Everyone is a theologian! This may sound strange. Not me, we may protest. But no matter what a person believes, none can avoid theology. If someone says there is no God, they are a theologian. Every worldview is theological in some way. This is why Raising Kids for Tomorrow’s World: 12 Keys to Preserving the Faith begins in Chapter 1 with a discussion of worldview which rests on the foundation of your theology.
How can parents teach and instruct their children about the God who created them if they don’t know what they believe themselves? Every parent has to ask, “What do I believe about the origin of man? About the meaning of life, morality, and our destiny? Often, personal worldviews are a miscellaneous collection of various beliefs, and perhaps some we just created on our own. Training our children has to start here with clarifying what we believe ourselves.
Everyone is a Theologian
Imagine you are planning to build a grand timber framed home. (If you are reading this in July, imagine Montana. If you are reading this in January, imagine Hawaii.) Your desire is to provide secure shelter for you and your family and anyone you invite inside—a safe place to live and grow.
If you choose the right source, everything you need for building the structure of your home is delivered to you in a kit on a giant semi-trailer. When you are ready to begin the assembly process, you have options. You can start constructing according to the design or go freelance and assemble according to your own creative impulses. Imagine you are planning to build a grand timber framed home. (If you are reading this in July, imagine Montana. If you are reading this in January, imagine Hawaii.) Your desire is to provide secure shelter for you and your family and anyone you invite inside—a safe place to live and grow.
Either way, you begin with the kit you received.
From the first timber you tackle, you realize the first truth: how the pieces fit together matters. The only way to ensure the structure you build will be sound is to carefully connect the pieces according to the design.
Some of the sturdiest timbers will provide the foundation for the entire structure. Others are designed to fit into these foundation timbers and be supported by them. If the structure is not fitted together as designed, the building will lack strength to withstand the power of the storms that are sure to rage against it.
R.C. Sproul is famous for saying, “Everyone’s a theologian.” This is even the title of one of his books. By this, he means everyone has a set of beliefs about God. Even those who operate as if there is no God still have a theology. For the Christian, our theology is delivered to us from the truth revealed in Scripture. As we gain more wisdom, our understanding increases. You could say our theology is assembled by carefully considering what we have received. There is never a need to create our own theology.
Although most of our children will not build their own home, all of our children are in the process of assembling their theology, their operating system or worldview. If we (and our children) are assembling a sound theological framework, we will have four foundational timbers supporting the entire structure. Any coherent worldview must provide satisfactory answers to these questions:
- Origin—How did we get here? Is there a God? What is he like?
- Meaning—What does this life mean? What is our purpose for existing? How do we understand evil and suffering?
- Morality—How do we know what is right and what is wrong? What is the basis for ethics and morality?
- Destiny—What happens when we die? Where is history headed?
When we consider these four foundational timbers, there is no doubt why the question of origin is first. From our answer to: “How did we get here?” will flow the understanding necessary to address all the others.
It also follows that if we have no good answer to this question, we will have unconnected answers to the rest. In our attempt to find meaning in life, the only tools left in our toolbox would be our own speculations and musings.
What if your children have not assembled the pieces by the time they are in high school? Or when they leave for college? They may be tempted to adjust their theological pieces to accommodate the “theology” of their friends and the influential people around them. This is why, as a parent or as a grandparent, you have a most important role in leading your children to discover, fall in love with, and embrace the truths God has revealed.
A.W. Tozer, an American Christian pastor and author, said…
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Our task as parents is to present to our children a truthful and coherent understanding of God and life.
Consider and Apply:
- Examine your beliefs about origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. Do your core beliefs come from a biblical framework, or are they collected from various belief systems and possibly your own interpretation of reality?
- “Worldviews are caught more than taught. Like a cold, most people ‘catch’ their worldview beliefs from the culture around them. If we never stop and examine our worldview, we will still have one, but it may not be the right one” (Stonestreet and Kunkle). Where are your children catching their worldview?
- Stan and Cheryl Schuermann, Raising Kids for Tomorrow’s World: 12 Keys to Preserving the Faith
- John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle, A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World (David C. Cook, 2017)
- Albert Mohler provides a daily analysis of current events from a Christian worldview called The Briefing. See albertmohler.com /the-briefing.
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