Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Raising Kids in a Post-Modern World

She burst through the door, jubilant. "Mom, you'll never guess what happened in my photography class!" My oldest daughter was taking a summer class with a sweet friend of mine last year. We've told the kids for years that once they got to college, they were going to meet with all kinds of ridiculum--but we certainly didn't expect it in a photography class.

The prof had been going through submissions from the students and critiquing each one. Our friend's photo came up, and it had a scripture written across it as its caption. "This photo is great, but the caption should be something different. It would be better if it looked like this." And his version was the same beautiful little girl but with the inane "Are we having fun yet?" imprinted across it.

Up goes my daughter's hand. "Excuse me, but if the author of the photograph wants a scripture on it, what is wrong with that?"

Prof: "The problem is that it offers a solution. We shouldn't do that. We should be asking questions."

Undaunted, my daughter's hand goes up again. "Excuse me, but do you really think people are lying in bed at night thinking, 'Gee, I wish I had more questions,'?"

Bingo. The problem of the post-modern world is its refusal to offer answers. And my then 16 year old daughter nailed it--in class. Raising children in a post-modern world means preparing them to offer the answer when others are only asking questions. It means training them to understand that they have the Truth, that the Truth is absolute, that not believing the Truth absolves no one from guilt in the eyes of the Creator.

Statistics say that 80% of kids raised in the church will lose their faith when they leave home. (Okay, I know "lose their faith" is doctrinally problematic, but the perseverance of the saints is another blogpost. Work with me, people.) What kinds of things are our children encountering out there that are snagging them?

You've seen the bumper sticker. It sends my 15 year old into orbit every time. Why? Probably because kids are amazingly adept at spotting inconsistencies. (Why we lose the ability to think critically when we reach adulthood is beyond me.) The main idea behind this thought is: There are many ways to God. And God answers to many names. Pick the name and the way that works for you.

The problem with this line of thinking is a logic problem. Each religion claims to be the right way. But they can't all be the right way, then, can they? The Law of Non-Contradiction says that a proposition cannot be both true and false at the same time. So, it is not possible that a religion that claims "Jesus is the only way to God" and a religion that claims "Jesus is not the only way to God" can both be valid. In formal logic, we would plot those two statements on the Square of Opposition. One is a universal affirmative; the other is a universal negative. They have a relationship called Contrariety, which is just a fancy way of saying that they can both be false, BUT they cannot both be true.

If life were a pantry, emergents would be the fruit loops. Like most post-moderns, they are hard to nail down on what they do believe, but they sure know what they don't believe.
1. Original sin: We inherited our nature from Adam. Man is totally depraved and dead in his sin. There is no way to please God...
...unless you are emergent. In which case, you believe Jesus loves you because you are interesting. But God says our righteousness is like filthy rags; the Apostle Paul says he is the Chief of Sinners. I'm fairly sure that God is repulsed by our sin and most definitely does NOT find us interesting. He finds us in need of mercy...
...which brings us to the next doctrine:
2. Substitutionary Atonement: Because man is dead in his sin and is unable to help himself, and God cannot live in the presence of sin, He had to send a substitution to die for us, to pay the penalty of our crimes...
...unless you are emergent. In which case, you believe that the Cross is 'cosmic child abuse.' Of course, if I think Jesus finds me interesting, then the Cross does appear to be a rather brutal, bloody, over-the-top, attention-grabbing stunt. At least they are consistent. Unfortunately, the whole movement un-Scriptural. I wonder if emergents find that interesting. (Are you listening, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Donald Miller?)

What do we do to ensure our children are as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves?

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