earlier pagan myths, and the church arbitrarily picked which books to include in the Bible according to its own biases. He noted, “The reactions of other students are of shock and disbelief. Yesterday the professor asked a student how these facts made her feel. She said she was mad and couldn’t wait to go yell at her pastor and parents. The professor egged her on. It was like watching a commander rally up his troops to tear down his enemy.”

The girl in the class was presumably ready to throw out years of Christian upbringing after a couple of months in a single college class. All because she heard some standard claims against Christianity for the first time…

~ Natasha Crain, If Your Kids Are Someday Shocked by the Claims of Skeptics, You Didn’t Do Your Job

“Just have faith”

I heard it over and over again growing up in my church, and I see other Christians say it all the time today: Just have faith. The predictable context is usually a difficult conversation about Christianity or the nature of God – for example, after a tragedy in the news. Unfortunately, “just have faith” is often the catch-all response Christians use when we can’t answer difficult questions. To be sure, we don’t have all the answers, and we should be honest with our kids about what the Bible does and does not tell us. But, oh, how dangerous it is for kids to believe that the primary answer to most difficult Christian questions is “just have faith.” Those three words, too carelessly tossed about, can leave a permanent impression on your kids that Christianity can’t answer tough questions and that blind faith is the answer.

~ Natasha Crain, 6 Ways You May Be Raising Your Kids with an Oversimplified Faith

14 Ways for Christian Parents to Teach Kids about Atheism

by Natasha Crain

14 Ways for Christian Parents to Teach Kids About Atheism

I suppose this a funny title for a post on a Christian parenting blog! But, as I often explain, we can no longer teach our kids about Christianity in a silo and expect them to automatically stand spiritually strong. The challenges today are too great. As I discussed in my last post, the atheist worldview in particular is a threat to the faith of young people.

In today’s post, I want to give you some very practical ideas for teaching your kids about atheism. The first seven are appropriate for kids of all ages, while the second seven are appropriate for middle school and older kids.

I should note that the first several ideas on this list are not necessarily for teaching the specificsof the atheist worldview. They do, however, lay an important foundation for future learning on the topic (e.g., with the last seven ideas on the list).

Without further ado, here are 14 ways to teach your kids about atheism.

 

1. Be intentional in pointing out that not everyone believes in God.

Depending on where you live and your kids’ educational setting, they may or may not have this basic fact fully on their radar. When I was growing up, I was very aware of different religions, but was hardly aware that there were people who didn’t believe in God until I was in high school!

The fact that God is invisible often comes up in our Bible study time with the kids (ages 5 and 3). I use it as an opportunity to acknowledge that it takes effort to understand a God we can’t see or touch, and that some people decide God must not exist if we can’t see him. I emphasize that God doesn’t just make us guess that He’s there, however; He has left us much evidence in what we can see. (See this post for discussion pointers.)

More at: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=543a95cdc760416f59a255c6b&id=9adbd9fc4a&e=32847b015c

16 Book Recommendations for Studying Apologetics

from Natasha Crain’s blog –  Comments

16 Book Recommendations for Studying ApologeticsI’ve been asked several times lately for book recommendations in the area of apologetics (learning to defend your faith), so today I’m giving you my top picks!

I’ve broken my recommendations into four areas, plus a bonus category of books that didn’t fit neatly elsewhere:

  • Nature of Truth and Worldviews
  • God
  • Jesus
  • The Bible

I’m giving you three picks in each category. The “required” pick is what I recommend as the starting point. The “extra credit” pick will take you deeper. The “advanced” pick will challenge you significantly.

Remember, we can’t equip our kids to meet today’s faith challenges unless we first equip ourselves. No matter where you are on your faith journey, you’ll find something here that will deepen your faith and better prepare you to raise kids who love the Lord.

Find them at http://christianmomthoughts.com/16-book-recommendations-for-studying-apologetics/

A Case Study of a Christian Turned Atheist

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A Case Study of a Christian Turned Atheist

In my next post, I’ll be returning to the 65 Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer series. But I wanted to spend some time today to give you a “case study” that demonstrates the importance of getting serious about spiritually preparing our kids for the world.

It comes from a comment I received recently on my post, 8 Reasons Why Kids Don’t Want to Go to Church, from someone who grew up in church but turned away from Christianity as an adult. I decided not to publish it as a comment on that post because I wanted to address it here without the commenter’s name attached.

This person’s comment includes several points of popular rationale for leaving Christianity. It’s (unfortunately) an excellent example of the worldview competing for your child’s heart and mind.

Below is the person’s comment, with my responses to you, as a Christian parent, in red italics.

http://christianmomthoughts.com/a-case-study-of-a-christian-turned-atheist/

7 Ways Christian Encouragement and Secular Encouragement Look Very Different

By  at Christian Mom Thoughts – Comments

7 Ways Christian Encouragement and Secular Encouragement Look Very Different

As much as I love Facebook, I’ve become jaded lately by the onslaught of memes offering simplified life wisdom. One in particular caught my eye this week. I don’t want to criticize the work of a specific site or person, so I’m not going to post the original photo here. It was from one of many sites devoted to “positive thinking” and featured the following advice:

 Tell Yourself:

  • Everything will work out.
  • Things will get better.
  • You are worthy of great things.
  • The time is now.
  • This too shall pass.
  • You can be who you really are.
  • You can do this.

At first glance, this looks like a simple list of encouraging (though cliché) statements. For some reason, however, I was struck by how a list of encouraging statements would look totally different if written from a Christian worldview. This list provides an excellent conversation starter for your kids and offers a great opportunity to discuss the difference between secular and Christian viewpoints in everyday living.

For each statement above, ask 1) what people typically mean when they say it and 2) how that matches or does not match what the Bible tells us. (You can tailor these explanations to any age; for younger kids, simply explain that people do make the statement, describe what it means, and discuss how that compares to what the Bible would say.)

The bottom line is that secular encouragement and Christian encouragement are rooted in vastly different worldviews.

I’ve provided a Christian “translation” for each statement and some key talking points below.

Secular encouragement: Everything will work out.

Christian encouragement: God works all things together for good for those who love Him.

When people say “everything will work out,” they typically mean “everything will work out in a way I’m OK with.” But much of this life is out of our control, so we’re not living in reality when we tell ourselves that. It’s also important to understand that things don’t “work out” (in that sense) any more so for Christians; the Bible makes it clear that we will face as many challenges as anyone else, and possibly more. That said, Romans 8:28 does tell us that God works all things together for good for those who love Him. That doesn’t mean everything in our lives will be good by our definition, but that God will take the things that happen (good or bad) and bring good out of them.

 

Secular encouragement: Things will get better.

Christian encouragement: You can pray for your deepest needs and desires.

Similar to the problem with “everything will work out,” we can never know that things will get better in this life by our personal definition. When, as Christians, we hope for a situation to improve, however, we can turn to our Creator. He hasasked us to bring our requests to Him. We can’t count on positive thinking to change a situation, but we can count on God hearing our prayers and answering them according to His will and purposes. That offers a hope that passive positive thinking cannot.

 

Secular encouragement:  You are worthy of great things.

Christian encouragement: You are invited to do great things for God’s kingdom.

On the whole list, this is probably the statement that is most contrary to a Christian worldview. Our entire purpose in this earthly life is to participate in and further God’s kingdom. Every one of us has gifts God has given us for that purpose, not because of any “worthiness” of our own, but by His grace.

 

Secular encouragement:  The time is now.

Christian encouragement: Your eternal life has already begun!

Author Dallas Willard, in his classic book “The Divine Conspiracy,” suggests that Christians too often see their lives in two separate phases: the earthly life, then a totally separate eternal life after. He emphasizes that we have a single, eternal life to live that we are already in the process of living – and that when we embrace that truth, our perspective is transformed. We stop passively waiting for another life to begin and start actively participating today in eternity. What an amazing thought. We are already living in eternity!

 

Secular optimism: This too shall pass.

Christian optimism: Your earthly troubles pale in comparison to eternal glory.

It sounds biblical, but the Bible never says “this too shall pass.” However, in 2 Corinthians 4:17, Paul talks about the temporary nature of our struggles in the context of eternity: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” When we fix our eyes on the eternal, our earthly troubles pale in comparison.

 

Secular optimism: You can be who you really are.

Christian optimism: You have been set free from sin to find your identity in Christ.

From a Christian perspective, the problem is that far too many of us are already being who we “really are” – slaves to the sinful desires of our flesh (Romans 7:14-24). When we have the Spirit within us, however, we are free to find a new identity in Christ. Paul explained this in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

 

Secular encouragement: You can do it.

Christian encouragement: With God, anything is possible.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you just might not be able to do “it,” whatever it is. The Bible is all about God doing “it” through humans who could never do it themselves. Think of Moses talking to Pharaoh despite his trepidation, little David fighting a giant Goliath and Daniel surviving the lion’s den. God has accomplished history in spite of our abilities. With Him, however, all things are possible.

 

A meme of Christian encouragement would look pretty different than the original…

When you need encouragement, remember:

God works all things together for good.

You can pray for your deepest needs and desires.

You are invited to do great things for God’s kingdom.

Your eternal life has already begun!

Your earthly troubles pale in comparison to eternal glory.

You have been set free from sin to find your identity in Christ.

With God, anything is possible. 

65 Apologetics Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer

by   at Christian Mom Thoughts–  Comments

65 Apologetics Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer

In prior posts, I’ve talked about why parents have to care about apologetics (the reasoned defense of Christianity) and I’ve shared resources for getting started with apologetics. I realize, however, that it can seem pretty ambiguous to have a goal of “learning apologetics.” We need to know the specific questions we most need to study and discuss with our kids; the ones that non-believers most frequently challenge Christians on and the ones that most frequently turn young adults away from faith after spending 18 years in church.

That’s the purpose of this post.

I want to give you a very specific list of 65 apologetics questions every Christian parent needs to learn to answer and discuss with their kids (in age appropriate ways). Of course, any such list is subjective. I created this list based on my own study and experience with engaging in these topics, with a special emphasis on the issues challenging young adults today.

You may not think I’ve narrowed it down much by giving you 65, but there are hundreds of questions that could have been listed! In case this looks overwhelming, I’ve highlighted in red my “top 20.” Start with those if you’re new to these topics.

I encourage you to take some time and challenge yourself here. Read each question and give yourself a “point” for each one you feel you could thoroughly answer. What would your score be if you had to answer these questions today?

 Interested parent should go to 

http://christianmomthoughts.com/65-apologetics-questions-every-christian-parent-needs-to-learn-to-answer/

Getting Started with Apologetics

by Natasha Crain at Christian Mom’s Thoughts

http://christianmomthoughts.com/getting-started-with-apologetics-how-to-learn-to-defend-your-faith/

Getting Started with Apologetics

In my last post, I explained what apologetics is and why you absolutely have to care as a Christian parent today. As promised, this is a follow up post to help you get started learning how to defend your faith. Without further ado, here are seven things you can do.

1.    Get to know who the leading apologists are and read their books.

Of course you’re not going to read every book by every leading apologist when you’re just getting started. But a great first step is to familiarize yourself with the big names in apologetics so you can look into what those authors have written. I’ve highlighted some below. To get a feel for what they write, look at their books on Amazon. Click on the titles and check out the table of contents. If you do this for several authors below and their books, you’ll quickly gain an overview of the major topics apologists address (and identify a few books for your reading list!).

This is far from an exhaustive list. I’m highlighting the authors I feel offer the best starting point for people new to apologetics.

  • J. Warner Wallace: Wallace is a homicide detective and the author of Cold Case Christianity, which I recommended here as the best of the 42 books I read in the last year. It is an excellent starting point for understanding the nature of apologetics and I can’t recommend it highly enough. (On a side note, I had the great opportunity to guest post on his blog recently. Check out “Preparing Kids to Encounter Atheism Online” if you missed it.)Here is his website, where he blogs daily.
  • William Lane Craig: Craig is perhaps the best known apologist and has written many books. I read his “master” book, Reasonable Faith, this year. This was a fantastic and verydetailed survey of key apologetics topics. I wouldn’t recommend diving straight into it if you’re new to apologetics (but absolutely would if you’ve done some preliminary reading!). He has several other books, however, that are more concise in nature. Here is his Amazon author page and here is his website (which contains extensive writings).
  • Lee Strobel: Strobel is a former atheist and journalist who has written several investigative-style books, such as the Case for Christ, the Case for Faith and the Case for the Creator. His books are written at the “popular” level and are a good introduction.Here is his Amazon author page and here is his Twitter account(his Facebook page isn’t active).
  • Hank Hanegraff: Hanegraff is a radio host known as the “Bible Answer Man” and the author of many books. I read his book, “Has God Spoken? Proof of the Bible’s Divine Inspiration,” this year and would recommend it highly. Here is his Amazon author page and here is his website.

Other key apologists to look for include Paul CopanRavi Zacharias,J.P. MorelandNorman GeislerJosh McDowellSean McDowell, N.T. Wright, and C.S. Lewis.

2.    Become a fan of Facebook pages providing apologetics resources.

This is a little like throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. It’s not a very organized or methodical way of learning, but it can give you a good idea of the scope of what apologetics covers when you see the links posted to various articles/resources (there are many questions addressed by apologetics that you may never have even realized are important).

Aside from the Facebook pages of the authors I just listed, here are some great ones to check out.

If you’re specifically interested in the apologetics of Genesis/origins/science, check out these pages representing varied views:

3.    Pick a topic that interests you and find books and articles to study on that topic.

You may have some apologetics-related questions in mind that you would really like answers to. For example, maybe you’re especially bothered by the problem of evil, the existence of hell, the reliability of the Bible or issues of faith and science. Instead of focusing on surveys of apologetics topics (as in the first two points), start with your topic of interest and go deep. (Deep doesn’t mean reading random people’s responses to a Yahoo question about why God allows evil. Search for credible authors on Amazon. Read a full-length treatment of the topic.)

4.    Get an Apologetics Study Bible.

Yes, there is actually an Apologetics Study Bible! Check it out here.

5.    Watch videos.

I’m not personally big on videos, so I don’t have much to recommend here. That said, several of the organizations and people already listed produce videos with answers to common questions, interviews and debates. Also check out the One Minute Apologist.

6.    Read books and articles written by non-believers.

I know this might sound counterintuitive, but I’ve grown an enormous amount in my faith and knowledge of apologetics by reading the writings of atheists. Think about the preparation for a football game. Even if you know your own team inside and out, if you only focus on what you’re doing and saying, you’re missing half the picture. You can study how to throw the ball in the best possible way, but if you don’t know how the other team will respond, it weakens your position significantly. When you study a topic, Google that topic specifically to find writings on it by atheists. There are thousands of atheist blogs for your “research.”

7.    Get an apologetics certificate!

Well, this one is a bit random on a list of starting points, but I had to mention it because I just discovered it this week. Biola University offers a distance learning apologetics certificate that you can earn by watching a year’s worth of lectures (Biola is a leading apologetics university). I emailed them today for more information – Bryan and I are thinking of doing it together this year!

Were these resources helpful to you? I’d love to hear what you find that helps you the most. If you have other resources to share, please do!

 

What Is Apologetics and Why Should You Care?

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What is Apologetics?This weekend, my in-laws had our three kids for an overnight, giving us a much needed break. They picked the kids up around noon on Saturday. My husband and I proceeded to spend the entire rest of the day on the couch, alternating between napping and reading.

Napping and reading!

We are so exhausted that it’s all we could fathom doing on a cherished day free from parenting responsibility.

If you read my blog, you’re probably a parent. If you’re a parent, you’re probably exhausted like we are. I do not take it lightly that I’m going to suggest in this post you need to add more to your job description. But if you care about your kids’ spiritual development (as I know you do!), you have to hear me out.

You need to learn apologetics and be ready to train your children with that knowledge.

 

What is Apologetics?

An apologetic is a reasoned defense for a belief. Christian apologetics is the defense of why we as Christians believe what we do. The biblical basis for this is 1 Peter 3:15:

“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, 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.”

Apologetics addresses questions like:

  • What evidence is there for God outside the Bible?
  • How do we know the Gospels are really eye-witness accounts?
  • Was Jesus really God?
  • If God is real, why is there so much evil in the world?
  • Hasn’t evolution disproven God?

Take a moment and consider if you can honestly answer this sample of questions right now. These questions barely scratch the surface of what you need to be able to address with your kids in today’s world.

 

Why Every Christian Parent Needs to Care

It’s widely known that at least two-thirds of young adults who grew up in Christian families are turning away from Christianity today.Almost all spiritual leaders agree that training kids with a foundation in apologetics is one of the most important things parents and churches should be doing to address this alarming trend.

You can probably see immediately why, in an increasingly secular world, your kids need robust answers to the tough questions of faith. Apologetics provides those answers. Instead of expanding further on the seemingly obvious, however, I’d like to give you a unique look at why apologetics is so necessary, using a consumer decision-making model that marketers have used for more than one hundred years (I’m in marketing professionally). I believe it has a lot to teach us about spiritual decision making and the role of apologetics. If that sounds complicated, don’t worry – it’s not.

The following funnel represents the psychological steps behind a person’s purchase decisions. We’re going to look at how these same steps can apply to spiritual decisions.

Spiritual Decision Making Funnel

Awareness

At this stage, a child is learning basic facts about spiritual beliefsand subconsciously assigning importance to those facts.  For example, the most basic facts might include things like God is good, God loves me, Jesus died for me, the Bible is important, and I should behave in a way that pleases God. If your kids lived in a forest with no external influences, you could closely guard their understanding of these Christian beliefs and the importance they should have. But awareness is highly impacted by external factors that add other “facts” and change the relative importance of all those “facts.”

One in four Americans under 30 describe their beliefs as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” The spiritual environment in which our kids are growing up is fundamentally changing theAwareness step in the spiritual decision-making process – frequently adding conflicting “facts” to our kids’ awareness, and often decreasing the relative importance of the things they learn from us. Visually, that change looks something like this:

Spiritual Awareness

 

Learning apologetics directly helps our kids critically evaluate the “facts” that enter their awareness so they can determine with confidence what is relevant and what is important. Without such an understanding, the sheer volume of information they are being faced with today easily leads to spiritual confusion and indecisiveness.

 

Interest

It should come as no surprise that the more confusion that resides in the Awareness stage, the less interested many people are in sorting it out. It becomes the equivalent of throwing your hands in the air and saying, “there’s just no way of knowing.” Given that large numbers of people now claim to believe in “nothing in particular,” the statistics bear this out.

Learning apologetics gives our kids tools to know they can sort out competing information in intellectually and spiritually meaningful ways; it naturally increases interest in searching for truth when a person believes there are meaningful answers available. Without developing interest at this stage, a person clearly won’t continue the path to commitment to Christ.

 

Consideration

Once people are aware of something and have gained an interest in it, they enter a Consideration stage where they compare the relative merits of it versus other options. Whereas in the Awareness stage, people are more like subconscious “fact collectors and sifters,” in Consideration they are active evaluators who are looking for solutions to problems. People often compare alternatives using mental rules such as what works the best, what they like the best, what they’ve used the most, what important people use, and what costs the least.

Apologetics, at its core, directs people toward making spiritual decisions based on what is true. We can’t make the right choice amongst competing alternatives unless we have the right measuring stick. Apologetics gives kids the right measuring stick – what is true – and gives them the tools for actually doing the measuring. The large number of competing worldviews today makes apologetics absolutely critical at this step.

 

Intent

You might think that once you are aware of something, interested in it, and consider it amongst other options (i.e., the prior three stages), you would be ready to make a decision. This is overwhelmingly not how our mental process works, however. Our intentions to actually make a decision/commitment to something often change over time, due to new information entering our awareness or because of life events that cause us to question what we thought we knew. It can cause a loop where we cycle back to the Awareness stage and start again down the path to making a decision.

Marketing research has shown that the strength of intention to proceed to commitment directly relates to the strength of underlying beliefs from the Awareness stage. Given how much apologetics strengthens the Awareness stage, it is clear that it later influences Intent as well.

 

Decision (the goal!)

Making a decision for Christ is obviously not the same as making a decision about buying a car. But the psychology behind the steps in our decision making processes have a clear relationship with spiritual decision making. At each step here, apologetics is a key lever for influencing our kids’ ultimate decisions for the Lord. We can’t just ignore that because it seems too time consuming or too difficult to learn. It’s too important. God doesn’t need defending, but our kids need help understanding.

In my next post, I’ll give several ideas for how you can get started with apologetics!

I’d love to hear if you’ve studied apologetics – if so, what questions led you to it? If not, what are your barriers to doing so?

Contact her at

http://christianmomthoughts.com/what-is-apologetics-and-why-should-you-care/