Recently as I walked in the front door from work, my 5-year-old daughter Anna met me breathless and excited. She’d just watched a history video that my BreakPoint colleague Eric Metaxas had worked on.
"Daddy! Daddy!” she said. “We watched something with Eric My Taxi in it!” I’ve notified Eric that henceforth he shall ever be known as such.
As funny as children can be, they can also be very thoughtful. A few days earlier, my 7-year-old daughter Abigail asked my wife a question that has tied theologians in knots for centuries: If God knew Adam and Eve were going to sin, why did He create them in the first place?
I can tell you that Sarah and I weren’t laughing then! In fact, Abigail’s question sparked an intense and prolonged theological discussion both in our house and on my Facebook page.
Now my intent in this commentary isn’t to tackle that question, though there are good answers, but to think through what to do with young people’s tough questions and sincere doubts about the faith — which they will have, guaranteed.
It’s important that young people learn how to question well. There’s a difference between mockers of truth and seekers of truth. We want the latter, not the former.
So, we must never, ever give kids the impression that questioning itself is a sin. The Book of Psalms, after all, is full of David’s doubts and questions for God. And if families, churches and Sunday schools don’t help the next generation field these significant questions, others will, whether on TV or the Internet — not to mention at school.
Asking tough questions, in fact, is a sign that God made us in His image and likeness. He has built us this way. We’re expected not only to know truth but to discover it, and to be independent thinkers in the best sense. As Proverbs 25:2 says, “It’s the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.”
So the next time a kid asks one of those tough questions, don’t duck! Encourage the question. It’s always better for young people to ask questions where they can find accurate, biblically-informed answers. If we don’t allow for good questions today, they’ll get the answers from Google or a secular humanist professor tomorrow.
And part of taking a question seriously is admitting when we don’t know the answer. What we should say then is “I don’t know, but let’s find out together.” This posture of humility not only gives an opportunity to journey with a child to the truth, but the opportunity for us to learn something new.
If we pretend we’ve got all the answers, or that Christian faith is somehow nice and simple, they’ll either see right through it, or will embrace answers that will leave them vulnerable in the future. Even worse, they may pick up the wrong impression that Christianity cannot play with the intellectual “big boys.” As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “It is no good asking for simple religion. After all, real things are not simple.”
We should also point them to some really great resources that are already out there. I love the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, to which I contributed several articles — including one on Abigail’s question. And, my friend Eric My Taxi — I mean, Metaxas! — wrote a great book called Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (But Were Afraid to Ask)!
We’ve got a short list of key apologetics resources and links available on our website. You can pick them up in our online book store at BreakPoint.org.
Yes, kids say the funniest things, but if we don’t take their questions seriously, the joke will be on all of us.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: March 14, 2013