Indoctrination and the Word of God

Because I’d rather not ignore comments, especially from those I don’t know, I thought I’d give it a shot at responding to this question from Carlos Jackal, which came up in my post regarding Super Saviour:

Indoctrinating children into a specific religion is plain wrong. If I were to indoctrinate my children to believe in Zeus or Thor people would raise their eyebrows. What proof do you have that the Bible is the word of god, compared to the 1000s of other gods that have been worshipped before.

My honest and forthright opinion.

I don’t know how long it’ll take to give what may not be as eloquent and learned as some who may be so, but it’s better for me to try as opposed to give the blogger’s equivalent to the middle finger and delete the comment because it’s too hard to answer.

On indoctrination – I’m no parent for starters, but I was a child (some may argue that I still am) raised in a Christian household. I don’t feel that I was indoctrinated. To me, indoctrination is a method of teaching that doesn’t allow for room to reject what is being taught, and a parent will simply not accept failure if the child grows up and decidesthat what they were taught isn’t worth believing. Sure it may not be a letter to the law definition, but from what I’ve read from others who grew up with zealous Bible believing parents but decided to go their own way, the methods of indoctrination are far removed from what I feel is the right spirit of raising a child to know the principles behind the Christian faith.

Deuteronomy 6 is an indication of how God wished for the laws he established to be taught to geberations of Israelites to folow those who received the exhortation given:

       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. (Deut 6:6-7, NASB)

Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus contains a similar train of thought:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4, NASB)

The passages certainly indicate the importance of a parent teaching the fundamentals of the faith to his/her children, but I don’t think that it’s that far removed from other fundamental realities of life that one teaches to children, such as healthy eating, manners, and other moral virtues that are commonly held to by all people. Parents can pretty much teach their children what they wish to see them come to an age where they will be aware enough to understand the world around them and the differences of opinion that exist about issues of importance.

Is religion/faith one of these? For sure, but I think that to have a proper understanding of what is at stake, it’s important for a young person not to simply take what they have been taught at face value, but to investigate for themselves why they were atught what they were taught. In other words, should I bother making an effort to continue as my parents/guardians/other people have taught me to live, or do I just wipe the slate clean and go on my merry way?

There’s choice at the end of the tunnel that is childhood, and one could choose to reject what their teacher regarded as truthful, thus accepting the implications of that choice. I believe that those of faith have not come to that stage of life by being brainwashed, but by considering that which they have been taught for themselves, as opposed to saying “Yeah, seems good enough to go with that”. After all, belief in something is usually for a reason, and belief in an all powerful God comes with reasons that may vary from person to person. I believe because I trust that what the Bible says is true, and is the framework within which society generally conducts itself today. My trust is upheld by external sources that help support the historical claims within the Bible, such as secular writings by those such as Tacitus and Josephus, and I am very satisfied, given my life experience, that there has been a guiding constant in all the events that I have been a part of.

Would I raise my children in the hope that they would share my faith? Of course I would, but not to the point where I beat them into intellectual submission and make doubly sure that they’re converted to an ideological regime. I would gently raise them in the hope that when they reach the age at which they can decide for themselves whether or not they think what I believe is real or not, they would choose the former. But in no way would I mercilessly condemn them for their decision.

As for a proof that the Word of God is indeed from God – well, in a nutshell, it says it is. 2 Timothy 3:1, an oft quoted verse of the Bible, states that “all Scripture is God breathed”, meaning that the author was inspired by God to write the words that are featured in the Bible. Because I need to head to bed, I’ll give a link that is part of a good site that talks more about the Christian faith and seeks to answer common questions and objections. Click here to check it out. Some other good experts on apologetics to read material from include Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel and Ralph Muncaster.

I may have readers who can help answer the question as well – if you have anything to offer, please use the Comments section. Any offensive posts will not be approved – I would prefer to keep any resulting discussion civil and cordial, and not merely a war of ideas.

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One Response

  1. my son get a bible story every night and we pray with him every night. but i like St tom to take up a offertry in sunday school to show giving to God. It all stsrts at home my family is more important the church

    i thing it wrong to let non Christian to baptised there kids

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