by Jefferson David Tant
In news reports from Atlanta, Georgia, there have been pictures of a service station/convenience store that is collapsing. What is the problem? There is a large water conduit running under the property, and evidently, a huge leak has formed, perhaps even a collapse of some sort. This has caused the collapse of the foundation of the building. It is evident that the whole structure is on the brink of destruction.
So, what’s the point? We all understand the obvious need for solid foundations. No building will ever stand without a foundation. That is the first step in construction. And in the spiritual realm, we sing songs with the words “On Christ the solid rock I stand.” Another song is “How Firm a Foundation.” We are familiar with Christ’s teaching concerning the need to build on a rock.
"Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great" (Luke 6:47-49).
The point I am making is that according to research, at least 70% of students that come from “Christian” (denominational) homes lose their faith while they are in college. How does this happen? There are at least two contributing factors.
- They are not given any foundation for their faith. I know of few, if any, denominational organizations that teach on evidences — evidence for the existence of God, evidence for creation rather than mindless evolution, evidence for the resurrection of Christ or evidence for the inspiration of the Bible.
- Another major problem has to do with the liberal bias of college professors. Estimates show that in 1990 42% of professors were liberal. That percentage increased to 60% by 2014, with liberal professors now outnumbering those of a more conservative perspective by a ratio of 5 to 1. One survey I saw identified the percentage of liberal professors at 91%.
We can couple this with the admitted aim of many professors, as noted in the following quotes by those who stand before our young people in the classrooms, as I have written before.
“We try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own…We are going to go right on trying to discredit you (fundamentalist parents) in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your view seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours.” [Prof. Richard Rorty, in his essay “Universality and Truth”].
“Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances towards our founding fathers, towards his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being… It is up to you teachers to make all of these sick children well by creating the International Children of the Future” (Chester M. Pierce, Harvard Professor addressing public school teachers. [Berit Kjos, Brave New Schools, p. 161, as Kjos writes in opposition to Pierce].
It is no wonder that the defection rate is so great among denominational young people. But what about our own? I am afraid I have known of too many who have left the faith. There may be various reasons, as Satan is still alive and working to draw disciples away, and he has many weapons at his disposal. But one obvious weapon Satan has is his attack on weak faith.
Then the question is, “How do we prevent this loss?” There are at least three strategies to win the battle in this war with Satan.
Teach Children at Home
The first step is quite obvious. Start at home. This strategy has been used for thousands of years, as we see in God’s instruction to Israel.
"Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up….” (Deuteronomy 6:1-7).
Do we remember what Paul wrote in reminding Timothy of his childhood? “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (II Timothy 1:5). “…and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15). Although Timothy’s father was not a Christian, it is apparent that his grandmother and mother were diligent in providing this young man with a solid foundation. I seriously doubt they thought, “Oh, we’ll send him to Sabbath School every Saturday, and that will be enough.”
And we recall Paul’s admonition to fathers in Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Don’t leave it up to the church to do all the teaching of our young people. How many parents would be content if our public schools only met for three or four hours a week to educate our children? I don’t think that would work very well.
Teach Children at Church
A second ingredient in building a successful and solid foundation would be for local churches to be proactive in teaching evidences. It is obviously good for elders and preachers to plan for lessons in textual studies, for we need to have an understanding of God’s word in the context of various books of the Bible. But especially, in view of the attacks on faith today, there is a need for studies in evidences. There is an abundance of good material available for studies on the evidence of inspiration, studies in the resurrection, studies in the historical accuracy of the Bible, etc.
Select Schools Wisely
A third strategy in helping our young people to be strong in their faith is to be very thoughtful about where we send our children to college. There are some places of higher learning that should have a big “X” on them. Yes, they may provide a good education in the things of the world, but they also may seek to destroy faith in the world to come.
And with respect to our public schools—kindergarten through high school—there are dangers there, as well. Parents need to be involved in the PTA and other activities. I know that even in the 1970s one of my daughters was ridiculed by a teacher because my daughter was a Christian and “Miss Goody-goody Two-shoes,” (whatever that was supposed to mean). And this was in the “Bible belt” south.
God has given parents a great treasure, and we need to take every precaution to protect his great gift. “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalms 127:3).
Dear reader, it is imperative that we establish a firm foundation for our children. We do that by establishing their faith. The Hebrews’ writer declared, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). The word “assurance” is from the Greek “hupostasis.” Among the various words used in its definition are “a setting under (support)…substance.” What is a foundation? It is that which “stands under.”
The King James translation renders the verse: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith “stands under.” It is our foundation. It must be strong. It must be instilled in our children. Paul encourages us to “take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). If our faith is strong, it can overcome anything Satan can throw at us.