I just came back from a meeting with my daughter and two of her friends. They attend a charter school in the area. I’ve been challenging and equipping them to reach their fellow students with the gospel. Today they kind of pushed back and told me that their classmates are particularly hostile to people attempting “push their religion” on them. Vocabulary means everything. The phrase their friends use reveals a lot about their mindset. They see Christianity or seemingly any faith system as something which can be thrust upon them. That’s too bad. As a follower of Christ I have no desire to make another person accept him. In fact Jesus seems to have made it hard for people to follow him. He doesn’t want the unwilling. So, an authentic relationship with the risen Son of God by definition cannot be pushed on another person.
However, I am driven to do all I can to help as many people as possible come under the kingdom reign of Christ. What drives me is the inner joy that I have received. I don’t want to push my religion; I only want to share my joy. I don’t believe people will suffer for eternity in hell so I have no need to issue a “turn or burn” ultimatum. I just want to see people be saved, not from eternal damnation but from the brokenness plaguing them in this mortal coil. Yes, I believe I have received eternal life but the word “eternal” is a qualitative as well as a quantitative modifier. I’ve received a different way of living that will also never end. Isn’t that worth sharing with everyone?
I expect you know I’ll take a different stance on this! When I was at school way back in the early 80s (I’m currently 44) we did 1 hours Religious education a week. I’m not going to deny, I enjoyed it. The teacher was a good man, who made the stories sound interesting, battles, David and Goliath and such. I recall getting a good mark in the exam and he implored me to stay on in the following years and study it more. Back then you studied everything then after the first year of upper school decided on which subjects you wanted to stick with and liked, maths, english and at least one science being compulsory. As much as I liked religious education I realised I liked actually history more, it had more to get your teeth into, more facts and was more tangible. It was a shame in some respects as the teacher was one of my favourites, a noble man, a great sense of humour and a warmth rarely seen in the other teachers, he understood my decision and accepted it. I also recall (you’re making me take a trip down foggy memory lane) my friend called Darren. He was a Jehovah’s Witness and during religious education had to sit at the back and read his own bible, I remember watching him looking lonely and underlining phrases and verses in it with a highlighter pen, unable to join in on his parents order with the rest of us. I bumped into him some years ago, he’s no longer a Jehovah’s Witness and is happily married.
I think they teach religion nowadays under the heading of cultural studies, so I’ve been told though schools may vary, and of course we have different faith schools. Personally I think schools should be secular in nature and children made to concentrate on more core subjects. I don’t think we should exclude religion but I think we should (and I think they do) put it in with studying other faiths under cultural studies. I’m guessing its hard in some schools to teach one religion above others as some parts of England are very multicultural and diverse, so if you address one faith you’ll have to address them all to be fair.
Religion in my view should be covered at school but not preached. After all you can’t argue that Christian kids get plenty of bible studay either at home, in church or church related classes or groups, same goes for other faiths. That said is there any need to bring faiths into schools unless they are specific faith schools? It’s never a good idea to say to children ‘Look, this is how it is’ and that’s it, there should be choice and reasoning and let them decide what they believe. Creationism is pure folly because it is merely a belief, Darwinism and natural selection are theories but again not etched in stone, though I would go with the latter because it has more evidence and makes more sense. Children should be presented with all options ideally, so they can review the evidence and come to their own conclusions and choices, to me individuality is everything.
Two things: First, I don’t want to spread religion. Paul the Apostle himself continued to be a practicing Jew even while preaching what he called The Way. The faith which Jesus has brought cannot be a religion since a person could not adhere to two religions at once. This is why JW’s are not Christians because they adhere to a religion of their own making. A person could not be both a JW and a practicing Jew simultaneously.
The second thing is that I do not expect any secular institution to teach faith in Christ. If they did, they would mess it up as in your experience. I do, however, expect that anyone who professes faith in Christ regardless of their situation or station in life share the good news that his kingdom has begun and is coming.
The lives of the kids at my daughter’s school are unraveling. Whatever you believe, they need rescuing. I can personally attest to the power of the gospel to accomplish just that.
Thanks for your comments. Glad to see that you reupped.
You said ‘I do, however, expect that anyone who professes faith in Christ regardless of their situation or station in life share the good news that his kingdom has begun and is coming.’ Ok fair comment but we can both agree there is a time and a place to do this, not the playground, classroom or street. otherwise it’s pushy. The local Evangelicals do it in the street and label people walking past, that just isn’t right at all, JW’s bring it to your doorstep and they aren’t even a religion in my view, more a cult and they can be very unreasonable when presented with counter facts. You’ve mentioned in the past kids crave religion but I think they only crave it in the sense kids might crave Harry Potter or Star Wars, it’s fantasy, it appeals and even as adults we like our flights of fancy, our daydreams and moments from reality. Its not my place to tell you how to bring up your kids but remember they are individuals that should be presented with the whole panoply of what is out there, then they can decide.
If I had a kid and they grew up and said ‘Look dad, I’m really into my christianity’ then I’d respect it. Truth? I’d be disappointed but love is unconditional and as long as they were happy then that would be all that mattered, it wouldn’t be for me to foist my atheist/humanist views on them really would it? I’d be happy to discuss stuff with them but ultimately the decision would be theirs. This is my big bone of contention with religion, the indoctrination, the sowing of seeds at an impressionable time in order to dominate the kids thinking, in effect to brain wash. I’m not for one second levelling those accusations at you, as I’d like to think you’re smarter than that and more open minded but I’m sure you see my point.
Hi, hobbit-humanist. I enjoyed reading the exchange between you and our pastor. I had to smile when I got to the part about how he raises his kids. You most definitely discerned that right! The daughter he mentioned in his post is my daughters friend and I would have to say she is one of the strongest minded, most independent thinking, and delightful girls around. She most definitely was raised with respect to her individuality (as are all their kids). And at 17 she is one very together young lady. She has chosen and embraced Christianity, but you would only have to talk to her about it for a few minutes to realize that it’s her decision 100% and not something pushed on her or that she choose to gain approval or acceptance from her parents. She was always accepted so no need to gain it. As a Christian and a parent myself, I believe that it is actually impossible to force a decision to believe in God, or in Christ as divine, on my children. I agree with you that many Christians do try to force their children to make the same choices they have religiously, but it just doesn’t work and in fact a lot of times has the opposite effect of the one the parents. desired.
Thanks, Ginger, for your input. I think it all goes back to my post, “What Works.” Following Jesus works. It just does. If that’s the case, people should pause to consider whether it transcends purely human origins.