My kids don't know if the Bible is true!

November 22, 2022

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In this podcast episode, Elizabeth Urbanowicz helps parents guide their kids who don't believe in the Bible. If you're a parent in this situation, you may be wondering where these ideas are coming from and whether this skepticism is healthy, intellectual, or rebellious. How should the kids in your care feel after your conversation with them? What is a reasonable amount of evidence that parents need to provide their children that the Bible is true? By the end of the episode, you'll
be equipped with the tools you need to help your kids articulate their questions, and understand your point of view, without sacrificing the relationship.


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello, friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast, where we seek to equip you to get the kids that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter so they can understand the truth of the biblical worldview.

I'm your host Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast today.

Now, our question for today says, "What do I do if my kids do not agree/believe that the Bible is reliable and true?" Now, this is a great question, because I know that many of you listening, especially if you're working with younger kids, you're probably working with many kids who just take your word at face value and just trust the Bible's true simply because you say it's true. And then there's others of you who may be working with kids who are just naturally very skeptical and just don't believe that the Bible's true, no matter how much you say that it is. Or you might be working with adolescents or teens who are just a lot more inquisitive and a lot more skeptical.

Now, having a healthy level of skepticism is not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, carefully evaluating the ideas that we encounter is something that is biblical. We're commanded in many places in Scripture to take our thoughts captive, to be renewed in our minds. In the Book of Acts, the Bereans were praised for listening to what the Apostles said and then carefully evaluating did it align with Scripture?

So having a skeptical child is not necessarily a bad thing. It can actually be a really healthy thing for them.

And so the first thing that I would recommend is asking good questions and then genuinely listening. And I would recommend this for two reasons. First, if we want to help address our kids' doubts and uncertainties, we have to actually understand them. We have to actually understand where are these coming from? What are they believing? Why are they believing it? Why do they think this is true? Do they actually have reasons for this? Is this more of just an emotional thing? Is this a relational thing? Is this just a rebellion thing? Is this an actual intellectual doubt or question? We really need to understand where are they coming from so that we know how to move forward.

And the second reason that I recommend that is because we want to make sure that the kids in our care really feel heard, because feeling heard is so closely aligned with feeling loved. And we want to make sure that these kids that God has placed in our care know that they're loved and that they're valued, because if they don't feel heard, if they just say, "I don't believe the Bible's true anyway," or if they're just like, "Well, why do we think that the Bible's true?," and we just go into some long explanation without ever really listening to them and finding out where this is coming from, most likely, they'll just dig in their heels, even if we have really great reasoning.

I saw this several years ago with a friend of mine. And she was just struggling with one doctrine in the Christian faith, and she just wasn't believing that it was true. And everyone who she talked to, rather than really seeking to listen to her and to hear her, they would just go off into an explanation of why what she was believing was not biblical. Now, I understand why people were doing this, because it was people who loved her and cared for her and didn't want her to believe a false belief.

Now, when she came to visit me one week and she shared this with me, what she was believing, as her friend, it did concern me, because she was believing something that didn't align with Scripture. But rather than just dive into an explanation of why I thought that was wrong, I just asked her lots of questions and I listened and I tried to dive down deep into why is she really believing this? Why is she really thinking this?

And as I asked more questions and dove in deeper, it became clear that it wasn't so much that she was believing this thing that was not true, but that she had had a really painful and difficult experience with someone who was in church leadership, someone who really should have cared for her and shepherded her well. But instead of doing that, this person had really mistreated her and she was very hurt and wounded from that. So I knew that in the moment no amount of intellectual reasoning was going to help her change her belief, because her belief wasn't so much rooted intellectually. It was very much rooted emotionally.

And so I knew that it was going to take some time of me continuing to be a good friend, of me continuing to love her, of asking her good questions, to then eventually be able to bring up, "This thing you're believing, have you ever considered this passage of Scripture," or, "Have you ever considered that your interaction with this person is what's caused this belief?"

And that first day when she shared that belief with me and I just asked her questions, afterwards she actually thanked me and she said, "I know you don't agree with me, but thank you for not trying to talk me out of it. Thank you for just listening to me." She said, "I don't feel like anybody else has really tried to listen to me or understand this."

And now, it was actually a several year long process before my friend eventually came to a place where she was then holding a biblical belief about this topic. But the way that she got there was not through me constantly hammering her with the truth, but me listening, asking questions, seeking to understand her, and then pointing her toward the truth.

So when we're thinking about the kids that God has placed in our care, some good questions that we could ask them is, "That's an interesting thought. How long have you wondered whether or not the Bible is true?," so that we can find out is this just a recent belief? Is this something that they just heard something on TikTok or YouTube or from a friend or that they read something and this has been a question that they've had for a few days, a few weeks, a few months? Is this something they've thought for the past several years? Just so that we get some context of how long have they wondered whether or not the Bible's true.

And then asking some follow up questions. And then if we really want to know, okay, why are they believing this, asking, "What makes you think that we can't trust the Bible? What reasons?" And then it's very natural for us when we're scared, when our children are suddenly not believing the things that we know to be true, we can want to change things really quickly. But we want to keep that relationship so that we're not just shutting down a false idea right away, but that we're actually making sure that they eventually understand why this idea isn't true.

So not just asking questions to try to trap them, but to really seek to understand them, "What makes you think we can't trust the Bible?" And then if they have some legitimate questions, saying, "I'm really impressed that you thought of that. That's a great question. Have you ever thought through has anybody else wondered that?," because especially if we're working with kids who are 11 on up, they tend to think that they know everything and that they've had this question or doubt about Christianity that no one has ever thought of before, where it's like pretty much every thought we've ever had fly through our minds at some point, somebody else has wrestled with that as well.

So to get them thinking, "Do you think anybody else has ever wondered that? Where are you looking to find answers? Where can we look together?"

Then another question is, especially if we have a child who's really deep in this belief that the Bible isn't true, asking them, "What evidence would convince you that the Bible is true?," because that's a really helpful question to have answered. What is the standard for belief here? Because sometimes, they might say something that's legitimate, "If I could have some evidence outside of the Bible that the things in the Bible really happened, then I would believe that's true." Then we could look into archeology. We could look into other ancient documents.

But other times, they might have a standard of belief that is just completely ridiculous. I experienced this several years ago in this ministry that my church ran. My church in Chicago, we would meet every other Saturday at a Barnes and Noble to meet up with skeptics and just have conversations about the deeper things in life so that we could help them see the inconsistencies in their worldview. And there was one man there who was very, very hostile towards the Christian worldview, and he was constantly just saying things that weren't true and weren't rational about Christianity.

And I was always responding by giving him evidence. I would respond to one of his questions, then he would go to another one. And then I'd respond to one of his questions, and then he'd go to another one. And eventually, one day we were having this conversation where I was like, "Christianity hangs on The Resurrection. If Jesus actually rose from the grave, you really need to take seriously the claims of Christianity. If Jesus did not rise from the grave, I'm wasting my time," as is every other Christian.

And so we were talking about The Resurrection, and we actually talked about it for several weeks. And then one day I was like, "You know what? He's not taking seriously anything I say. So I need to figure out what is his threshold of this is what would be appropriate evidence." So eventually, I asked him. I said, "What would you consider sufficient evidence for believing that The Resurrection is the most plausible theory of what happened to Jesus?"

And then he goes into this long explanation. He says, "A team of medical doctors examining the body for 48 hours and having it hooked up to heart monitors and brain scans, and then could declaring him medically dead, and then having other doctors watch the body." And he went into this. And actually, my reaction actually wasn't the best. I actually laughed out loud, which I should not have. I should not have done that.

But I just all of a sudden was like, "Oh, this is why our conversations aren't working. This is a ridiculous threshold of proving that something is true. We could never for anything in antiquity hold that as the standard of our evidence." And I said that to him. But it was so helpful for me to understand that that was his threshold, what he would need to believe it was true, because it made me realize that any conversations were really going to be fruitless, that I needed to demonstrate to him that I was intellectually honest with myself, that I did have honest beliefs, but that I was also living out what it meant to be a Christian, because no amount of arguing with him about The Resurrection is going to change his mind.

And so we need to think through this with our children. What is their threshold for believing that something is true? Now, I was talking with a man who was not a close friend, but just an acquaintance, where if you're talking with a child, then you can follow up with questions like, "Okay. So you're saying you would actually need to hear God audibly tell you that the Bible is true for you to believe it's true. That's interesting."

So do we do that with anything else in all of life? If we wanted to believe that grapes were on sale at the grocery store, would God need to audibly tell us that? What would we need to do? We'd need to evaluate the evidence. We'd look at the flyer that got mailed to us. We'd actually go to the grocery store, where we can't go and examine Jesus' grave. That's not how we can examine history, because we don't know where it is. But what other things are we doing? We're looking at the eyewitness testimony. We're looking at what are other plausible theories. So we actually help our kids to think through, "Okay, what is a reasonable threshold of evidence?"

And then another question would be, "What are some specific questions that you would like to find answers to? What are things that we can look up together, questions that you have about the Bible that we can go on this journey together? Because you asked some great questions already. So let's think through some more questions that can help us on this journey."

And then when we've asked these questions and dug a little deeper and understood where our children are coming from, we need to make sure that we're recognizing the root issue. Is this actually an intellectual issue, that they're not sure that the evidence is sufficient for pointing to the truth of the Bible? Is this an emotional, rebellious issue, that they're angry about some rule that comes along with Christianity and they don't want Christianity to be true? So they're just having this emotional, rebellious kind of doubt that really no amount of intellectual answers are going to satisfy, that we need to ask God to soften their hearts, "God, my child has a hard heart. He doesn't want to believe that the Bible is true, because he doesn't like your commands. Please soften his heart. Please soften her heart, Lord," where that's what we need to do with that rebellious, willful doubt.

And then other times, it might be relational, that they've been hurt by someone, like the example that I gave you before with my friend who had been hurt by that church leader. Maybe your children have been hurt by someone in the church. Maybe they've been hurt by you. Maybe they've been hurt by another adult in their life who claimed the name of Christ and then lived very differently. And if that's the case, we need to address that relational hurt. If it's between us and them, we need to confess of our sin, to repent before them, to restore that relationship. If it's between someone else and the church, if it's appropriate, we can help facilitate reconciliation there. If it's not appropriate, we can grieve with them over what happened and talk about, "Yeah, that that's terrible. That person should not have done that. The person should not have said that. Who are some people in your life who you do see faithfully living for Jesus?"

So if it's an intellectual doubt, we're going to handle it with intellectual answers. If it's more based on emotion and willful rebellion, we're going to ask God to soften their heart and continue to love them. If it's a relational issue, we're going to seek reconciliation. We're going to seek to point them towards the truth.

It's so important in situations like this that we remember that parenting is a marathon. It's not a sprint. When your children come to you with doubts or with questions or with uncertainties, the easiest thing to do is try to just squash it right there so you can move on in peace. But that's not really the way to deal with it in a healthy way that's going to help build a solid foundation in understanding the truth of Scripture.

So we need to remember, okay, that this is a marathon. This might not be taken care of today. It might not be taken care of tomorrow or even next week or next month, but we can continue to build relationship, to listen well, to ask good questions, to point them to the truth, so that on this marathon of their spiritual development, that we're laying this solid foundation for them.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that God would richly bless you as you continue to intentionally disciple the children that He's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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