(This week’s guest article is from apologetic author, Dick Sztanyo.)
All of us as parents or grandparents (or those who support their efforts) recognize the responsibility of proper spiritual training for our children. Schools focus primarily on the “3 R’s” which are “Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.” What I believe that Scripture teaches so plainly is the priority of the “4th R,” namely, “Righteousness.” Ephesians 6:4 says: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
This reading is from the New American Standard Bible (used throughout, unless otherwise indicated). The King James Version reads “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Proverbs 22:6, well known to most parents states: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Even though neither passage is a guarantee that youngsters will never freely choose to abandon their Lord, the importance of both cannot be overemphasized. No one will fail to understand the necessity of teaching children from these texts. Our Bible school programs in the local churches and our Christian schools, at the University and College level as well as below even to the beginning of a child’s education, are not designed to replace the training of the home, but instead, to support it!
The need for such training should be obvious. Flavil Yeakley, church statistician, informed us that fully 40% of young people affiliated with churches of Christ, leave the Lord’s church by the time they leave home. 20% of these join other religious organizations, while 20% become irreligious. Half of this last 20% become atheists. Such information as this makes it clear that it is never too early to begin to train our children to know that God exists, that the Bible is His word, and that Jesus the Christ is His divine Son. I am thankful for authors like my friend David Roper, who is able to communicate well with small children. I have been working in the field of apologetics for some 40 years, but I readily confess that I am not equipped to effectively teach younger children. So, I am grateful for people like David who can do what some of us cannot do. All of us are needed to do this important work. I direct my efforts to those who are older, and sometimes very well educated.
Zoey likes to ask questions. She wants to know how things come to be at all. Actually, one of the most penetrating philosophical questions is simply, “Why does anything exist?” This question has intrigued philosophers for decades upon decades. The first “Zoey” book seeks the very simple answer to that question. Of course, there will be other books to follow with Zoey’s additional questions. Perhaps David will even branch out from preschoolers to also include elementary children within the scope of his work. Maybe other talented individuals will contribute their abilities toward expanding this significant work. In any case, we all need to thank God for the incredible curiosity of young children, and we need to make sure that we don’t ignore the need, but instead, that we work hard to help our children discover God, learn to love God, and finally, commit themselves to God through their relationship with Jesus Christ and His church. I am thankful that something is being done to address this vital question at such an early age.
(Dick Sztanyo is the author of various apologetic publications, including the textbook Graceful Reason: Studies in Christian Apologetics. If you are interested in a serious study of apologetics, we recommend this book. It is available on Amazon.)