Our Fathers' Religion

Fathers’ ReligionMost of us are terrified that one or more of our children will, someday, reject the Faith. We live in fear that our kids might wake up one day and reject our beliefs. They may, over a period of time, drift away from what we know and love and what we taught them to eventually have nothing in common with us religiously.

We’re scared of that, right? We all know people in our churches — we all have close friends — whose children no longer are involved in the Christian faith and are no longer active in a Christian Community. If not you, somebody on your pew is agonizing over that every day.

How about this? What if we taught our kids in unmistakable ways as they were growing up that my religion is not my religion? I received it from my parents, who received it from their parents, who received it from their parents. The Christian faith in my family is old and deep. It belongs to me because I inherited it from them and didn’t throw it away. I have held on to that trust for my own children and am passing it down to them from their ancestors.

S. M. Hutchens, a senior editor at Touchstone journal, writes in the June 2009 edition that he’s always attempted to instill in his children that theirs is not a private faith. They don’t have possession of a faith that belongs to one man or one family or even one denomination. It’s something “ancient and universal, something infinitely weightier and worthier of consideration” than any specifics or particulars I can give them from my personal heritage or tradition.

Early on, I wanted to teach them in whatever way I could that rejecting it would not be simply a matter of casting away the tastes or idiosyncrasies or opiates or methods of control of their immediate parents, but a belief about the nature of reality, and way of life harmonious therewith, attested by many very different people over many years and under a great variety of personal circumstances, whose faith and teaching flows in our veins just as their blood does.

While my children are free to choose or reject it, they were made to understand that what they choose to take as their own, or reject, is not simply their parents’ religion, but a faith much older, in which the significance of differences and faults of each of its holders, including those of the “denominations” to which they belonged, are relativized in the march of time so that the One Great Thing to be accepted or rejected from their parentage stands out in high relief, not as my religion, or even our family religion. but the Christian faith.

I’m three hours away from a time of study and prayer with a young couple and their son. The boy wants to be baptized. The parents couldn’t be more proud. It’s probably going to happen this Sunday. What a tremendous blessing to participate with God as he saves souls and robs hell. I’ll stress to this young man that he’s being joined to an eternal family now, a legacy that transcends time and space. By God’s grace, the love of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, he’s being connected now to the story. He’s a vital part of the story. The story that’s been passed down from generation to generation for centuries.

It’s so much bigger than us. The Kingdom of God is so much bigger than me. Bigger than my family. Bigger than my particular faith tradition. Bigger than our peculiar practices and beliefs.

I wonder if our kids know that?




  1. Rob's Dad

    It’s their belief – they should own it. If we just prop them up by forcing our beliefs on them, is it any wonder they leave?

    I get the appreciation of old and deep. But are your views on biblical interpretations the same now as they were 10 years ago? Twenty? Did we always have it right?

    Are we mature enough to really explore why they leave? Not going with ancedotal evidence or what was found in other churches, but see why they are leaving Legacy?

  2. Allan

    Dude, I love you. You know I do. But you’re ignoring the point of the post to talk “issues.”

    Read it again. See that passing on the faith to our children means making it clear that it has very little to do with my particular traditions or practices. It’s not my family or my denomination. It’s not my personal heritage.

    Kids are leaving because we’re afraid to tell them the dark secret we all know, but choose to ignore: that the Faith is huge, unwieldy, uncontrollable, and mysterious. It defies our boundaries and rejects our rules.

    No, of course we don’t have all the answers. Of course we don’t have everything right. See yesterday’s brief post.

    Praise God for his marvelous grace! And may he bless our children to walk with him always in THE FAITH — not my faith, not my denomination’s faith, not my country’s faith, but THE Faith.

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