Don’t be Superficial when Children Ask Tough Bible Questions

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Having a superficial faith becomes evident when called upon to teach children in Sunday School. I don’t mean to suggest that to be a Sunday School teacher you must know everything. That’s unrealistic. 

What happens when a young child asks a probing Bible question, and you don’t know the biblical answer?

I Don’t Know the Answer!

However, what happens when a young child asks a probing Bible question, and you don’t know the biblical answer? We must go beyond our lack or knowledge or faith. Instead of faking it and trying to put on the outward appearance that we know the answers, we must dig deeper.

Imagine a young child in her teens in a Christian school. Imagine a young man in “Sunday School” at church. Imagine them asking real questions such as “Why can’t I see God?” or “In the Bible, Jesus keeps referring to God as His father. But you say God and Jesus are the same thing. How is that possible?” or “Why would God take my younger brother away in that car accident?”, etc…

Eternal Impact of Your Answers

How we answer these questions can have a profound impact on the future spirituality (or superficial faith) of those impressionable children.

We have two choices when kids ask these questions:

  1. We can attempt to explain as best we can these mysteries, doing some real research and soul searching ourselves so we can thoughtfully respond. We can take these children seriously as honest seekers who just want honest answers. We can expose them to a greater understanding of the fullness and complexity of God by digging deeper into the Bible with them.
  2. We can be smug and tell them to stop asking questions and to just take it on faith; just believe. We could scold them for being a class disruptor. We could ridicule them and make them feel silly or stupid for asking questions. We could even punish them for having the audacity to question the teacher or to question God or the Bible.

Now, I hope you are equally shocked by even the possibility of responding the 2nd way as I am. You may even be saying, “Does that really happen? Are you serious?” I am!

Many non-believers started out as Christian children and they had questions. Poorly answered questions or rebuke led to their lack of belief.

Many Atheists are Former Curious Christians

I’ve encountered MANY atheists, agnostics, or non-believers who started out as Christian children…going to Sunday School, Catholic school, or a private Christian school of some sort. They had questions…lots of them. How questions were answered, in many ways, increased their superficiality and led to their lack of belief.

There are people who can hear a simple truth and believe it without needing to dig much deeper. Jesus referred to this as having the faith of a child (Mark 10:15).

Mark 10:13-15 (NIV)

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

I’m not suggesting that people who believe like a child are somehow fake or have a superficial faith. They may just be more in touch with and willing to accept God’s truth. If they don’t seek to learn more and test their beliefs, I think it can lead to a skin-deep faith that can and should be avoided.

Some People Need Intellectual Answers

Then there are people, much like me, who require more intellectual responses. We don’t just WANT to understand. We NEED to understand. Having a superficial belief is not an option for us.

So, how do you respond to intellectually skeptical children…especially when they are young, confused, questioning…and yet still open?

Seekers Deserve Reasoned Responses

Again, we have two choices. I urge you to choose #1. Treat them like true seekers that are important enough for us to give a reasoned response, regardless of their age. If you don’t know the answer, tell them so. Work WITH them to find the answers. This way you will both develop a reasonable faith.

Here is what happens when you rebuke a child with questions:

Here is a quote from author Stephanie D. Norris about her book called “Crisis of Religion”:
I could distinctly remember that as a little child (1st or 2nd grade), I instigated some probing questions into a couple Biblical issues that hoisted conflicting contradictions in my head. Instead of my Sunday school teacher answering my questions, and addressing my deep concerns, he conversely scolded me, hauling my rational queries over the coal. He then admonished me to desist from asking such probing questions anymore, but to just believe and accept whatever the church told me.

“My teacher grabbed me and shook me while telling me I would go to hell if I didn’t stop making trouble by asking questions in catechism class.”

Another Atheist Quote

Here is another quote from a conversation I had with another Atheist:
When I was 12, the nun who was my teacher grabbed me and shook me while telling me I would go to hell if I didn’t stop making trouble by asking questions in catechism class.

The result is skepticism and disbelief…superficial faith. The result, more often than not, is a lost soul.

Don’t Fear Questions

Here is the bottom line: We don’t need to fear questions. We don’t need to be ashamed or embarrassed when we don’t know the answer. There ARE answers for many of these questions…you must find the answers.

  • We MUST NOT reject the person asking the questions (regardless of age).
  • We MUST NOT ask these types of students to believe on faith…when they need more.
  • We MUST NOT tell them to be quiet and just behave.

These children require special attention…yes MORE than you may have bargained for. It might require you finding answers yourself to questions you’ve never thought to ask. It might require a greater sacrifice of your time to invest in the lives of these special children (who God loves) to truly Disciple them…and teach them.

Teaching is a BIG Responsibility

Being a teacher of children is serious business. How you respond to difficult questions can lead to a lost soul, or to an eternal blessing for generations to come. It’s your choice. Choose wisely.

Where to find answers? Google “Christian or Bible answers” and you will find many sources. Here is one source I found:

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  1. says

    “Many Atheists are Former Curious Christians” No they are not. Maybe they are make-believers, but we do not have the ability to revoke the salvation that God gives us. We have nothing to do with our salvation… it is because of God’s grace alone that we are saved. You seem to think that we can come in and out of salvation or “Christianity” as we please… completely unbiblical and a common belief of the emergent church. CFC Response: And so you miss the entire point of this article, which is how to respond to people who are seekers or possibly “saved” Christians who still have doubts or questions they are wrestling with. They may be on the fence, and intellectual questions are hindering their ability to give their heart to Christ. I believe like you (and the Bible), that once you have been saved, you can’t lose it, but we didn’t earn it in the first place. Use of the term “Christian” in the sentence you are critiquing is meant to mean those who are going to Christian Sunday school, a Christian school, in a Christian small-group or class, etc. I could have said “Many Atheists are Former Curious Christians people that are children of Christians, studying Christianity with a sincere desire to know more about Christianity”. If you take the term Christian in it’s strictest use to mean only truly saved, truly filled with the Holy Spirit, truly living in complete subordination to Jesus Christ…”Christians”, then I’d have to estimate that instead of 2.1 billion Christians in the world, there are probably more like 100,000 true Christians, and that may be generous.

  2. says

    I am an atheist who is a former curious Christian–not just a child of Christians, but a dedicated, adult Christian. I’ve heard of quite a few others as well. I’ve wondered for many years how a “true Christian” can be identified. There seem to be as many different definitions as there are people who try to define the term.

  3. Kasey says

    I heard a sermon that spoke about the faith of our own children once. It suggested that even though we may sit with our children and pray the prayer of asking Christ into their hearts, that they may actually not be saved because they are either too young to understand this decision fully, or that they might just be doing it to please their parents. True acceptance of Christ is always a truth only known by you and Christ. So the fact that many claim to be Christians, is just a label really. But many will be disappointed when they hear Jesus say, “I knew you not.” The point here, is this: If I take the responsibility to teach someone’s children, heaven forbid I tell them to “JUST BELIEVE” because I was not responsible enough to go deeper with them, or even MISLEAD them by placing a stumbling block before them. (Mt 18:5-6) It matters not whether they truly were a Christian or not, actually!

  4. kevin bianchi says

    In reading this, I was actually inspired to know there were people out there who understood where I was coming from as a child. I WAS Christian. I still do have great love for Jesus and his teachings. I can’t say the same for Christians. Most Christians I know are spend their time hiding their bigotry and intolerance of anything different from themselves behind a faith where love is supposed to be the rule and not the exception. Judgement is not for us but for God yes? Yet I see judgement on everything from homosexuality, other religions, interracial dating, and condemnation to open racism. Jesus was about Love and I rarely see it in “Christians” of today. I asked the tough questions as a child and got smiles whilst being told friends are going to hell and that I was a bastard for being both black and white and adopted. A product of sin. No teacher of anything should say these things.I cannot and will not believe Christ would condone this sort of behavior or thought and if He did, then He is not for me and none of this matters. I remember thinking finally in High school after a Teens for Christ session, that God wants this or God wants that. People rationalize things in their minds instead of taking responsibility for the free will given to us. People are spewing all the time that about what God wants or thinks, but when asked why my mother died I am met with silence at best and “God needs her” at worst. No real answer or even comfort. The fact is that no one knows what God wants. Everyone interprets the bible differently. Obviously people don’t kill each other over working on Sunday or eating meat on that day or children lipping off to their parents. It wasn’t meant for that. The only thing I have to hold onto is the feeling of Jesus in my heart and that heart tells me love and acceptance and working together is better than hatred and judgement. Who wants to believe in a God that would choose one race over another? Condemn the creations he’s made, or not care for the life of the world he created? I should have liked to have teachers that were ok with big questions, and who don’t throw up meaningless drivel against the very scientific achievements they take for granted everyday. “Without the voice of reason, every faith is it’s on curse.” Having faith and hope is hard when all you have to hope for is some petty perversion of God that condones everything from male domination, racism, homophobia and violence to genocide. So Thank you for a little hope this evening. I needed it.

    • brian gajgic says

      well if you believe the bible your mother could have called on Jesus when she was dieing this world is not God”s yet it is the devils for a short time. But you asked what does God want? He wants a relationship with you as a child He created adam for the purpose of having a friend now since sin enterd the world we are not home this world and the heavens will be changed into perfection .

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