“Is melted ice cream just milk?”
“Why does violet get its own color when it’s just like purple?”
“Who decided which one was the Big Dipper and which one was the Little Dipper?”
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve declared, “Ok, no more questions, please, thank you!” Children are relentless. Their thirst for knowledge is a bucket with a hole in it, and my spout has runneth dry plenty of times.
So in a world where it’s our job as Christian parents to help our children be able to understand and defend our faith if need be, how do you help them have faith in the very book our faith is based on, the Bible?
Well, first is to answer their questions—to help them sift through the mainstream Christian references they’re bombarded with and to help them develop their filter for Biblical truth. Does that mean you know the answer right away? No! Big no.
Helping them discover the answers to their questions and knowing the answer the moment they ask are not the same thing. Did you KNOW what to do the first time they had a diaper rash? No, you researched—you asked your mother. Well, when you experience this part of your parenting journey, as your children begin to ask questions of their faith, let’s do the same level of research together.
QUESTION #1: Hollywood and the Bible
“Ok I know what happened, but how do we know Moses did THAT part?” (While watching DreamWorks’ Prince of Egypt—side note, amaaazing soundtrack.)
My seven-year-old has a big imagination and understands, in theory, creative license. From the time she figured out what speech bubbles were, she’s been putting words into people’s mouths.
How do you balance creative license and the adaptation of historical texts? Let me tell you—it’s not easy. So complicated in fact, there are even college degrees about it (#GoPanthers! @ChapmanUniversity #Classof2012). We learned the art of adaptation, to craft the kernels of truth buried in characters, and how to put words into the mouths of the greats. Even Moses.
So this was probably the easiest of all questions to answer: Hollywood just makes it up! They do not care that they are adding themselves to the discourse of the Bible as literature and the Bible as modern media (Would they even know what that means?). They do not care if they distort Bible history and perpetuate pop culture’s historical inaccuracies (blonde Jesus, anyone?).
Which leads to . . .
QUESTION #2: Proof the bible is real
“Why is it different in this one?” (Why are some stories different depending on which Bible storybook you pick up or which version of a film you watch?).
We got to the story about the resurrection in this Bible storybook, one of the many interpretations available at any bookstore or library. The resurrection story was presented only in the context of Easter. It actually didn’t contain the word “resurrection,” or “risen”—it went straight from Jesus’ death on the cross to “and this is why we celebrate Easter.” WHOA! Hold on, folks.
If you are someone who celebrates Easter you might be thinking to yourself “Oh that’s great—throwing in a holiday we actually celebrate into the mix is proof the Bible is real.” Sorry to burst your bubble, but celebrating Easter says more about you than it does about the accuracies of the Bible. Perpetuating holidays, that incorporate pagan tradition, are not based on the Bible, and are not taught by Christ’s Church actually destroys the validity of the Bible in your child’s eyes.
PARENTAL WARNING then: read your Bible story books before you read them to your children. Make sure everything featured in there, including pronouns, aligns with your faith.
QUESTION #3: The historical reliability of the Bible
“Are these all just stories, like the parables that Jesus taught?” (Extra points for your kid knowing what “parables” are!)
According to Merriam-Webster, a parable is usually a short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle. So, what if the entire Bible is nothing but a series of parables? What if Jesus’ life is a big parable? An important one, one that brings peace and joy to billions—but, fictitious still?
This is where the historical reliability of the Bible comes into play. This is where we, as Christian parents, can stand our ground academically. The authors of the Bible did not have Google. They did not have any way to know, for example, that there was an active synagogue in Athens in the 1st century if, in fact, Apostle Paul hadn’t traveled there himself and seen it with his own eyes (and then the fact landed in a side comment in the book of the Acts of the Apostles 17:17).
Archaeologists such as Dr. Nelson Glueck have been arguing (successfully, I believe) that “no archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference” (Glueck, Rivers in the Desert, 1959). This might be too high-brow for the preschoolers, I get it. But have you ever heard the phrase, “If they lied about the little things, they’ll lie about the big things”? Well, the authors of the Bible didn’t lie about the little things—the science of archaeology is continuously proving that.
So yes, the stories of the Bible most definitely share attributes with simple parables—they illustrate moral attitudes and strengthen religious principles. And yes, as Christians we believe they are entirely real—from David & Goliath, to God sending an angel to Mary.
Do the questions ever stop?
I hope not! As our children grow in their faith I only hope they keep asking hard questions. And if they ever ask questions that I don’t know the answer to right away—wow, how proud will I be! To know they are traveling deeper, thinking more broadly, being challenged in ways I never was—a parent can only hope.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS: This blog was by Naomi De La Cruz with Biblical support by Joe Velasquez, a minister of the gospel of the Church Of Christ.
Joe Velasquez has been an ordained minister in the Church Of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo) for over 4 years.