Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

William Lane Craig discusses reason and faith with university students

This is an interview of Dr. William Lane Craig before college students at the University of Central Florida. (95 minutes)

You can get an MP3 of the lecture here. (33 MB)

Questions from the interviewer: (40 minutes)

  • What started you on his journey of studying faith and reason?
  • How would you define the word “faith”?
  • Are faith and reason compatible? How are they related?
  • How can reasonable faith help us to avoid the two extremes of superstition and nihilism?
  • Who makes the best arguments against the Christian faith?
  • Why are angry atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens more well known than better-informed academic atheists?
  • Does the Bible require Christians to give the unbeliever reasons for their faith?
  • How does faith spur Christians to think carefully about the big questions in life?
  • Should the American church prod churchgoers to develop their minds so they can engage the secular culture?
  • When talking about Christianity intellectually, is there a risk of neglecting the experience of being a Christian?
  • Which Christian apologist has shaped your thinking the most?
  • Which Christian philosopher has shaped your thinking the most?
  • Does the confidence that comes from apologetics undermine humility and reverence?
  • If you had to sketch out a 5 minute case for Christianity, what would you present?
  • Can non-Christians use their reason to arrive at truth?
  • Are there cases where atheists must affirm irrational things in order to remain atheists?
  • Can the universe have existed eternal, so that there is no need to explain who created it?
  • Even if you persuade someone that Christianity is true, does that mean they will live it out?

There is also a long period of questions, many of them hostile, from the audience of students (55 minutes).

  • Haven’t you said nasty things about some atheists? Aren’t you a meany?
  • What do you make of the presuppositional approach to apologetics?
  • Can a person stop being a Christian because of the chances that happen to them as they age?
  • Why did God wait so long after humans appeared to reveal himself to people through Jesus?
  • Can a person be saved by faith without have any intellectual assent to truth?
  • How do you find time for regular things like marriage when you have to study and speak so much?
  • How would you respond to Zeitgeist and parallels to Christianity in Greek/Roman mythology?
  • Do Christians have to assume that the Bible is inerrant and inspired in order to evangelize?
  • If the universe has a beginning, then why doesn’t God have a beginning?
  • Can you name some philosophical resources on abstract objects, Platonism and nominalism?
  • How can you know that Christianity more right than other religions?
  • Should we respond to the problem of evil by saying that our moral notions are different from God’s?
  • Define the A and B theories of time. Explain how they relate to the kalam cosmological argument.
  • How can Christians claim that their view is true in the face of so many world religions?
  • What is the role of emotions in Christian belief and thought?
  • Can evolution be reconciled with Christian beliefs and the Bible?
  • When witnessing person-to-person, should you balance apologetics with personal testimony?
  • Is there a good analogy for the trinity that can help people to understand it? [Note: HE HAS ONE!]
  • How can Christians reconcile God’s omniscience, God’s sovereignty and human free will?

This is a nice introductory lecture that is sure to get Christians to become interested in apologetics. As you watch or listen to it, imagine what the world would be like if every Christian could answer the questions of skeptical college students and professors like Dr. Craig. What would non-Christians think about Christianity if every Christian had studied these issues like Dr. Craig? Why aren’t we making an effort to study these things so that we can answer these questions?

It is really fun to see him fielding the questions from the skeptical university students. My favorite question was from the physics student who sounds really foreign, (at 1:19:00), then you realize that he is a Christian. I do think that Dr. Craig went a little far in accommodating evolution, but I put that down to the venue, and not wanting to get into a peripheral issue. I’m also surprised that no one asked him why God allows humans to suffer and commit acts of evil.

If you are looking for a good basic book on apologetics, then I would choose “Is God Just a Human Invention?” by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow.

Who is William Lane Craig?

About William Lane Craig:

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.

Dr. Craig pursued his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (B.A. 1971) and graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A. 1974; M.A. 1975), the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph.D. 1977), and the University of Munich (Germany) (D.Theol. 1984). From 1980-86 he taught Philosophy of Religion at Trinity… In 1987 they moved to Brussels, Belgium, where Dr. Craig pursued research at the University of Louvain until assuming his position at Talbot in 1994.

He has authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological ArgumentAssessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of JesusDivine Foreknowledge and Human FreedomTheism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of PhilosophyNew Testament StudiesJournal for the Study of the New TestamentAmerican Philosophical QuarterlyPhilosophical StudiesPhilosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science.

Craig’s CV is here.

Craig’s list of publications is here.

William Lane Craig is, without a doubt, the top living defender of Christianity. He has debated all of the most famous atheists, including Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc. as well as academic atheists like Quentin Smith, Peter Millican, etc. if you search this blog, you’ll find many debates posted here, sometimes even with snarky summaries.

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William Lane Craig’s secret weapon is his amazing wife Jan

I want to draw your attention to a talk on “Vision in Life” given by Dr. William Lane Craig. Dr. Craig is the ablest defender of the Christian faith operating today. He has done formal academic debates with all of the best known atheists on major university campuses in front of thousands of university students.

It turns out that he owes a lot of his success to his amazing wife Jan.

The MP3 file is here. (32 minutes)

This talk was Dr. Craig’s chapel address to Biola University students.

About 11 minutes into the talk, Bill describes what happened after he finished his Bachelor’s degree at Wheaton:

And so I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 2 years, and was assigned to Northern Illinois University. And that was where I met my wife Jan. She was a graduate of the University of North Dakota where she had come to faith in Christ. And she had a similar vision for her life of evangelism and discipleship.

And as we worked at NIU together, she with gals and I with the guys, leading students to Christ and discipling them to walk with the Lord, we fell in love. And we decided that we would be more effective if we joined forces and became a team.

So their reason for getting together was because they thought that they would be more effective in evangelism and discipleship if they worked as a team.

It is at this point in the talk where Bill begins to explain just how Jan molded him into the lean, mean debating machine that travels the world striking terror into the hearts of atheists.

Bill’s first story about Jan occurs early after their marriage while he is working on his first Masters degree at Trinity:

And it was also at that time that I began to see what an invaluable asset the Lord had given me in Jan. I remember I came home from classes one day, and found her at the kitchen table with all the catalogs and schedules and papers spread out in front of her and she said, “look! I’ve figured out how you can get two Masters degrees at the same time that it would normally take to get one! All you have to do is take overloads every semester, go to all full-time summer school and do all these other things, and you can do two MAs in the time it takes to do one!”

And I thought, whoa! Are you sure you really want to make the commitment it takes to do this kind of thing? And she said, “Yeah! Go for it!” And it was then I began to see that God had given me a very special woman who was my supporter – my cheerleader – and who really believed in me. And as long as she believed in me, that gave me the confidence to dream bigger dreams, and to take on challenges that I had never thought of before.

In an article on his web site, he talks about how Jan encouraged him to do his first Ph.D:

As graduation from Trinity neared, Jan and I were sitting one evening at the supper table in our little campus apartment, talking about what to do after graduation. Neither of us had any clear leading or inclination of what we should do next.

So Jan said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I replied, “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to England and do a doctorate under John Hick.”

“Who’s he?” she asked.

“Oh, he’s this famous British philosopher who’s written extensively on arguments for the existence of God,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a cosmological argument for God’s existence.”

But it hardly seemed a realistic idea.

The next evening at supper Jan handed me a slip of paper with John Hick’s address on it. “I went to the library today and found out that he’s at the University of Birmingham in England,” she said. “Why don’t you write him a letter and ask him if you can do a doctoral thesis under him on the cosmological argument?”

What a woman! So I did, and to our amazement and delight Professor Hick wrote back saying he’d be very pleased to supervise my doctoral work on that subject. So it was an open door!

And in the same article, he explains how Jan encouraged him to get his second Ph.D:

As Jan and I neared the completion of my doctoral studies in Birmingham, our future path was again unclear to us. I had sent out a number of applications for teaching positions in philosophy at American universities but had received no bites. We didn’t know what to do.

I remember it like yesterday. We were sitting at the supper table in our little house outside Birmingham, and Jan suddenly said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I laughed because I remembered how the Lord had used her question to guide us in the past. I had no trouble answering the question. “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to Germany and study under Wolfhart Pannenberg.”

“Who’s he?”

“Oh, he’s this famous German theologian who’s defended the resurrection of Christ historically,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a historical apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus.”

Our conversation drifted to other subjects, but Jan later told me that my remark had just lit a fire under her. The next day while I was at the university, she slipped away to the library and began to research grants-in-aid for study at German universities. Most of the leads proved to be defunct or otherwise inapplicable to our situation. But there were two grants she found that were possibilities. You can imagine how surprised I was when she sprung them on me!

Both of these Ph.D experiences are also described in the talk. And the talk concludes as follows:

I am so thankful to be married to a woman who is tremendously resourceful, tremendously talented and energetic, who could have pursued an independent career in any number of areas, but instead, she has chose to wed her aspirations to mine, and to make it her goal to make me the most effective person I can be, for Christ. And she has been like my right arm in ministry over these many years. And it is a tremendous privilege to be a team with a person like that.

And you young men, I would encourage you, if you marry, to find a gal who shares your vision, not some independent vision, but who is interested in aligning herself with you, and pursuing together a common vision and goal that will draw you [together], so that you will avoid the growing separateness that so often creeps into marriages.

And now you know the rest of Bill’s story. The person you marry will have an enormous influence on the impact you will have for Christ and his Kingdom. It is up to you to decide whether that influence is going to be positive or negative, by deciding if you will marry, and if you do marry, by deciding whom you will marry.

I have a popular post that has a lot of questions to ask a woman to make sure that she has the knowledge required to be a wife and mother, but I think in the context of this talk, I should highlight a few other questions that are more about her personality instead of her knowledge.

  • Does she think that the purpose of the relationship is to serve God or to serve herself?
  • Does she enjoy taking on the helper role, or does she ignore the man’s need for help?
  • Is she able provide alternatives when decisions have to be made?
  • Is she comfortable letting a man lead by letting him making decisions?
  • Is she good at being calm, persuasive and reasonable during disagreements?
  • Is she able to control her emotions, and separate facts from feelings?
  • Does she respect what her man has been able to achieve in the normal male roles? (Provider, etc.)
  • Is she the man’s “cheerleader”? Does she praise and encourage him privately and publicly?
  • Does she see her man as an engine for serving God? Does she have a plan to help him perform better?
  • Does she show her man that she is interested in teaching and mentoring others to grow?
  • Does she take an interest in growing her man spiritually? (Men are often more practical than spiritual)

You may also be interested in this talk given by William Lane Craig, entitled “Healthy Relationships” (National Faculty Leadership Conf. 2008) (audio here) In that talk, he offers advice to Christians who want to have a marriage that is consistent with their Christian faith.

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Fighter pilot discusses apologetics and Christian living in new book “One of the Few”

"One of the Few" by Jason B. Ladd

“One of the Few” by Jason B. Ladd

Here is the blurb for his new book:

Author, Marine, and Iraq War veteran Jason B. Ladd has just launched a pre-order campaign for his new book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview. He has until March 22 to reach his goal or it’s back to the drawing board. Read about him and the book below, and then check out his pre-order campaign at

http://publishizer.com/one-of-the-few

The link above has the table of contents and chapter summaries.

From the back cover:

“Unsatisfied with his secular worldview, Marine fighter pilot Jason B. Ladd shares the struggles he faced during his search for truth and a reasonable defense of the Christian faith.

His mission began with a realization: though ready to defend his country, he was unprepared for his most important missions as a husband and father. Drawing from his military experience, Ladd warn seekers about spiritual apathy and teaches Christians tactics for withstanding spiritual attacks. Birthed from a legacy of service, One of the Few speaks from the spirit of a man reborn—with the soul of a Marine, the mind of a fighter, the heart of a father, and a commitment to the Son. Join him as he uses fighter pilot fundamentals to embark on the greatest mission of all: the pursuit of truth.”

Jason B. Ladd is a Christian apologist, F/A-18 Weapons and Tactics Instructor, and Iraq War veteran. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Peace, War, and Defense from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001. Jason writes articles for FIGHTER FAITH, a website he founded to help others lead with conviction, embrace parenthood with joy, and develop a worldview capable of answering life’s biggest questions. He and his wife, Karalyn, are the parents of six children.

Here’s the aircraft that Jason flies:

F-18 Hornet configured for strike mission

F/A-18 Hornet configured for strike mission

I actually met Jason at a recent SES National Apologetics conference, and it was great fun talking to him. He has a real interest in Christian apologetics and he sees how important it is for Christians to have a defensible worldview.

If you want to see a sample of Jason’s writing, check out this post on his blog.

This is interesting:

Christianity is more than a belief system. It is a away of life. The principles derived from Scripture inform the head and guide the heart. The Christian worldview is one of the few where philosophy corresponds to the human experience with coherence and consistency.

But inevitably, events will occur which threaten to shake the foundations of our world. We lavish God with praise when his blessing fall upon us, but when tragedy strikes, praises turn into questions.

Why does there have to be suffering?

This is one of the most important question you can ask, and it’s the topic of a recent book by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale titled “Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense”.

Abiding by a spiritual code means following a perpetual pattern of study and application. Once a search for truth yields the fruit of discovery, a growing hunger for more knowledge can threaten this balance.

The study of Christian apologetics is about the desire to give answers for anyone with questions. It’s about deepening your understanding of why you believe what you believe.

Just as a scientist must leave the lab and work in the field, the apologist must recognize when to stop studying and start applying what he or she has learned.

This happened to me recently. Life threw a curveball, and the questions started coming. It was the moment for which all previous studying, thinking, praying, and contemplating was intended: to help someone cope through a time of suffering.

Zacharias writes:

“At least as important as the question of why there is suffering is the question of how we will face the pain”1

The question is not just how we will face the pain, but whether we can help others through their own pain.

 

I’ve always understood my Christian faith augmented by my study of military history and military biography. Before I started meeting lots of Christian apologists on the Internet, I thought I was the only person who viewed living out a Christian life in strategic ways, where you make decisions about what you invest in and study with a view of knowing enough about what is true to render yourself impervious to the slings and arrows that life can throw your way. It’s interesting to see how people who are trained for actual war-fighting like Jason talks about his faith and how he built it up with apologetics. So you learn apologetics first to take care of yourself, and you make other moves to protect yourself from the things that take away people’s faith.

In my case, I play defense by saving money in case something happens to my health or my job. I try not attempt things that I can’t complete, and I have a pool of resources and a network of friends to support me. Once you have this foundation, you can then turn outward and build up other Christians – protecting them from challenges to their faith and unexpected losses and suffering. Supporting them, encouraging them and connecting them to other Christians to make them more resilient.

It’s really fascinating to be a Christian and take this tactical view of your life. You find yourself constantly reading and studying and earning and saving so that you are able to withstand threats and protect others from threats. It’s a very practical view of the Christian life, it’s not passive. I find that most often it’s those with a career in law enforcement (e.g. – J. Warner Wallace) and the military (e.g. – Jason Ladd) who take this tactical approach to their faith.

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Two kinds of people who have tried to shame me away from Christianity

I recently had two interesting encounters last week, first with a secular Jewish leftist man and second with a New Age prosperity gospel feminist Christian woman. I wasn’t going to say anything about them, except that my pastor was talking this morning about how people often fall away because of the shame and scorn that is heaped on them by non-Christians. So now I’m going to say something.

So let me start with the texts he used:

2 Tim 4:1-5:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

And 1 Peter 3:15-16:

15 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,

16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Now a quick word about those. I think the real point he was trying to make – and this is what he spoke about eloquently and passionately – is that if you have orthodox theological beliefs in this day and age then you are going to be shamed, humiliated and reviled by people. And I would go further than he did and say that it is not just having an orthodox view of who Jesus is that annoys them (e.g. – deity, exclusivity of salvation, morality, etc.). No, their disapproval spreads on into politics, especially abortion and gay marriage – basically any kind of rules around sexuality. That’s what’s really bugging these people, I think.

So let’s talk about the two people.

The man who thinks that conservative Christians are stupid

The first kind of person who tried to shame me for being a Christian is the person who thinks that Christianity is stupid. This kind of person invokes things that he hears in secular leftist pop culture as if it is common knowledge that theism generally, and Christianity in particular, is false. He’s watched a documentary on the Discovery channel which said that the eternally oscillating cosmology was true. Or maybe he watched a documentary on the History Channel that said that Jesus never presented himself as God stepping into history. He presents these things that he reads in the New York Times, or sees on MSNBC or hears on NPR with the authority that Ben Carson might take when explaining modern medicine to a witch doctor.

I don’t want to get into the details of what happened. Suffice to say that my interlocutor invoked a popular-level authority against me, which I promptly discredited, and then I responded with peer-reviewed studies published by scholars from two prominent universities. He ignored the studies and demanded to know whether I would accept his caricatured, simplistic view of what people who disagree with him believe.

This not the first time he has done this to me, either – it is standard practice apparently, for people on the secular left.

It goes like this:

  • Me: here are two arguments against naturalistic evolution, the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion.
  • Him: but you don’t believe in a young-Earth do you? I mean, you believe in evolution don’t you?
  • Me: let’s talk about how proteins and DNA is sequenced, and the sudden origin of Cambrian body plans
  • Him: (shouting) Do you believe in evolution? Do you believe in evolution?

And this:

  • Me: there hasn’t been any global warming for 18 years, and temperatures were warmer in the Medieval Warming Period
  • Him: but you don’t deny climate change, do you? everyone on NPR agrees that climate change is real
  • Me: let’s talk about the last 18 years of no warming, and the temperatures during the Medieval Warming Period
  • Him: (shouting) Do you believe in climate change? Do you believe in climate change?

He asks these questions so he can either label me as a nut, without having to weigh the evidence I’m presenting, or have me agree with him, without having to weigh the evidence I’m presenting. It’s all about ignoring the evidence, so he can get back to his busy, busy practical life – and get back to feeling smug about being smarter than others. I think a lot of men are like this – they don’t want to waste their valuable time studying, they just want to jump to the right conclusion, then get back to doing whatever they want – like watching sports on ESPN, or working out, etc.

So how do you respond to a man who gets his entire worldview from the culture, but never deals with peer-reviewed evidence? Well, I think you just defeat his arguments with evidence and then present your own (peer-reviewed) evidence, and then leave it at that. Men like this one have this invincible impression that all the smart people agree with them. Carl Sagan proved that the universe oscillated eternally, Bart Ehrman proved that the “huge” number of manuscript variants discredited the reliability of the Bible, Sam Harris disproved the moral argument with utilitarianism, etc. Their heads are filled with conclusions from discredited arguments, but they are certain that all the smart people agree with them. The most important thing about these men is that they have never seen a fair academic debate between two sides. They cannot name a single scholar who disagrees with them. They cannot formulate an argument against their own view without caricaturing the argument, e.g. – intelligent design is identical to young Earth creationism, opposition to gay marriage is “homophobia”. And they are careful to surround themselves ONLY with opinions that reinforce the imagined intellectual superiority of their views.

The woman who thinks Christianity is life-enhancement

This one is especially difficult when you are a young man, especially if you are rejected by your mother, and especially if you are rejected by your mother for your Christian faith. You find yourself sitting in church or youth group, hoping for the approval and affection of the Christian women for your sound theology and effective apologetics. Little do you know that many Christian women understand Christianity entirely in self-centered, subjective terms. Many women see Christianity as life-enhancement, designed to produce happy feelings. God is their cosmic butler whose main responsibility is to meet their needs and make their plans work out. Many women have learned to water down every part of Christianity that offends their family and friends, or puts the brakes on their plan to be happy in this life.

I have met Christian women in churches and campus clubs who were communists, Darwinists, pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage, universalists, and pretty much every other kind of secular leftist ideology that is dominant in our culture. When probed, their reason for holding to these views is always a mix of emotions, intuitions,  family-approval or peer-approval. It’s like this subset of Christian women has no independent ability to drive at the truth for themselves through study, but instead they merely adopt whatever feels good from whatever is on offer in their social or cultural environment – like going to a buffet. When they change locations, (e.g. – going off to college), they gravitate to a new set of pleasurable beliefs which earn them peer-acceptance and peer-approval. But the common thread is that they disapprove of any attempt to defend the truth of Christianity objectively with apologetics, and they disapprove of defending (with evidence) the Bible’s teachings if it goes against their feelings and/or against family/peer approval.

So how to respond to women who understand Christianity as life enhancement instead of as responsibilities, obligations and expectations?

First thing, be careful that you don’t attend a feminized church where the pastor in preaching and picking hymns that give you the idea that God is your cosmic butler. Second, read the Bible very carefully, and understand that with respect to God’s purposes for you in this world, your happiness is expendable. You cannot be looking to attractive Christian women that you happen to meet in church to support you, as many of them have long-since sold out to the culture. They are not interested in learning evidential apologetics to defend God’s reputation, or in defending the unborn, or in defending natural marriage, or in defending the free enterprise system that supports family autonomy from the state, etc. Those things are hard and unpopular, especially for those women who were raised to think that Christianity is about life enhancement and peer-approval.

In my case, the woman who tried to shame me has a Bible verse on her Facebook cover photo, and “likes” the Bible on Facebook, and her favorite preacher is Joel Osteen. She’s very beautiful, athletic and attractive. But you cannot be seeking approval and affection from women like that – you must make the choice to do without it. And most important of all, you must accept that beautiful, athletic attractive women can be fundamentally unserious about Christianity. This is “working as designed”,  as we say in the software engineering business. Nothing that most pastors say to women during church is going to fix this problem, because most pastors don’t see this as a problem. Pastors mostly think that women are naturally good, and that they don’t need to know apologetics or integrate with faith with politics, economics, etc.

Here’s 1 Cor 4:1-5 to make the point:

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.

For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

And 2 Tim 2:4:

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Or, since I like Ronald Speirs so much:

This is the situation in which we find ourselves, so get used to it. And believe me, I have to deal with this, too. So I have all the sympathy in the world for you. Resign yourself to the fact that no one is going to approve of you for being faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ; not secular men, not Christian women. There is no cavalry coming to rescue you.

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Is sheltering children a bad thing? What are children for anyway?

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

Lindsay and Doug Harold are Christian super-parents who do recommend sheltering kids. But the way they do it is interesting. Lindsey writes about it on her Lindsay’s Logic blog.

She writes:

People often criticize parents who are careful about what their children watch, listen to, or read or who monitor their friends and influences very carefully. This criticism is very commonly made of homeschooling parents, though it has certainly been applied to others as well. The claim is that these parents are sheltering their children too much and that they won’t know how to deal with the real world when they enter it upon reaching adulthood. Some even claim that sheltered children will be more likely to go crazy with the sudden freedom than children who have grown up exposed to evil things of the world and are used to them.

There seems to be a misunderstanding about what sheltering is and what its purpose is.

There’s a big difference between knowing about evil things that can happen and knowing evil by being steeped in it. It is certainly possible to shelter one’s children too much so that they are ignorant of reality and have no idea how to function in society or how to address the wrong ideas of the world. But that’s very rare. The greater danger is in putting children in the midst of evil before they are prepared (developmentally and spiritually) to handle it. That is by far the more common scenario and the one more likely to result in problems.

You don’t send a soldier into battle until he’s trained, and you don’t send a child into the world until he’s trained either. Children are very vulnerable and need protection until they are prepared to fight evil on their own.

Dina sent me this Gospel Coalition interview with Francis and Lisa Chan, that talked about the importance of training kids to have a specific purpose, too.

It says:

How has parenting seven kids affected your marriage? What’s your biggest piece of advice for fellow parents with respect to their marriages?

Children change everything. I am convinced God uses our children to cleanse us from self-centeredness. Babies demand that you move your focus off yourself and onto them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s only bad when they’re 13 and still believe everyone should drop whatever they’re doing to tend to their needs. It’s hard enough to fight self-centeredness in ourselves, but parents are given the task of training their children to live God-centered lives as well (Deut. 6:4–9).

Our biggest piece of advice would be to view your kids as assets rather than burdens. It used to be that people envied couples with many kids. It meant they had more help on the farm, with the business, around the home, and so on. When people hear we have seven kids now, though, they feel sorry for us! Why is it that for thousands of years children were a blessing, yet in the past few decades we’ve come to view them as burdens? Poor parenting. We raise them to either be burdens or assets. Good parenting involves teaching them to love and serve others rather than expecting to be constantly served. While we will always serve our kids to some degree, we also expect them to serve each other and those around us. Our children have been our biggest assets in ministry. Rather than distracting from kingdom work, they multiply it. Nine servants are better than two.

One of the things that’s scary to me is that if I did get married, my wife might be too soft on the children, and always let them have their way. Women sometimes want to be the child’s friend and not his parent. Men have a different view of children. We want them to be independent and to not starve, and to make a difference for God. So on the one hand, I want to be protective of them and shelter them from things they are not old enough to see, and on the other hand I want them to grow their skills in order to serve God. What a difficult balancing act – I am not sure I understand children well enough to manage it. But, that’s what a wife is for, right? She’s the Director of Child Development.

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