Have you ever struggled with the truth about God and who He truly is? What about some subtle cultural ideas that contradict the Truth of God’s Word? Are we even aware?
A friend once told me, we don’t know when we’re being deceived, literally. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be deceived. It’s kind of a “well, duh” statement, but an important one. What if we are deceived? What if we are teaching those wrong ideas to our kids? We need help!
If we find ourselves saying things like or agreeing with things like: “The Universe is obviously telling me something.” Or “His karma will get him back.” Or “God wants everyone to be happy.” Or “How can a loving God send people to hell?” we might just be deceived.
Progressive theology and New Age theology is gaining momentum and a stronghold in the Christian world today. One of the tenets taught in some circles is that there is no such thing as sin. We are not sinners, and there is no hell. Jesus’ death was a mistake and was certainly unnecessary. We see a whole generation growing up thinking they are fine. They have no need for a Savior. They are good just the way they are living out “their truth.”
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23, NLT)
Some teach that God is a cosmic child abuser for sending His Son to die. Some interpret scripture by 21st Century understanding of words and never try to understand what the Bible really says, so they are teaching some very strange ideas or are just walking away from Christianity altogether.
- No sin? This one takes many forms. Some are going back to gnostic belief that what we do in our flesh is separate from our spirit. Others are buying into the Enneagram theology of our two sides of self. What we consider bad is not really bad or sinful. It is just the part of ourselves we have not embraced yet. There is nothing new under the sun, so of course, we still have the “I’m okay, you’re okay” mentality or the “I’m not as bad as he is” mentality. Then, we have the victim mentality permeating all parts of society. It’s not my fault, someone else is at fault for the way I act. (yes, that one’s been around since about Genesis 3). All of these point to a desire to avoid repentance and accept Christ’s forgiveness of sin.
- This generation is smarter than any other? Our children, especially if they watch TV or attend public school, may have embraced a subtle attitude if they are young or a blatant attitude if they are teens, that they know more than we do—that this generation is smarter than past generations. It’s been around since the beginning of teenage rebellion, but I think it’s been amped up, dare I say it, since the Simpsons became the philosophers of our generation? You may laugh at that, but wherever it came about, this generation is taught they are smarter than any past generation which leads to a lack of respect for us as parents and grandparents and a disrespect for history and biblical teaching.
- The Bible is outdated? This one naturally follows point #2. We see a lot of this stemming from the condemnation of premarital sex and homosexuality. The idea that these are sinful choices is contradicted by teaching in nearly every avenue of our world culture, including many churches. Evolution is true, “science” is trustworthy, so the Bible is wrong. These ideas tear down the entire Bible and its teachings. Plus, add to that Andy Stanley’s whole series on our faith being based on a relationship with our risen Savior rather than scripture – quite frankly which is taken out of the context of what I believe he was trying to say, and I believe he said some things I find hard to swallow – but it leads to throwing out half the Bible, and eventually, all of the Bible. Whether you agree with Andy Stanley or not, we do agree that the foundation of our faith is our relationship with God. But the way we understand God, His ways, His plan, and how to live the Christian life is found in the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation. When we discount one part of the Bible, we discount it all. However, we must make sure we are understanding the Bible correctly to the best of our abilities.
- Embracing the Truth. How can we embrace the truth if we are misinterpreting God’s word? I remember watching a clip with the great theologian Oprah going off on who would want to serve a jealous God and how stupid that was. Yes, the Bible says that God is a jealous God, but interpreting it like a jealous boyfriend who beats up his girlfriend for looking at another guy is not correct understanding. God is clear. He is the Only God, and we are not to worship anyone or anything else. That’s what “jealous” means here. He is calling us to holiness and commitment. He wants us to have steadfast hearts, not divided hearts that lead to unstable minds and ways. This is just one example, but the key here is truly understanding the word of God. In order to do that, we need to be reading it – all of it. If we find a section that seems to contradict the rest of it, we are misunderstanding something. If we are in a good, reliable church with a pastor or respects and knows the Bible, that helps tremendously. We can find mentors to learn from. We can research online with websites like GotQuestions.com or other reliable sites.
- God is everywhere. Recently I shared on my podcast the definitions of omnipresence, pantheism, and panentheism. I’m sure some wondered why it matters. God is everywhere, so why worry about these definitions. They are important because they are subtle differences in understanding who God is. When we understand that God is everywhere and is all-knowing, we find comfort and recognize His Lordship over all things. However, when we say a tree is God and God is in and is everything, we change our entire worldview and understanding of who God is. We reduce Him to His creation rather than the Creator. We would have every right to think, if we follow the panentheistic view, that we too can become “Christs” and reach enlightenment (Buddhism and Hinduism, and Mormonism for that matter). Saying that Karma and the Golden Rule are the same shows that people do not understand the heart and message of the Bible. If we don’t teach our children who God truly is, they are being taught the progressive understanding of God every single day, or worse, they are being taught that Satan is better. Literally, that is being taught.
So, yes, these definitions are important. Our diligence is important. Finding the Truth in God’s Word, living it daily, and teaching it every single day to our children is vital for their spiritual health.
We are in a spiritual battle for the minds and hearts of our children. We must be diligent to guard our hearts and minds as well. God does not want us to panic and react. Too often the Church has done this, and the results have been devastating – spiritual abuse, legalism, extremism in many forms, and cults. These result from wrong theology, fear, and overreacting to what’s happening around us.
So, we must be wise. We must be intentional. We must educate ourselves. And most of all, we must pray.
We are discipling our children every day by what we do and say and the conversations we have. If we are intentional in directing those conversations, we can help them learn to navigate these times in which we live.
I recommend these websites for more information:
I recommend these books:
Faithfully Different and others by Natasha Crain
I recommend these podcasts: