“Oh, Mama,” said my then four-year-old son joyfully, “I love Jesus, and you love Jesus, and … oh, everyone loves Jesus!”
Ever have a similarly sweet-yet-challenging parenting moment?
“Well, Jed,” I explained, “Umm … not everyone loves Jesus.”
Eyes wide and hands on hips, Jed demanded, “Who doesn’t love Jesus?” I figured my preschooler needed a simple, concrete example.
“You know Mikey across the street? I don’t think his parents have ever told him about … hold on, Jed, wait! Come back!”
I’m not sure how Jed planned to set Mikey straight, but I thought we’d better have some conversations first about sharing the gospel!
Jed and his brothers were developing their theology. As they matured, they learned the art of apologetics as well.
Your family is in the same process.
Apologetics is not about apologizing (although that’s also a critical habit which every Christian parent needs to learn).
According to Meriam-Webster’s dictionary, apologetics is:
“a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.”
Let’s back up one more step and define theology:
“the study of God, his divine attributes, and of his relation to the world.”
Apologetics, a branch of a broader field of study called theology, focuses on crafting and articulating a defense of the Christian faith.
Apologetics is a discipline for every Christian, not just theology nerds.
Actually, whether or not you’re aware of it, you ascribe to a particular theology. Whatever you believe and understand about God is the theology you embrace.
The more you know the Bible, the more accurate your theology is, because the Bible is the Holy-Spirit inspired Word of God, and its purpose is to reveal God to us.
The more solid your theology is, the better you’ll be able to do what the apostle Peter tells us to do:
“Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” — I Peter 3:14b-15
Peter tells us we need to exercise our minds and be ready to articulate why it makes sense to place one’s faith in Christ.
He’s saying we need to learn the art of apologetics.
Oh, great, you may be thinking. I’m not exactly a brilliant scholar or scientist or lawyer. How am I supposed to answer tough questions about stuff like the reasons for God’s existence?
Not to worry — you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. All you have to do is commit yourself to learning, and then grab some great resources to help you have significant conversations with your kids about God stuff.
Here’s one of my favorite new resources: Talking with your Kids about God by Natasha Crain.
At the end of each chapter, this author summarizes key points and offers a conversation guide complete with good questions.
This is just one of many good resources available to you.
Your job is not to be someone you’re not; it’s to inform yourself continually, and then pass on what you learn to your children.
Stay in the Word of God — as in, go there every day. Listen to podcasts or radio shows on worldview and apologetics like breakpoint.org. Read books that sharpen your thinking skills about the logical and historical veracity of Christianity.
Bedtime Bible stories and mealtime prayers are great, but your children need far more spiritual ammunition than that. Teach them to explain the hope they have as Christians.
Equip yourself –and them– to stand strong in the faith.
What’s the next resource you plan to get?