How do we teach our children that Jesus is the Truth in an Age of Relativism?
Updated: Jan 5, 2021
I love learning about people’s beliefs. When you chat to someone about their thoughts on the origin and meaning of life, it gives you an insight into what drives them, what they live for, what hopes they may or may not have, and how you can try to relate to them. We tend to call this a ‘worldview’, and everyone has one. It’s the set of lenses by which we each view life and how we live it.
The Christian worldview is entirely based on who Jesus is, and consequently, who we are in him. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Jesus was claiming that he was the only Truth out there, the only Way by which we may freely approach our Creator, and the only possible route to eternal life. It’s a claim that stands contrary to every other worldview out there. In secularism, there are plenty of discussions on what the truth looks like for different people. Pontius Pilate, when sentencing Jesus to crucifixion, famously asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Within secularism (including education), that question remains unanswered. Only in Christianity, do we not ask What is the truth?, but Who is the truth?, and we readily find the answer: Jesus.
For the postmodern age of relativism, particularly in the West, we come face to face with a drastically different teaching to the message of the Gospel; that there are lots of truths, and each truth is true for those that believe it. This instantly poses a problem in logic – if I believe God created the world and you believe there is no God, our beliefs can’t both logically be true. Secondly, it challenges our language when discussing how we handle this conflict of ‘truth’. We need to respect and tolerate each other’s beliefs, and toleration, in today’s culture, means you have to accept it as a truth. True tolerance, however, is the ability to value and respect another person even though you don’t think their beliefs are true. Our responsibility, therefore, is to always speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
One of the dominant worldviews within our relativist age is that of Atheism. This is treated as neutral ground with regards to education, and any other beliefs are seen as deviations from this. The problem with this approach is that Atheism isn’t neutral. Either there is a God, or there isn’t. Atheism, like Christianity, is proposing a truth heavily weighted to one side. School curriculum will be centred around this ‘neutral’ ground of atheism and other beliefs are taught in special lessons labelled as ‘Religious Education’. What message does this send to children?
In our culture, and specifically to this blog post, we are looking at what this conflict in worldviews means for our children’s education. I am sure that many of us have some idea about our philosophy of education (just a brief discussion on your feelings about types of Curriculum, independent versus mainstream schools, the nature of exams and the methods of teaching will reveal your philosophy), but I believe it’s time that we, as Christian parents and teachers, consider what our theology of education is. It’s more important than ever that we choose to have our children educated in accordance with what Scripture calls us to, knowing that they are being taught in way that does not conflict and confuse them as to Who the truth is.
It also opens up some very interesting questions that we need to be prepared to at least engage in, if not come to a full conclusion in, such as, How do I teach my child that Jesus is the only Truth without raising them to be bigoted and prejudiced? How do I equip my child to engage in these difficult conversations with other worldviews in a way that is loving and respectful? How do I train my child to value every single person as having God-given intrinsic worth whilst being able to disagree with them? If we are commanded to “Love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves” and to ‘”impress this on your children” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), how are we to educate our children so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, outworked in faith, hope and love is the building block of education? I hope that by raising these questions, Christian parents will be encouraged to think critically and Biblically about what type of education they are placing before their child. Let us all be sure of our purpose and approach to education so that it brings glory to God, and a holistic and practical understanding of faith and the cosmos to our child.