Dicipleship for Parents Faith

Developing Reasoning To Defend The Faith

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I recently sat with a wonderful Godly woman, a missionary, who shared with me her personal heartache of her daughter, who’s faith had been ‘reasoned’ to a point where she was seriously questioning her personal faith!

This is a young lady who grew up in a family that were faithfully living out their calling in the mission field. Who as a young girl posted scripture all over her walls and had a vibrant and living relationship with her Savior  What happened? How can such a crisis befall someone who appeared to be so strong in her faith.

The story played out in University. A place that has all sorts of liberal and ‘free thinking’ ways. A place where intelligence, IQ and philosophy and reasoning are all mini-gods. This dear mother admitted to wishing that they had taught their daughter how to defend her faith – aka ‘Apologetics’.

This conversation has been abiding in my heart and mind for a few weeks now. I’m not sure what the future holds education-wise for my girls, but I know that I want them to be equipped to defend their faith, to defend their very souls, for there is a tide of opinion out there that is armed and waiting to attack the Christian faith, and they can sound pretty convincing!

18. The way of reason: We teach children, too, not to ‘lean (too confidently) to their own understanding’; because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth, (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case, reason is, practically, an infallible guide, but in the latter, it is not always a safe one; for, whether that idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs. – Charlotte Mason


Have you ever watched a courtroom drama being played out on television? When you hear advocate ‘A’ in his closing statement you are convinced that the accused is guilty. Then advocate ‘B’ steps up and you are equally convinced that he is innocent. The argument for and against both sound valid and you are left in a state of confusion. Yes, I can see how a person who has not been taught to defend their faith could quite easily begin to doubt. 

It is only when he chooses to think about some course or plan, as Eve standing before the apples, that reason comes into play; so, if he chooses to think about a purpose that is good, many excellent reasons will  hurry up to support him; but, alas, if he choose to entertain a wrong notion, he, as it were, rings the bell for reason, which enforces his wrong intention with a score of arguments proving that wrong is right.- CM Vol 6 pg 143

While reading The Way of Reason in Vol 6 Chapter 9, I was struck by how any thought can be reasoned to a point of logical acceptance. That is quite a scary notion. Immediately my mind is cast to such events in history that turned into heinous and vile acts against humanity (thinking Hitler here), and yet such things were accepted by an educated and sophisticated nation! Well-to-do people saw logic in his arguments, in his reasoning.

It is madness to let children face a debatable world with only, say, mathematical preparation. – CM Vol 6 page 147

Clearly our children need to be prepared for a ‘debatable world’. How can we go about doing this?

If our business were to train their power of reasoning, such a training would no doubt be of service; but the power is there already, and only wants material to work upon. – CM Vol 6 pg 147

Charlotte Mason tells us the children, ‘ must follow arguments and detect fallacies for themselves’ ~vol 6 pg 147. She also mentions that the discussions – not lectures or oral lessons –  we have with our children during ‘current events’ time in our morning, is a great place to exercise this skill. Our children need to reason things out, we ask leading questions to get their minds thinking – perhaps in a different direction. Could we possibly play devils advocate in order for our children to detect fallacies? 

There are many debatable issues that are facing us today. Just this week we have had two major issues, relevant to the Christian faith, pop up in the headlines. The debate about whether to allow same sex marriage is raging on in the House of Commons and The Church of Scotland has announced that gay ministers who are in a civil partnership may be called or rejected by individual congregations.

 I am sure that in future there will be many more areas where God’s Word, His decrees and Statutes are going to be given over in the name of ‘political correctness  and this is where I want my girls to know the Word, know God’s teachings and be able to defend the Faith. 

So How do we go about this?

*Bible Study – ‘Fear and reverence of the Lord is the start of all wisdom’ – Proverbs 1:7 – So when these issues come up in the news, in our ‘Current Events’, we will turn to the Word first and foremost to see what God has to say about such things.

* Logic and Critical Thinking games. Simply bring into your school day, or perhaps have a family games evening once a week/month games that reinforce logical and critical thinking. Some suggestions: Chess, Scrabble, Boggle, Monopoly, Backgammon, Scotland Yard (deduction game), Articulate (fast talking description game)… I could go on forever :o) 

There are also some great books out there. Here are some I have on my wish list.

* Don’t forget those Current Events – be sure to discuss them with your children

*Character Training. There are so many wonderful Christian resources out there. Doorposts is a great place to start. We have also enjoyed ‘Wisdom and the Millers’ by Mildred Martin – available from Amazon or Rod and Staff.

As my girls get older, I will be on the lookout for some great Apologetics resources. {If anyone has used anything for their teens I would love to know, please do leave a comments.}

I am so glad that I read this chapter of Miss masons work – there is still so much to learn and so much to think on. I think that this is going to be one of those chapters that requires more than one reading! I  look forward to reading what others have to say on The Way of The Reason in this weeks Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival.

If you would like to contribute or find out more about the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival, please visit here.

(8) Comments

  1. The Winding Ascent says:

    This was an important blog post for me, Shirley. My daughter experienced something similar when she begged to go to public high school and we relented and let her go. She ended up pregnant at age 17. She is still a believer but has a different perspective than before — pro-gay rights and very intellectual. The hard truth is that we DID do lots of apologetics in our homeschool. I hope that doesn't discourage. I think some children are just more easily impressed by outside sources, more attuned to being popular because of self-esteem issues and thus more easily convinced to abandon a life of faith in order to achieve popularity, and just need to see for themselves rather than accept their parents' guidance as truth. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. In the end, she came back to me and said, "Mama, everything you taught me was right. Absolutely all of it!" We cherish our grandchildren dearly, and she is now happily married and plans to homeschool. But what a rocky road we traveled together to get here.

    For Apologetics, we used The Truth Project, How Should We Then Live, and various dvd and cd sets from Southern Evangelical Seminary. We came from a small, tight-knit church environment in Virginia to North Carolina, where we have struggled to find a church home where we fit. That may have contributed to our difficulties. Thanks for such an insightful post about reason!

    Megan

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Hi Megan,

      Thank you for this comment. I agree that some children are more easily convinced to abandon a life of faith in order to attain popularity. I certainly have one child that is more easily impressed than the other and therefore more vulnerable. Although we can help develop reason and train in Apologetics, the truth is that the best and most powerful think we can do is get down on our knees and pray, pray, pray! There are certainly no guarantees in parenthood, and that is what makes it so scary I think. None of us want our children to fail or hurt or have regrets, but the truth is that in this harsh world our children will have to learn painful lessons.

      I am really glad to hear how your daughter is now happily married and that her life is back on track. Thank you for sharing your account with me and with readers of this blog. May God continue to bless you and keep you all.

      hugs,
      Shirley

  2. walking says:

    I think the other vital thing to know is that reason is a servant and not the master (the will). Once the will chooses a side, the reason steps into back it up. There are always pros and cons to everything. College is an institution that seems to prize reason over will. I wonder if recognizing that reason can take a person almost anywhere when it comes to the big questions of life.

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Two excellent points here! I think it is vital for everyone to acknowledge that reason can take a person almost anywhere and vital to know that reason is a servant. Thank you so much for your insights.

  3. Amanda says:

    I really like this post and its comments! I don't have children yet but the Lord has already called us to homeschool when the time comes so I am taking it in like a sponge. I have found this online infographic very helpful and interesting as I expand my own "grown up" mind: http://visualdatahub.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/infographic-logical-fallacies/

    Also, the writings of CS Lewis have helped me defend my faith to myself and others in different situations and I think with some of his quotes in your head you will be able to more easily shepherd your girls.

    Lastly, I am glad that you discuss current events. I know some HS families that avoid it altogether and I can feel myself introverting (is that a word) as I grow older. I have a PR degree and studied news broadcasting and now I am completely turned off by news media so I stick my head in the sand.

    Very interesting in many ways.

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Hi Amanda,
      There have certainly been some great insights to this post – I'm loving the input too! I can't wait to read the Charlotte Mason Carnival on this subject!

      It is so easy to go 'micro' as I call it. It is easier to just shut out the world and exist in our own safe zone. This is easier done when you have complete control over your little ones, but as they grow you begin to feel that you need to equip them rather than shelter them. After all – we are raising children to be salt and light – their God-given design.

      Whenever I feel that the world is just too awful, I remember Paul's 2nd letter to Timothy. He describes the end times (times I might add that they were also living through at the time of writing that letter. There was SUCH persecution of Christians and life was certainly harder than it is now). As I read his words to Timothy I am comforted, because it shows that even though the world is such a mess – God is still in control. This is all part of the Masters plan. And in the end… He has the victory – AMEN!

      May your homeschool journey to-be, be a blessing to you and to your future Kingdom children!

      X Shirley Ann

  4. Carol says:

    Interesting discussion pompted by your post,Shirley. I think having a good spiritual home is a huge help here. Our older children have a solid core of good Christian friends, most going through university at the same time, but we helped make it happen by choosing to put down roots in an imperfect church. I think homeschoolers (from some of my observations) can get isolated and this doesn't help our children later on. Megan mentioned How Should we Then Live – I found this helped my thinking, which in turn helped me speak into different areas as we encountered them.

  5. Judith says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful post and with such sweet pictures. How sad about your friend's daughter. That is happening in too many families that I know who are the godly of the godliest and yet one or more of their children have broken their hearts by turning away from the God they were raised to love. God has no grandchildren and we all must choose whom we will serve. I don't understand why this is happening…we need to pray fervently for these young people.

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