Churches are doing children a great disservice in not teaching them sound doctrine.
Here’s a sobering fact the Church must come to grips with: Even children who are “churched” are woefully unprepared to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3). This is a front-line issue, yet Church leaders and parents just don’t “get” how important it is to teach the younger generation how to defend their faith.
In the early Church the Apostle Paul faced this issue head on. He warns, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). All of the Apostles had to deal with false teaching, Gnosticism in particular. For them getting it right was important!
What exactly is Church doctrine? It’s a set of core principles to be upheld by professing Christians. Doctrine both describes and teaches the will of God.
You ask, “Why should anyone care if doctrine’s being taught in the 21st Century contemporary Church?” The reason teaching doctrine is important is that liberal Christians think it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you label it Christianity. Mike Gendron explains that today the only test for becoming a Christian is “a simple acceptance of Jesus as a historical figure. In our postmodern church, doctrine is out and tolerance is in. We are told that for the sake of unity, doctrine should not be tested or contested. We are not supposed to draw any definitive lines or declare any absolutes. Doctrinal and moral issues which were once painted black and white, are now seen as gray. The state of the church is now in a state of confusion."
There’s nothing wrong with black and white thinking, especially when it comes to issues of faith. But the PC police bully people of faith into remaining in our gray toned comfort zones so that we don’t make waves or cause controversy. One of the biggest controversy avoiders on the planet is “evangelism’s hottest rising star” Joel Osteen. Prosperity preacher Osteen goes to great lengths to avoid controversial subjects like sin, judgment and hell. For a real eye-opener on this popular prevaricator, check out his interview with Larry King. Read it and weep.
But I digress.
In order to discern false teaching (like Osteen’s) kids must be taught sound doctrine. For children to lead good moral lives they must have a firm grasp on what they believe about their faith and why they believe it. Those who aren’t prepared to answer hard questions experience personal doubt. Which is why, “Nothing is more important than seeding deep within the heart and mind of a child core Christian convictions like Jesus is God; The reasons we know Jesus Christ rose from the dead, why we should be convinced the Bible is a true and accurate revelation from beginning to end and the absolute truth that Jesus is the only way to God. Unless our children know these and other key doctrines revealed in the Bible, they will not be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
Sadly, kids who don’t know what they believe in often slip through the cracks and fall in with the me-focused-intent-only-on-pleasure land of the liberals. Incidentally, liberalism must be out and out rejected by serious Christians for the simple reason that proclaiming man’s self-sufficiency in the moral and social order denies God. Plus liberalism encourages freedom from all restraint in both speech and action, while Christianity encourages restraint in both speech and action. Because of its self-centered worldview, liberalism is incompatible with historic orthodox Christianity. (One can’t help but wonder why people of faith sat around twiddling their thumbs while a small number of secular progressives (SP’s) led our nation down the thorny path of materialism, decadence, and moral depravity.)
Speaking of people of faith, Christian parents are either ignorant of what the Bible teaches about morality, or they know perfectly well what the Bible says and they choose to imitate ungodly behavior and allow their children to do the same. Is it any wonder unbelievers call Christians hypocrites? Some Christians deserve that title! Jesus was not impressed with the hypocrites of His day. He called them “whitewashed tombs...full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean” (Mat. 23:27). Ouch!
Our government is in shambles. The Church is a dead mess. Parents are living for themselves instead of for their children, and children are suffering for it. Kids are battling the world, the flesh and the devil on all fronts. This is nothing new, of course. The battle for children’s minds has been raging since the beginning of time. Which is why the Bible warns parents to, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6). What is new, though, is that kids in Christian homes do not have both feet firmly planted in a biblical worldview. Their feet are planted in quicksand! Sorry to point the finger moms and dads, but YOU have dropped the ball. YOU have become negligent in preparing your kids for a life of service to God. And it’s not the Church’s fault. YOU are to blame.
With virtually no protection, kids are thrown to the wolves in sheep’s clothing that are teaching in liberal government schools. Yet these same parents would never allow their precious little ones on roller blades or skateboards without a helmet and protective padding.
May I have your attention, please! Christian children are too gentle to live amongst the wolves. We’re no longer living in the 50s - and we can’t go back there either. In light of that sad fact, God’s kids must be armed and ready for battle! (Read Ephesians 6:10-20 )
Christian kids attending government schools are at the mercy of agenda-driven educators that are firmly established in classrooms all across America. As a result, youngster’s impressionable minds are regularly conditioned with virulent anti-Christian propaganda. Facts are hard to ignore. A 2005 survey established that 72 percent of college faculty admits that they’re liberal. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we hear that two-thirds of “born again” Christians who enter college emerge committed liberals and leave the Church.
SP’s have impacted society in ways no one would have thought possible fifty years ago. Who are these people? Mostly Marxists and socialists who would like to see America go the way of Western Europe. The SP movement is anti-God and wants religion out of the public square. They oppose traditional values. They loathe conservatives. The SP ideology supports the radical gay agenda (which includes same-sex marriage), abortion on demand, euthanasia, legalized drugs, and is openly hostile to any forms of Christianity. Is it any wonder that the younger generation has lost its moral compass? (Read Spring heartbreak) SP’s have got their fingers in every pie. Their bony digits are in our educational system, the news media and every aspect of entertainment. Even mainline churches have adopted their social and political agenda.
News flash! A Christian’s worldview should come from the Bible not from Hollywood! Authentic evangelical Christianity contends that “absolute moral truth exists; such truth is defined in the Bible; God is the all-knowing and all-powerful creator and ruler of the universe; faith in Jesus Christ is the only means to salvation; Satan is a real being; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and all of the principles taught in the Bible are true and accurate.” 
Evangelicals should be getting their marching orders from the King of Kings, not from the unprincipled liberal media – and certainly not from the morally bankrupt Hellywood elite!
The number of professed Christians that know little or nothing about their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, or about the Bible - or even how God wants His people to conduct their lives - is staggering! God expects believers to obey Him. Obeying Christ’s commands is a must do. He is the Master of your soul. You are not.
Anyone who is not sure what Christ wants from them should take a few minutes to read through the pages of 1 John. The Apostle lays out God’s plan in a no holds barred fashion - and he leaves no wiggle room. 1 John 2:3-6 says, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” Further, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But 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 1:5-7). See? No wiggle room.
Make no mistake about it. God has set down rules (as all fathers should) for His children to take to heart. And Father God can be mighty strict! He cannot be manipulated, so forget about trying. He doesn’t compromise either.
It should be easy to tell Christian kids from the unsaved, but it’s not. This is an indictment on moms and dads who have botched the job. More and more parents are leaving God’s admonition to “train a child in the way he should go” up to Sunday school teachers, youth pastors, even grandparents. According to a recently released study on raising children that was conducted by the Barna Group, some parents “take the path of the least resistance.” In this approach, “parents do whatever comes naturally to the parent, as influenced by cultural norms and traditions. The objective is to keep everyone - parent, child, and others - as happy as possible, without having the process of parenting dominate other important or prioritized aspects of the parent’s life.” 
Hence kids are headed the wrong way down a dangerous one-way street. Kids need direction – and they need supervision!
There’s also trial-and-error parenting, which Barna says is a common alternative. “This approach is based on the notion that every parent is an amateur at raising children, there are no absolute guidelines to follow, and that the best that parents can do is to experiment, observe outcomes, and improve based upon their successes and failures in child rearing. In this incremental approach, the goals of parenting are to continually improve and to perform better than most other parents.”
This is the “no backbone” approach to parenting.
In his survey Barna found that “revolutionary parenting” was the least common approach. “Such nurturing requires the parent to take God’s words on life and family at face value, and to apply those words faithfully and consistently.”
The key to successful parenting is to be “consistent.” In other words, follow through with your threats/promises. Parents must say what they mean and mean what they say. The Bible does not encourage wishy-washy parenting. Love means never having to say, “OK, you win!” to your offspring.
Children have excellent minds, an enormous potential for learning, and soak up information like sponges. Kids want to learn new things! Sadly, most parents are under the misconception that their children really don’t want to learn about the Bible. My question is this: if they’re not learning Scripture, how are they supposed to identify error when they come across it? Paul says Christians are to, “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Can you demolish arguments? How is your thought life? Having a little trouble with obeying Christ? Been to church lately? Your children are watching…
Biblical illiteracy is a huge problem, and parents need solutions. Author and speaker for Summit Ministries, Chuck Edwards, offers this advice: “Teach students that Christianity is a comprehensive world and life view. This means explaining the reality of God’s truth in every area: from philosophy and science, ethics and economics, to psychology, sociology, law and, yes, even politics. In this way, no matter what course a student takes, he or she will be able to discern when the professor is presenting an anti-biblical bias.” 
There are all sorts of Christian organizations that offer conferences that equip young people for the challenges they will face. Consider…
WORLDVIEW WEEKEND: “Topics include how to create true converts and not false converts; how to pass your values on to your children and grandchildren; understanding the worldview war; how we know Jesus is the only way; how we know Jesus rose from the dead; how we know the Bible is true; archeological evidence that confirms the Bible; the search for Mt. Sinai; put your beliefs to the test; do you think like a Christian.” Read
Upcoming events: worldviewweekend.com/upcoming.php worldviewtube.com/
CODE BLUE RALLY: “Worldview Weekend is now booking dates for a series of FREE Code Blue Rallies. Churches can sponsor a Sunday night Code Blue Rally. Here are the requirements for hosting a Sunday night Code Blue Rally.” Read
MIND GAME CONFERENCES: “Probe Ministry’s “Mind Games” conferences have been preparing young people for the challenges to their faith for nearly a decade. In that time we have had the pleasure of witnessing first hand the incredible thirst for a reliable trustworthy faith on the part of so many young people today. Again and again we hear that some had despaired of ever finding something like Mind Games. The conference consistently exceeds expectations and we frequently hear that they wished they had brought others.”
SUMMIT MINISTRIES: “Summit Ministries is the leading provider of worldview materials including: conferences, curricula, books, videos, audio, and essays. Summit Ministries offers two-week summer conferences for students. “At the Summit, you will learn how to understand ideas and answer major challenges to Christianity, being taught by our nationally renowned faculty who will answer your questions and help you develop a Biblical worldview and challenge you to become a leader.” More...
BACK TO GENESIS: Back to Genesis: “The Battle for the Beginning will inform, challenge, and motivate you to defend the truth and engage your culture. The Institute for Creation Research, the leader in creation science research for over 35 years, brings to audiences the richness of God’s creation clearly evidenced in the Bible and science. Staffed with a full-time faculty of top research scientists in the fields of geology, biology, astronomy, genetics, and education, ICR carefully analyzes key scientific findings and then convincingly demonstrates the correlation of those discoveries with the creation account in Genesis.” More...
APOLOGETICS FOR ADULTS:
Nancy Pearcey has written Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. “Pearcey gives credibly argued perspectives on everything from Rousseau’s rebellion against the Enlightenment, to the roots of feminism, to the spiritual poverty of celebrity-driven Christianity. She also provides a layperson’s guide to the history of America’s anti-intellectual strain of evangelicalism. … Pearcey deftly applies [Francis] Schaeffer’s core insight that modernity has been built on a “two-story” view of reality-with “facts” on the ground floor and “values” up in the air. Her critique of this view is compelling, and her final chapters, which begin to sketch an integrated Christian way of living and thinking, are exceptional. This is the rare long book that leaves one wanting to read more.” There is also a study guide edition.
"When sound doctrine is replaced with shallow teaching made up of humorous stories and opinions, you will find spiritual ignorance and biblical illiteracy in the pew. New babes in Christ will have difficulty growing in the grace and knowledge of their Savior when pastors do not preach the whole counsel of God. When the Word of God is not being faithfully taught, people will not hear truth. And if they don’t hear truth, they will be unable to discern God’s way from man’s way, truth from error and right from wrong. We must all become more and more discerning because no man is infallible and no preacher is beyond the possibility of doctrinal error. We must always be ready to reject what is false and hold fast to what is true. As disciples of Jesus we must be known for what we’re, for as well as what we’re against." --Mike Gendron
1, The Disappearing Doctrine of the Evangelical Church By Mike Gendron
2, Interview with Joel Osteen - Joel Osteen Can’t Tell You the Gospel/Doesn’t Know Who’s Going to Hell - Biblical Discernment website
3, Worldview Weekend for Children - Worldview Weekend website
4, College Senior Survey: Program Overview - Cooperative Institutional Research Program
5, Spring heart-break By Marsha West
6, Research Shows Parenting Approach Determines Whether Children Become Devoted Christians - The Barna Grooup
8, Why students walk away from Christ… and what can be done about it! By Chuck Edwards
9, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. By Nancy Pearcey
© 2007 Marsha West - All Rights Reserved
Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report, an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org.