A stint working for Hearst Magazines taught me a lot about the tricks of advertising. I became fascinated by the Good Housekeeping Institute. Anyone wanting to run an ad in Good Housekeeping magazine had to submit the ad copy and the product they were advertising for testing, before being allowed to advertise.
The people at the Institute were meticulous. If a product claimed to have zero of an ingredient and the test showed even one millionth of a particle of it, the ad was rejected until the copy was changed. Mind you, even back then advertisers were paying over $100,000 for a one page ad in one issue. Yet, they willingly accepted the rigor in order to have the cache that came with advertising there (that didn’t even earn you the “Seal”!).
During those years working with advertisers and their agencies, I realized there is a lot of subtle and not so subtle deception in ads. As the years have passed, I have also come to realize people are most often tricked by logical fallacies – a statement that on the surface sounds absolutely logical, but in the end is utter nonsense.
What does this have to do with your kids and God? Absolutely everything. Christians have stopped reading their Bibles like they did in the past. This means that not only do they not really know what is in the Bible, they are susceptible to being led astray by whomever they listen to about God and what He wants from us and for us. False teaching is so common today. Some of it I’m sure is from the ignorance of the teacher – possibly having believed the logical fallacy someone else taught them. Others are possibly teaching error on purpose for a wide variety of reasons.
The problem is (as far as we can tell from the Bible), your children will be held accountable for obeying false teaching. They need to be able to discern what is true and what is a lie dressed up like the truth. Otherwise, they may believe they are living as God would want them to do, but actually living in ways that make God very unhappy.
The first step of the solution is to cover your kids in scripture. Teach them how to read and understand the Bible for themselves. Help them learn to love and value God’s Words indepedently and not just as shared (or mis-shared) by their favorite teacher or preacher.
The second part of the solution is to teach your kids about the various logical fallacies and how to recognize them in the context of Christianity. When they hear a logical fallacy, it should be a warning light for them to personally go search the scriptures for truth. The person stating the fallacy, may indeed be communicating what God wants, but is just using poor logic to do so. Or it could be the cover for a false teaching, which hopefully your child will then reject.
In my next post, I will attempt to simplify logical fallacies and put them in context of the types of things your kids may hear in church or from “religious” people. Along with regular personal Bible study, teaching them these warning signs will give them the tools to avoid false teachings in the future. It is a vital Christian Life Skill they must have in order to reach their true godly potential.