Preparing Young Christians to Understand the Truth

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There’s a new resource available for those of us who struggle to respond to the lies told by our culture. Even though some of these lies may sound harmless, they threaten the truth of Christianity, especially when consumed uncritically by young believers. Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies is a “mom-to-mom” guide that will equip you to teach your kids how to form their own biblical beliefs about what is true and what is false. I recently had an opportunity to discuss the book with its editor, Hillary Morgan Ferrer.

J. Warner:
Hillary, tell my readers a little about yourself and some of the contributors you have on this book.

Hillary:
I started Mama Bear Apologetics back in 2015. At your prompting actually! I don’t know if you remember the conversation we had over the speaker’s lunch at the Pantego Christian Academy apologetics conference, but that was the first time I had ever mentioned this wacky idea for a non-mom to write to moms. I’ll never forget you looking at me directly as we exited the room and saying “Hillary, you have to do this now. You can’t wait until you graduate.” So, I did!

We have quite a group! Between the 7 of us, we’ve got moms of boys, moms of girls, a non-mom, academics, non-academics, independent authors, a few biology nerds (represent!), women who have been in professional ministry, a former CCM recording artist, and ex-NASA engineer, so we cover the gamut of experiences!

J. Warner:
What was your initial reason for writing the book?

Hillary:
At the end of the day, we wanted something that wasn’t currently on the market, especially for moms.  Many apologetics resources focus on straight-up evidence for the historical Christianity, which is important. I recommend your books all the time to people. Or, they focus on specific questions (also important). What we wanted to do with this book was identify where the questions were coming from and start there. We took a close look at culture, at politics, at current events, at education, and tried to identify the main issues that we saw leading kids astray in their faith. I had some ideas already sketched out which reflect the book we have now. But working together with the seven of us, we were able to better hone and prune the ideas down into a manageable list of lies that we saw being fed to our kids through the media.

J. Warner:
What is a “Mama Bear Apologist”?

Hillary:
Chapter two is dedicated exclusively to this question. Our website says that a Mama Bear can be a mom of biological, adopted, foster, or spiritual children. You look at little girls who love playing with dolls and it doesn’t take long to realize that the mom-instinct is there pretty early on. A Mama Bear is a woman who will rise up and perform feats that she would have never thought possible because she sees her children being threatened in some ways. We’ve all heard about the mothers (and sometimes grandmothers) who are able to suddenly lift a car off their child who is trapped. A Mama Bear Apologist is a woman who realizes that bad ideas can crush her child’s faith, which can actually be worse than a physical injury. This doesn’t mean we shelter kids from controversial ideas. That’s actually the opposite of what we are trying to do. Rather, it’s ideas that are absorbed uncritically that are dangerous. We should be the ones exposing our children to opposing ideas and then showing them how to sift through the parts that are good and biblical and the parts that aren’t. We call it the “chew and spit” method in the book.

J. Warner:
What do you think are the unique features of Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies? How did you decide which topics to cover?

Hillary:
I think this book is unique is several ways. First off, there is not another apologetics book on the market that is geared just to moms. It is so unheard of that people keep asking me what age group this book is for, assuming it’s for kids. When I say it’s for the moms, I get blank stares. Apparently, some people don’t even have a mental category for an apologetics book for moms.

Secondly, as far as I know, we are one of the few books that prioritizes prayer alongside the information. At the end of each “ism” chapter, Julie Loos charted out the ideas and then crafted a “P.A.W.S. for Prayer” section to help moms pray these concepts over their children.

Also, for a compilation book, it is incredibly cohesive. Each chapter follows a similar format of explaining the history of the idea, and then has a ROAR section. ROAR stands for 1) Recognize the message 2) Offer discernment 3) Argue for a healthier approach and 4) Reinforce through discussion discipleship and prayer. Though the book has different voices, it feels very cohesive instead of like a collection of separate essays. That was a goal from day one.

As to which topics to include, we started out with a pretty long list. I had already brainstormed on some of the main ones, and then Rebekah, Julie, Alisa, Hillary Short, and I had several skype sessions really hammering out which topics overlapped, and which ones didn’t seem to fit with the others. We wanted to address the craziness that we saw going on in the world right now and boil it down to the main bad ideas that were being swallowed uncritically by kids, and especially which ideas were targeting kids through the media. Midway through the book though, we had to scrap one of our chapters to make room for the Marxism chapter. That was a surprise! It would have felt negligent not to, based on the research we were coming across.

J. Warner:
In one of your chapters, you cover the issue of “Self-Helpism” as one of the lies culture tells kids. Can you tell us how that lie impacts young people?

Hillary:
This chapter actually dovetails quite a lot with Progressive Christianity and New Spirituality. All three of these chapters describe a form of pseudo-Christian religiosity, but completely remove the gospel message of sin, repentance, and salvation. Some people might be familiar with the phrase “moralistic therapeutic deism” which is essentially what we are addressing in the self-helpism chapter, but that was a bit of a mouthful, so we stuck with self-helpism.

Instead of the gospel of sin and repentance, culture is telling our kids that the path towards sanctification lies not in submission to Christ, but rather a whole schmear of psychological tips and tricks. It’s like a mixture of ancient Gnosticism and pop-psychology sprinkled with Christianese. Kids get the idea the God is basically a therapist in the sky trying to help them become the best version of themselves. It’s a works-based salvation that gets the individual to focus on self and not Christ. Ultimately, it is a different gospel.

J. Warner:
In another chapter, you cover “New Spirituality”. What forms of “new spirituality” do young people most commonly face?

Hillary:
The phrase, “I’m not religious. I’m spiritual” is becoming ever more popular, even in Christian circles. New Spirituality is basically new age principles cloaked in Christian lingo. Lack of discernment is reaching epidemic proportions in our society. Biblical literacy is at an all-time low. Name drop Jesus or quote a verse and people assume that what they are imbibing is “Christian.” They open their minds like baby birds opens their mouths and swallow anything that sounds remotely Christian. New Spirituality reveres Jesus… but it equally reveres Buddha. That’s a problem. New Spirituality is like the melting pot of religions. A little Christianity, a little Buddhism, a little Hinduism, mix in some transcendental meditation and eastern mysticism and you have a cocktail that looks nothing like orthodox Christianity. But because New Spirituality uses some of the same language as the Bible and speaks favorably about Jesus, many kids (and even adults) can’t tell the difference.

J. Warner:
How would you like to see parents use your book?

Hillary:
I am already seeing amazing things happening with this book! I have women spontaneously forming groups and sending me pictures. It is awesome. I have heard testimonies from women who had always thought apologetics was “too academic” for them, but that this book was easy to understand. They are taking it upon themselves to contact their churches, their homeschool coops, friends, and family and are advocating for the importance of this book. I couldn’t ask for a better reception.

Ultimately, I’d love to see more and more moms getting together to read and discuss these concepts. The world is full of the lies we discuss in the book. All you have to do is have your eyes opened, and even a craft show can lead to worldview discussions with your kids. (There is all sorts of pinteresty nonsense printed on stuff at art festivals.) Ultimately, I want to see moms, parents, and grandparents have the words to discuss the mayhem they have already noticed in the world. I don’t think the problem is that parents haven’t noticed. I think the problem is that they haven’t had the words to describe it or discuss it. I hope this book truly is empowering to parents who realize that they don’t have to memorize a lot of facts to do apologetics. The world is an endless supply of teachable moments all of which fortify the truths we find in Scripture.

Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies will help you analyze truth claims and share them with your kids. Also, be sure to follow the writers and bloggers at the Mama Bear Apologetics Website.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case ChristianityGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

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