Passing on our Beliefsby Rev. Grant Gunnink on 09/30/10
I'm excited for this upcoming Sunday - I'll be baptizing a little child again! Each time I administer Baptism to a child I think about the process of how parents pass on their beliefs to their children. I'm always very glad to have parents decide on behalf of their child to allow the promise of Baptism to be given to them, because it indicates that they intend to work at passing on their Christian wordview and understanding of life to their child. (With God's and the Church's help of course) I believe this is the normal route which God intended for faith to be passed on.
On the other hand, I see many parents who allow their kids to attend or get involved in some church program because they are taking the 'buffet approach' to passing on faith. They want to let their kids sample a little bit of Christianity, read up on Buddha, hang out with some Muslims, visit a Hindu temple and then they can decide for themselves what they like.
These parents are tentative to pass on any Christian heritage they may have grown up with, they refrain from telling their children what they believe about the big questions of life, and what they think about other religions because they 'don't want to force it' on their kids and they believe that religion is a personal private choice.
However, God created the parent-child relationship to be a conduit for transmitting beliefs, attitudes, worldviews and faith. So in refraining from passing on the Christian heritage you may have received as a child, you are not giving them the 'free choice' you thought you were!
Instead you are communicating to them that faith is relatively unimportant and unconnected to life! You communicate that it doesn't really matter what you believe as long as you are a decent, well-behaved person. That is the "faith and religion" that you are passing on to them, and it will suit them well in our current social context.
However, one day we will all have to answer to Christ for what we believed and how we lived. I wonder how these children will feel at that point - knowing their parents could have passed on their Christian heritage and faith, but chose not to and instead passed on a lie that was more convient for the times in which they lived.
Something to think about as we raise our children.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6