The case for modern Christian parents to pass down their faith
A new survey from the Pew Research Center has found that parents passing on their faith to their children “is not highly prioritized by U.S. adults.”
The survey discovered that “fewer than half of parents place a lot of importance on their children sharing their religious and political beliefs.” Just 35% of parents said that it was “extremely” or “very important” to pass on their religious beliefs to their children.
If we look across the scope of Western society, honestly this finding is not all that shocking.
Religious and moral relativism has seeped into modern civilization and left a theological mess in its wake. Many individuals no longer care about finding the truth — only about living according to what they think is true for them. Young adults have especially bought this lie.
Christian Smith, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society, said this in his book Souls in Transition:
Very many emerging adults simply don’t know how to think about things, what is right, what is deserving for them to devote their lives to. On such matters, they are often simply paralyzed … The world they have inherited, as best they can make sense of it, has told them that real knowledge is impossible and genuine values are illusions.
Coinciding with this faulty philosophy is the idea that faith is opposed to reason. The two are like oil and water — they cannot mix. Most, if not all, secular individuals have bought this lie, and Christians have as well.
As an example, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker has incorrectly defined faith in this way:
“Universities are about reason, pure and simple. Faith — believing something without good reasons to do so — has no place in anything but a religious institution, and our society has no shortage of these.”
In other words, Pinker is saying that you can have good reasons to believe something, or you can have faith, but not both.
However, this isn’t close to true.
A much better definition of faith is provided by Jonathan Morrow, in his book Questioning the Bible. He writes, “Faith is active trust in what you have good reason to believe is true.”
In fact, Jesus Himself often used His intellect to teach; He demanded people have faith in him precisely because they had good reasons to do so.
This may be news to Professor Pinker, but Christians are called to use our intellect to support our faith. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “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” (ESV).
While some may assert that modern science has disproven the need for God, historically this is a novel perspective.
Consider the great number of scientists and philosophers down through the ages who also happened to be Christians. These were people of faith, and they were also people of reason and science.
Gregor Mendel, the “Founder of modern genetics,” was also an Augustinian Friar. Or how about Blaise Pascal, Galileo Galilei, or Robert Boyle, the latter of whom was the “Founder of Modern Chemistry.” He was also a devout Anglican.
If you look through the lens of history, the idea that faith is opposed to reason and science doesn’t hold a drop of water.
In 2020, Jon Steingard, former lead singer for the Christian band Hawk Nelson, announced that he had left Christianity. Steingard’s announcement came after two other high-profile individuals left the faith: Joshua Harris and Hillsong United songwriter Marty Sampson.
For both Steingard and Sampson, while they were experts at leading and engaging in emotional “Christian worship music,” they lacked intellectual curiosity in their faith. They were likely never provided with good and substantial reasons to believe that the historical realities that Christianity is centered around (the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ) are objectively true.
This is important to understand. When poorly catechized Christians encounter hard questions or crises, and the emotional experience that many worship services create wears off, they’ll be left with no reason to keep their faith.
In "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Han Solo tells Rey and Finn that everything they have heard about “the Force” is true. “It’s true. The Force. The Jedi. All of it,” Solo says. “It’s all true.”
While the story of Star Wars is, in my humble opinion, a great tale, the same goes for what is undoubtedly the greatest story ever told — the Christian story.
It’s true. All of it.
And because it’s true, parents must teach their children the Gospel and pass down their Christian faith to their children.
Zachary Mettler is a staff writer and communications liaison for The Daily Citizen at Focus on the Family. In his role, he writes about current political issues, U.S. history, political philosophy, and culture. Mettler has been featured in The Daily Signal, Life News, The Colorado Independent, and The Millennial Review. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, hiking, backpacking, and walking his dog. Find his writing at: https://dailycitizen.focusonthefamily.com