I’ve been reading Natasha’s blog for a couple of years and am often amazed at how clearly and powerfully she presents the truth in ways we parents can grab ahold of and share with our family. So, when she asked for people to help her out with the launch of her newest book, I fired back a request right away. It’s been fun reading, hanging out on facebook with others delighted by her presentation, sharing the chapters with my own kids, and now getting to tell you about it!
As I sat down with the book on the first day, I quickly got a bit worried. The book has a beautiful, progressive flow, so the opening chapters (after a delightful call for parents to dive in) were on the reasonableness of believing in God. Sadly, she’s followed a popular style of Apologetics that ends up concluding with statements like this: “We may determine a best explanation, but even the best explanations aren’t certain.”
But, if you spend time with your kids reminding them that God is who he says he is no matter what anybody thinks about him, you’ll be fine. In fact, I used those chapters to show why I don’t follow the paradigm that has us presenting logic and facts to try to convince people to decide to let God exist for them. It’s too subjective and contrasts sharply with the unwavering solidity of the Bible’s approach.
[Natasha was kind enough to let me know she didn’t mean to sound this way. She was pointing out the limitations of searching after God by just examining creation on its own. No wonder she turns so confident thereafter!]
A Simple Tool For Us
To my relief, as soon as the topics turn to what the Bible tells us God is like, Natasha does a great job standing confidently on the truth of Scripture. All her uncertainty vanishes, as it should for someone who has experienced Jesus’ reality.
My favorite chapter (just above the Flying Spaghetti Monster) was the one on the God of the Gaps. I’ve read a fair amount on this topic and even wrote an article on it once, but Natasha does a far better job. She breaks this accusation down into two separate, but often conflated, logical arguments. This both helps us understand what is happening for ourselves and think through how to interact with those throwing this accusation at us.
I’ll use that chapter to share what I think is the real genius of this book’s usefulness. Natasha always opens her chapters with a story helping us picture the concept. For the God of the Gaps she tells how one of her daughters regularly blamed things going wrong on her sister. She had invented a ‘sister of the gaps’. But, for us as Christians, although we should watch out for the same copout, it no more follows that relying on too many miracles means God doesn’t exist than it would that wrongly blaming a sibling means that person doesn’t exist. Brilliant!
Then there are the closing questions. I appreciate Natasha adding in a short, bulleted recap for quick review when presenting the material (these are supposed to be conversations, not read-aloud times), and that at the very end she has a discussion question. She includes real statements by skeptics throwing the concept in our teeth and invites us to think through our response. This is huge!
The atheists have a small, ancient playbook to draw from and this book covers many of the arguments we face. If we take time in a safe, relaxed environment to think through what’s going on and how we would deal with things, it’s going to help protect us from being knocked down by unexpected attacks from non-believers. Plus, I was able to consistently remind the kids that the goal is to show God’s love and keep the door open for the next person rather than to “win” any interaction. If our faith stays strong and we have winsomely invited the other person to move towards the truth we have fulfilled our purpose.
The Christian Life
Besides issues primarily dealing with the unsaved, there are a number of topics included that will help clarify how we relate to God as believers. Doubt, prayer, God’s intangibility, and what it means to live a “Christian life” are all addressed. Each time, I was delighted with Natasha’s clarity and orthodoxy. She is careful to leave certain “how God does it” details, like the Calvinist/Armenian debate, to us as parents, but on anything we hold in common she clearly delineates the effect Christian beliefs have on our lives.
Although I could wish Natasha would come out as a Young Earth creationist (I’ve no idea where she stands on this) and make the truth of the Bible her starting point for every interaction with skeptics, overall I am delighted with this book. It’s short chapters, simple explanations, helpful analogies, and closing questions make this a simple and minimally overwhelming tool for us to take up out task to train up our children.
In some ways it is a good thing our culture no longer permits us to leave our kids’ faith up to their Sunday School class. God called us to teach our children daily. Now we can see how vital this command truly is, and resources like this help us take up our task with confidence and joy!