Vol.XII No.IX Pg.5
November 1975

Looking For Answers

Robert F. Turner

Last month we published a catalog of problems found in inherited religion (Where Did We Fail?). Surely you dont expect the answers to all of that? We may have started something we cant finish. But we must try! It doesnt relieve our feelings, or responsibility, to know that other generations of parents have had these problems, and many have failed.

Parents and the church (another parent psychologically) have more or less absolute control over the small child in early teaching situations. Then is the time to remember it will not always be this way. If we exercise this authority in such a way as to fail to prepare the child to think for himself in the years ahead, we fail the child. His childish questions demand more than a laughing dismissal, or even a correct answer that is over his head. It is our job to find a means of leading him to the answer, in keeping with his ability to reason. Be assured, he will one day think for himself — when we can no longer dictate the outcome.

We must avoid the use of party loyalty in order to keep him in line. We tell adults they must be faithful to the Lord rather than to the church, but we must remember that to a child God, Jesus, and the Bible are party figures, until clear distinction is formed in his concepts. Some think we have soured our children on the church by our struggle with liberalism. On the other hand, these critics become a bit hazy when asked how a liberal, social gospel concept would lead our children closer to true Christianity.

I do not see how it could hurt my child to learn that his dad had faith in the Lord and in His word, and that he fought unselfishly for what he thought was right and true. But HOW he fought — that is another matter. It is very possible that our children see through our carnality. We must tell them with something more than words, that we do love our enemies, and love the Lord more than we love our pay checks. Often the hard line fanatical parent is simply repeating their parents attitude, inconsistently, and with vengeance.

We must swallow our pride and acknowledge that no person or congregation is perfect. We do not have all the answers, we are not free of human traditions (nor are all traditions harmful). But we do have the media and means of searching for truth, and we must instill our children and pupils with faith in Gods word, and a genuine spirit of inquiry. Research classes (learning to use study tools) are especially appropriate for active young minds, and may greatly improve adult classes. The answers are available, and the humility and trust we show in searching will build faith.

Yes, it is easier (for the time) to whip children (and adults) into line with arbitrary pronouncements. The few and inadequate suggestions above call for better teachers, better preparation of each lesson, more training in teaching techniques, etc. The teachers can say, I quit! and parents can pretend they have no such problems — but we go on losing our children, and judgment will demand a reckoning. What will we then say?