Investing in the Faith of the Future

She’s perky, pretty and precocious. She’s smart and full of life. And best of all, she calls me “Boppa.”

I make a living by stringing words together, but I don’t have the vocabulary to express how much I love my two-year-old granddaughter, Abby.

Yet I know Jesus loves her even more. And I can’t wait for Abby to meet Him. Already, God is a recurring topic of conversation when Abby and her parents stop by our house.

Abby sniffs the roses in our yard, and we extol to her the wonders of God’s creation. As she awkwardly guides a spoonful of food into her mouth, we tell her how God provides for her needs day by day.

Abby has reminded me once more about the vital importance of reaching our own children with the Gospel. In a disturbing development, however, a new breed of militant atheists is challenging the legitimacy of Christians imparting faith to their families.

“Atheist educators are now questioning whether parents should have control over what their children learn,” warns Dinesh D’Souza in his new book What’s So Great About Christianity? (Regnery).

For example, atheist Richard Dawkins has decried “bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods,” like the existence of God. “How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents?” he asks in a November 2006 interview with Wired magazine. “Should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in?”

Atheist Daniel Dennett, author of Breaking the Spell (Penguin) seems to think so. “Parents don’t literally own their own children the way slaveowners once owned slaves … and ought to be held accountable by outsiders for their guardianship, which does imply that outsiders have a right to interfere,” he says.

In fact, according to psychologist Nicholas Humphrey’s 1997 Oxford Amnesty Lecture, “Parents have no god-given license to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally choose: no right to limit the horizons of their children’s knowledge, to bring them up in an atmosphere of dogma and superstition, or insist they follow the straight and narrow paths of their own faith.”

But all of this rhetoric is silly, don’t you agree? Obviously, society isn’t on the verge of declaring that it’s child abuse to share Jesus with our little ones.

Though that may be true, we’re naive to think that our families aren’t being targeted by anti-Christian activists who want to convince our children that belief in God is absurd.

Make no mistake: The agenda of the new generation of hard-line atheists is nothing less than wiping out what Dawkins called “the great unmentionable evil” of faith. Unfortunately, Dawkins isn’t the only atheistic scientist on this campaign. “Anything that we can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization,” said Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg at a 2006 forum, where he was also joined by his fellow atheist and the author of Letter to a Christian Nation (Bantam), Sam Harris.

I met personally with Harris, an outspoken opponent of religion, and he told me that faith wouldn’t be purged from the world overnight. It would take time, perhaps even generations. Which leads me to believe the Abbys of the world are the most likely targets of atheist fundamentalists, and the very thought infuriates me.

This is the time for us to heighten our commitment to building a resolute foundation of faith within our families. In a very real way, our outreach efforts must begin at home. Abby has given me a new incentive. She is the future. I will faithfully invest in her so that someday she might be as passionate as I am about helping the world experience the love of Jesus.

Because Sam Harris and others like him are wrong. Tomorrow—and Abby—belong to God.   

by Lee Strobel
Lee Strobel was a legal editor for the Chicago Tribune and former atheist. Today he is a Christian apologist. He has served as teaching pastor of Willow Creek Community Church and Saddleback Community Church. He is best known for writing the semi-autobiographical bestsellers The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator and most recently, The Case for the Real Jesus. You may visit Lee’s popular video apologetics web site

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