Sunday, May 14, 2017

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]

First sentence: Pendulums swing. They never move from one extreme to the correct balance and then stop. Instead, in their quest for balance, they first swing from one extreme and then move all the way to the opposite extreme. This is just as true with ideas as it is with a physical pendulum. As Christian parents and teachers longing to pass Christianity on to our children, we understand that it is not the possession of information, no matter how much of it is possessed or how well it is known, that will make our children into godly, faithful followers of Christ. Our children must believe in and love the Lord Jesus.

Premise/plot: Are you a Christian? Are you a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle? Are you a Sunday School teacher or pastor? If you answered "yes" to any of the above, then Starr Meade's Give Them Truth is a must-read. I don't care how busy you are, or, how much you hate reading. You simply MUST make the time to read this one. The topic is too important to ignore, to push aside until later. Children grow up too fast.

Meade describes her book thusly:

  • It is a book on teaching, and it is directed to anyone—parent, grandparent, teacher, or pastor—who teaches children. I have been teaching children and teenagers for three decades (wow! how did that happen?). My teaching has been in churches, in Christian schools, and in my living room with homeschooled children. So I work exclusively with children whose families identify themselves as Christians and who attend Protestant churches. My hope in writing this book is to expose that appalling ignorance to those who are in a position to do something about it.
  • Part One makes my case: too many children from Christian homes do not know their Bibles and do not grasp Christian doctrine. Yet the possession of such knowledge is essential for everything else we desire for the spiritual lives of children.
  • Part Two showcases basic Christian doctrines children should grow up learning, providing some hints on ways we can communicate these things to our children and pointing out some of the clashes that occur between these teachings and the ideas of the culture our children will inhabit.
  • Part Three details some specifics for teaching our children: first, general principles, then specific Bible content, and finally, doctrinal truths. As an acknowledgment that there is more to the Christian training of children than simply imparting information, the book concludes with a list of added resources. Some of the resources will help with the studying and teaching that is urged in this book; other resources will help with additional aspects of raising children so that we point them to Christ as they grow. 
  • I’m calling for children to know the overall organization of the whole Bible, the big picture of the history it recounts, at least the important stories of all its main characters, and how the people and places and events of one Bible era relate to those of other eras. I want them to have a comfortable familiarity with basic Bible themes and to know definitions for concepts that are critical in understanding Christian doctrine. I desire to see them growing steadily in their ability to articulate these things. 

My thoughts: I reread this one this past week. I desperately needed to soak in the glorious TRUTH after muddying my mind with Madeleine L'Engle's horrid And It Was Good and A Stone for a Pillow. If L'Engle's theology is poisonous, then Starr Meade's is the antidote--the cure. Unlike L'Engle's theology which sprung largely from her imagination, Starr Meade's theology comes from the Bible itself, perhaps with a tiny dose of the creeds and catechisms.

As I said in my previous review, I love, love, love, LOVE this one.

My 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 do for subjects like math or grammar.
  • 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.
  • Children need to grow up with the understanding that, at its very core, Christianity consists of truth—objective, outside-of-me, whetherI-believe-it-or-not truth. While Christianity is more than just a set of correct beliefs, it certainly begins there. 
  • Error comes in when only parts of the truth are studied or only some truths are cherished.
  • The Bible is not just preferred teachings for Christians. The Bible is what God said, put into writing. He whose creatures we are and who, therefore, defines all things and makes all rules, has spoken. Our only legitimate response is to hear, accept, believe, and obey. Whenever we understand truth one way, then learn that the Bible teaches something different, it is our understanding we must correct, and the Bible’s assertion we must embrace. Our children must grow up seeing us set aside our own opinions whenever those opinions bump up against the Bible’s teaching in disagreement. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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