Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman


It's Not A "Story"


  When I was a young man in my twenties, I was at Harding University attending a Teaching Seminar. The instructor made a point that has stuck with me since. He insisted that we should stop calling Bible Narratives "Stories." He said we were giving our children the idea that these narratives were not true, but just a story, a fairy tale like: Mother Goose, The Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, or Harry Potter. As a result of that class, you never hear me refer to Biblical Narratives as Bible "Stories."


  However, not since that class have I heard anyone else teach this idea until last week I read a piece from Dr. Michael Knight. I know nothing about him but want to share his thoughts that certainly align with what I was taught years ago. Here it is...


  "Faith often seems allusive and abstract. Ambiguity can become your best friend as you reach forward to know Christ more. However, not all of faith is ambiguous. There are so many 'hidden' gifts available today for your family's spiritual legacy.  I want to walk you through what we know scientifically about the retention of faith.


  Today, there has been much labor amongst social scientists (both Theologians and Psychologists) in researching how children and adolescents retain their religious faith. My friend, Ed Stetzer, wrote recently in an article for The New York Times that Christianity is NOT dying in America. 'What is happening is the nominal Christian in America is dying. The nominal is turning into the 'nones' and those with conviction are remaining the committed.' If you are an Evangelical in America, you will have approximately a 65% retention rate among your children.


Consider Two Silver Bullets That Will Help us...


  One... What every parent must know and every grandparent must commit to is this realization. The exit of your children from the Christian faith will take place much earlier than you think. According to highly respected researchers, our children walk away from the faith BEFORE middle school is over; NOT college as originally suspected.


  Two... The number one contributor to a dysfunctional belief system will shock you. If your child was reared going to Sunday School, they are more likely NOT to believe the Bible is true, NOT to believe that Jesus is the only way, NOT to believe in any literal scriptures. That's hard to believe, but that is right. So what do we do? Stop going to Sunday School, remove our children from ALL Bible studies? NO, NO, NO!


  What researchers discovered is that when a teacher teaches the Bible as a "story," the student assumes that the story is just that, a 'story.' However, when the Bible is taught as literal history, (and it most certainly can be), the student's retention rate skyrockets.


  Do you realize that the leading archaeologists in the world have said that the Bible has never, NEVER, been controverted by any archaeological find? Skeptics said for years there was no Pontius Pilate, no King David, no Hittites, no large City of David, no Nebuchadnezzar. Only a fool would dare say the same thing today. History changes the way our children receive the faith by legitimizing it to the child. Every day they are confronted with secular humanisms. Where is the rebuttal? Does the average Christian parent even know how to answer their children's questions about faith? I hope so, but this one thing I do know: Heaven and hell hang in the balance of our children's decisions."


  We may choose to agree or disagree with Dr.Knight, but he presents some thought provoking material that I feel should be accepted and practiced:


  1) We must not "wait" to teach our children about God and share Biblical principles. Nursery Classes should be just that "classes" not nurseries. My daughter teaches in a preschool program that's called "Wet-Cement." Indeed, our children's minds are moldable at an early age, far earlier than we imagine! Let's take advantage of this fact before the cement sets permanently. Amen?


  2) Let them know early that Jesus is the only way: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (John 14.6 & Acts4.12).


  3) May God help us to present His truths on a scale above fallacy and fable. Let them know these are truths to live by, truths that cleanse our soul and keep us on heaven's road. "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1.7).


  4) Always, always refer to Biblical Narratives in a manner that will emphasize legitimacy. Certainly never refer to them as just another "story." Amen?


  Think on these things!


 —Randall Caselman