The Tradition of Teaching

Some years ago, a friend informed me that a parent of the children she babysat for told her that he would not take his children to church or instruct them in any faith in order that the children may make up their own mind when it came to matters of God.

J. Budziszewski has something to say about that. “Consider for example traditionlessness in religion. A good many parents decline to give their children any religious instruction, saying that they think it is better to ‘let them make up their own minds.’ But declining to teach is itself a way of teaching, a very effective one, and it teaches children a very definite creed with eight articles:

(1) It is not important for children to know anything about God. (2) The questions which children naturally ask about Him require no answers. (3) Parents know nothing about Him worth passing on. (4) To think about Him adequately, no preparation is needed. (5) What adults think about Him makes no difference. (6) By implication, He does not make any difference either; God is not to be treated as God. (7) If anything is to be treated as God, it will have to be something other than Him. (8) This is the true creed, and all other creeds are false” (J. Budziszewski, What We Can’t Not Know [Dallas: Spence Publishing Company, 2003], 162-63).

2 thoughts on “The Tradition of Teaching

  1. Budziszewski’s quote is a nice way of stating the truth of the situation. I would prefer the more (IMO) appropriately descriptive observation that such a horrifically misguided opinion/goal is really just a cowardly abdication of the parental vocation…


  2. Mike,

    Since the family mentioned is the one that I have babysat for the past 7 years, I thought I would comment.

    J. Budziszewski makes a great point here. What I find particularly interesting about the father of these 4 boys (2 sets of twins) is that 1) he highly values education, 2) he is highly educated himself, being a vascular surgeon, and 3) he has no problem teaching his children other of life’s truths without feeling that he is taking away their choice.

    The other intersting thing is that the kids clearly reflect the lack of faith in their home. When the oldest set of twins was 5, I asked if it was okay to buy them each a Bible for Christmas. Their dad finally consented and amazingly, it was one of their favorite books to read from. Today, as the same boys are almost 11, they look at me oddly when I pray before we eat dinner. Yet, they are intrigued by “this faith” that I have. Interesting!

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