Peter Enns On Raising Young Heretics

What should you do when your young child expresses doubt about the Bible, or even outright unbelief and skepticism?

When Peter Enns’ six-year-old son expressed skepticism about the talking snake and the deadly fruit in the Garden of Eden, Enns replied: “You don’t really believe in God anymore? O.K., well, tell him.” He went on to explain:

Over the years, I have been thankful to God that I didn’t correct my son’s theology, for that would have been utterly stupid. Had I shamed him or coerced him into saying the right thing (so I would feel better about my parenting skills), I would have been responsible for creating another religious drone, another one who, at a young age, was already learning to play the religion game.

I’m sure Peter Enns is a far better father than I am in many ways. And I accept that no one knows a child’s particular needs like their own father or mother. But I hope no one thinks that this is THE model for dealing with their children’s spiritual doubts and unbelief.

Humpty Dumpty
While we want our children to be able to discuss their questions, doubts, and even unbelief, with us and with God, we can’t treat this in the same way as doubting the Humpty Dumpty narrative.

“You don’t believe in God anymore? OK”

OK?

It’s not OK. It’s a sin.

But it’s wonderfully forgivable.

That’s why we don’t just tell Him our doubts and unbelief. We confess it. God will not give us or our children victory over any sin, including unbelief, unless we repent of it and ask for faith.

And to be proud of not correcting the devilish theology that naturally arises out of our children’s sinful hearts? Heresy is more fatal than heroin. And to lovingly correct our children and teach them to submit their proud intellects to God’s Word is not to coerce or shame them into hypocrisy. It’s to love their souls more than they do themselves. It’s to intervene so that young heretics do not become old heretics, but rather live by faith and ultimately die in faith.

I believe, help my unbelief
Yes, let’s encourage our children to be honest with God, to pray about everything, even their worst doubts; but to do so in a spirit of contrition and humility, and with the prayer that God will always answer: “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!”

How about something like this: “Well my son, I’ve had my own struggles with doubt over the years. Faith does not come easily or naturally to any of us. But to doubt God or His Word is a serious matter that we should always repent of. So, why don’t we lay this unbelief before the Lord in humble confession, and ask Him to forgive us, and also to give us the gift of faith that will enable us to believe in Him and every one of His precious words.”

Proud Unbelief
After reflecting on his son’s skepticism, Enns concludes: “I am proud of that little six-year-old, who trusted himself enough not to play games.”

“Who trusted himself enough?”

The whole message of the Bible is trust God and not yourself. To trust yourself is to play a deadly game that no one has ever won.

As Spurgeon once said, “The man who goes through life trying to be consistent with himself will find out in the end that he’s been consistent with a devil.”


Check out

What’s a blog post worth?
Rob Jenkins: “Which ultimately does more good—an article or monograph that is read by 20 or 30 people in a very narrow field, or a blog post on a topic of interest to many (such as grading standards or tenure requirements) that is read by 200,000?”

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$100 of Free Old Testament Resources

Jesus on Every Page Special Offer

Jesus on Every Page provides 10 simple ways to seek and find Christ in the Old Testament. In just over a week, on August 20, it will go on sale in bookshops and online, although you can pre-order right now. You can watch a couple of video trailers, read the endorsements, and choose from a range of online stores at jesusoneverypage.com.

As part of the launch offer, for a limited period of time (until August 31) , I’m making available $100 of Old Testament resources for free download to everyone who purchases the book in paper or eBook form. All you need to do is email your digital receipt or a scan of your shop receipt to jesusoneverypage@gmail.com and I’ll send you instructions on how to access the following free materials:

  • Old Testament Introduction Course. My 63-lecture, 450-page introduction to (almost) every book in the Old Testament. Each Old Testament book is summarized and analyzed, with many Christ-centered applications.
  • Cross Reference – Angel of the Lord Video Curriculum and Study Guide: 10-video series on Christ’s appearances as the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament, together with pdf of Study Guide.
  • God’s Home: A mini-novel with nine chapters that looks at the Christ-centered meaning of the Tabernacle from the perspective of a young Jewish girl, Jerusha. Also comes with study questions.
  • God’s Food. A five-part Bible Study on the Messiah-centered significance of the Jewish sacrificial system.
  • Jesus on Every Page Digital Posters: 8 Digital Posters presenting the content of the book in graphical form.
  • Jesus on Every Page Study Guide Answers.

That’s $100 of free Old Testament resources if you buy Jesus on Every Page before August 31!


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The Builders of this Spanish Skyscraper Forgot the Elevator
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Indispensable
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Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books. Further explanation of that here.

Old Testament

New Testament