Vol.XIX No.IX Pg.1
November 1982

Inherited Faith

Robert F. Turner

Brethren tell me they are not baptizing their young people — or not as many of them as in the past. "Their" young people?? Of course they mean children of church members, who were "in Bible class" since infancy. This may be a good reason to examine teaching programs; or ponder the effect of working mothers and the break-up of home life. But first, consider what may be a fatal attitude. Have we relied on a sort of automatic baptizing of "our" youth (like father, like son) without having to convert each one? Do we treat them as individuals, each lost in sin, needing to make a decision independently, that will affect the remainder of life?? Do we count them as "ours" when in reality, as respects the gospel, each belongs to him or her self, until commitment is made to Christ?

Many young people are "on their own" for the first time when they go away to college. Here they begin true self-evaluation, and a "rap" session with them reveals what they find. We respect the confidential nature of such conversations, but I can tell back-home elders and preachers that "their" young people, though home-loving and "loyal to the church," are often unsure of what the latter means. Many have an inherited faith, not their own. So, they experiment with strange doctrines or new life styles.

Prejudicial studies of denominational error do little to prepare our youth to meet the real thing. Pushing baptism on youngsters before they are truly aware of sin and its consequences, sends upper teenagers into the world with little reliance on or appreciation for a merciful God. Failure to explain "issues" scripturally and free of bias, convinces reflective young people that there were probably only personal differences.

We have some fine young Christians but we also have third-generation "Church-of- Christers!' While the latter hungers for freedom from home restraints; a fellow-student, same age, who has but recently obeyed the gospel, is hungry for more truth and humbly thankful for salvation. It would shake you up to hear these two in a heart-to-heart talk. Maybe we need a shaking — to try and save our youth.