Sunday, May 3, 2015

Book Review: Give Them Truth

Give Them Truth: Teaching Eternal Truths to Young Minds. Starr Meade. 2015. P&R Publishing. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I loved, loved, loved Give Them Truth. It's a true must read, in my opinion. Yes, I know parents can be busy--really busy--and, that not every parent or every believer likes to read in the first place. But exceptions should be made some of the time. And the message of Give Them Truth is too important to brush aside. What is the message? Parents need to actively, deliberately teach their children the Christian faith. Fill their minds with knowledge about God and about the Bible.
When it comes to imparting a thorough familiarity with the riches of Christian doctrine or of in-depth Bible knowledge to children, most of us are surprisingly laid-back. We make sure our children attend church and perhaps a children's class once a week, and we read them a Bible story every now and then, and we seem to think they will get the rest of what they need on their own. The foolishness of such an approach becomes apparent when we imagine teaching reading or math in so haphazard a way. We insist that children study those subjects daily. We make sure that capable teachers follow a plan for increasing children's knowledge incrementally. We require children to drill and to exercise their new skills on a regular basis. Why do we think that learning the most profound content that exists does not require similar diligence? Why do we think that the knowledge essential for living life to the fullest, knowledge that is, in fact, a matter of life and death itself, deserves less of a commitment of time and energy?
My hope in writing this book is to expose that appalling ignorance to those who are in a position to do something about it. 
Give Them Truth is divided into three sections. The first section focuses on WHY our children need to know. Why take the time? why make the effort? Your life is busy enough, right? So Starr Meade's argument is concise and straight to the point. In these chapters, Meade urges parents to become more involved in educating their children and instructing them in faith matters. One reason--out of many--is that a strong foundation is needed: a foundation not just for right now, but for their whole lives. If you've been persuaded by the first section--the why--these final two sections are of great importance.

The second section focuses on WHAT children need to know. What truths do children need to be taught? Chapters include: "God: The Father, Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth," "God: As He Is, Not God As We Want Him To Be," "Scripture: What is Truth?," "Humanity: What a Piece of Work is Man!," "Jesus Christ: But Who Do You Say That I Am?", "Salvation: What Must I do To Be Saved?", "The Church: At Home in the Household of God," "God's Law: Walking in the Truth." Is this section the heart of the book? Perhaps for it focuses on the content of the Bible, the content of vital church doctrines. These intellectual facts are essential in building a strong foundation.

The third section focuses on HOW to help our children know. This last section is perhaps the most practical. How can parents begin to instruct their children? What practical steps or guidelines should be followed to begin the journey? She encourages readers. You do not have to be an expert theologian or a master of the Bible. You don't have to know all this stuff already. Learn as you go. Learn it so that you can pass it along. Take the opportunity to learn with your children. It's never too late to learn, to grow. And learning it well enough to teach it, well, that could be a great thing for your own spiritual journey.

I loved many things about Give Them Truth. I did. But what I loved most was how accessible it was. Each paragraph or section of text concludes with bullet point summaries. For example, here are some bullet points from the "what to know" section.

  • God is the Creator of all that is.
  • Understanding that God is the Creator provides the foundation for understanding every other aspect of life. 
  • There is only one God.
  • God exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • God is outside creation.
  • God is greater than anything he has created.
  • God is far greater than our minds can grasp.
  • God is spirit.
  • God is in all places at all times.
  • God sees all things that take place.
  • God will call every action to judgment at the right time.
  • God knows everything--everything that is, that has been, that will be, that could be.
  • God possesses all wisdom.
  • He has the best possible goal for all things--his own glory--and uses the best possible means to attain that goal.
  • God possesses all power.
  • God is the highest ruler over all. 
  • God rules his creation. It all does his will. 
  • God rules in providence (all the ordinary--and extraordinary--things that happen every day).
  • God is holy. He is perfectly good and righteous.
  • God requires holiness from his people.
  • God gives laws to humans. 
  • God will judge all men by his holy laws. 
  • God loves his people.
  • God shows grace to his people, giving them what they do not deserve.
  • God gave his Son out of love for his people.
  • God is eternal, with no beginning and no end. 
  • There are things that are true, always and everywhere.
  • Truth does not change.
  • Truth is true for everyone--even for those who do not believe it.
  • Believing only has value when the thing believed in is true.
  • Believing what is not true is dangerous.
  • Christianity is made up of truths to be believed.

 Favorite quotes:
To the degree that our children do not know the fullness of God's Word, to that degree they will not know God as fully as he wills to be known.
Our children cannot apply Scripture without knowing what it says. They cannot love Christ without knowing who he is. They can't obey God without knowing what he has commanded. And they will not know these things if we do not provide deliberate, thorough, rigorous instruction, just as we would for subjects like math or grammar. 
The good we hope for our children may occur. But we can give them no other world to live in than this fallen one. Our children's environment, no matter what their home address is, will be horribly marred by sin and its results. They will have great sorrows and struggles, sooner or later. Will they be ready?
There are set and specific truths that comprise the Christian faith, and for something to be Christian, it must embrace those truths. Conversely, there are limits and parameters… Christianity is, first of all, a body of truth--to be known, understood, embraced, applied, and passed on. "Spiritual" ideas and feelings, divorced from that body of truth, are not Christian, no matter what those who have them say. Our children must know, first of all, the body of truth taught by Jesus, built upon and communicated by the apostles, and passed down in the church through centuries. Without that body of truth, they do not have Christianity. 
Knowing God, as he has revealed himself in Scripture, is fully relevant, fully practical, for all of life. To live without knowing this God is to live without God. There is no other. On the other hand, to possess a sound knowledge of God's character is to be grounded on the surest foundation possible on which to build a human life. When our children know God's attributes, first in their minds as objective fact, then in their hearts as deeply felt assurance, they will be prepared for the worst--for for the best--that life can throw at them. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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