As much as you may hope that your children come to you, your minister or their Bible class teachers with their spiritual questions, they are probably more likely to do a quick Google search. In my last post, I shared some basic skills to teach your children so it is at least a little more likely they will find accurate answers when they do spiritual research online.
Eventually, your child may be faced with two slightly or incredibly different answers to their spiritual question in their results. How do they know which answer is biblical? Is it possible the search missed an answer that is more correct than either of those? There are a lot of questions your children can learn to ask themselves to make it more likely they are accepting the right answer as truth – the most obvious being to compare it to everything else in scripture.
Before they can even start asking themselves those important questions, they may decide an answer is correct based on not so reliable criteria. As important as it is to teach your kids strong biblical research skills, it is equally important they learn to avoid making decisions about the spiritual reliability of an answer based on…
- Their emotional response to the answer. “It feels right.” is not a reliable indication of the validity of a response. Emotions may be based more on what your kids want to be true, rather than what is actually true.
- Whether or not the response ”makes sense”. Logical fallacies are by design meant to sound… logical. Except, ultimately they are anything but logical. Unless your kids are experts in spotting and avoiding logical fallacies, whether or not something sounds logical to them is an unreliable gauge of an answer’s actual validity.
- Whether or not they have heard of the author of the response before. Well read Christians can point to more than one famous Christian author whose works are filled with misguided spiritual advice and/or interpretation of scripture. Fame is not necessarily based on how accurate a writer/speaker is. Often popularity is based on personality, speaking ability or connections.
- How many social media followers the author of the response has. Once again this is more of a popularity contest than it is a test of how biblical the person’s answers may be. It might equate, but often it does not.
- How many books the author of the response has written or how many TED Talks the person has given. Yet again, these are measures of the popularity of a person – not whether or not they are teaching biblical truths. Remember, even the Apostle Paul admitted he was not the most engaging public speaker!
- The age of the author of the response or the person’s appearance. Young people tend to assume anything said by people of a certain age is automatically out dated – and by extension – wrong. Others may respect the answers of someone, because they are older (not too old of course!) or look intelligent. Appearance is a poor indication of whether or not someone is sharing biblical truths. In fact scripture tells us Jesus, himself, was probably not particularly handsome. (Isaiah 53:2)
The bottom line is that the best answers to spiritual questions are in scripture and the best responses send the reader back to scripture – not just a few verses possibly taken out of context – but as many scriptures as possible. Taking the time to teach your kids these skills will make it less likely they are led astray by false teaching. Of course the best insurance is making sure they have read and understand the Bible as a whole. The better they know and understand scripture, the harder it will be for someone to trick them.