(KW): What are some of the specific challenges to Christianity?
(BA): When someone with a Ph.D. behind their name suddenly confronts a student with supposed evidence that the New Testament books were forgeries and dismisses the historicity of the Christian narrative, if that student has not been well grounded in the evidence for the historical accuracy of the accounts of Jesus’ life the odds are heavily in favor of that student dismissing their parents’ and pastor’s faith as outdated. In philosophy class when the professor appears to eloquently demonstrate how Immanuel Kant showed two hundred years ago how we can’t really know anything unless it is of the physical world, what chance does a young adult have if all they have for equipping is some Sunday School Bible stories? And when the most articulate current defenders of neo-Darwinian evolution essentially mock anybody that doesn’t agree with them it will take much more than a good feeling in your heart to keep you from being demoralized and eventually giving up on a supernatural Creator.
The frustrating thing in all of this is that there are good answers to these assertions. The problem isn’t that there aren’t answers on the same academic level as those that are challenging Christianity; there are. The problem is that so few Christians are aware of where to go to get answers.
(KW): What can we do to better prepare Christian students for these types of confrontations?
(BA): This may sound harsh, but first, get our heads out of the sand and realize that our methods for the last thirty years have resulted in five to eight out of every ten solid Christian teens abandoning their faith in some way. It’s not pretty. It’s truly a massacre, and until we face into that hard reality our teens will be the unfortunate fodder. This is not a game and no one will be benefited by pretending it isn’t happening.
Second, encourage your children to express their doubts, hard questions, and objections. Don’t suppress these and run from them. You won’t know all the answers, so be prepared to dig in yourself and spend serious time in learning. Your faith will be shaken, but if you truly trust in Christ you won’t use avoidance you will engage. There is nothing to fear. God isn’t afraid of your children’s questions so you should not be either.
Third, remember that teens are influenced by their parents’ beliefs far more than is thought. You and other adults have massive influence in their lives. They need older mature mentors who can show them how to integrate their faith and their interests in life.
Fourth, teach critical thinking skills and logic to your junior high and high schoolers. In this extremely emotive culture, students need to know how to think rather than just what to think. If young people are taught how to think and process information and critically evaluate ideas that they are presented with, they will be able to stand head and shoulders above their peers (and professors for that matter). Then ground them in why Christianity is true and matches objective reality. It’s not enough to know the basic tenants of Christianity. They must know how to defend those beliefs as objectively true in the face of attack. They need to be exposed to anti-Christian ideas in a controlled environment prior to being sent out on their own. Inoculate your children by allowing them to explain and defend their faith against opposing ideas, instead of hiding them from false philosophies until they go off to college.
Read the rest! There are two things that parents need to do. They need to connect Christian teachings and beliefs with objective evidence from hard data, such as from science and history. And they need to provide their children with experiences to acquaint them with the reality of the moral law – specifically, the importance of having moral boundaries in order to avoid hurting yourself and others.