You know how I get on my high horse about theological ignorance, right? Well, consider this real-life dialogue from around the dinner table the other day:
Older Person: “The churches these days, they don’t teach kids anything. I bet the young people here can’t even tell you the Ten Commandments.”
Me: “I hear you. The research bears this out.” [Turning to Young Relative] “Can you tell me the Ten Commandments?”
Teenage Churchgoing Person: “Uhh … ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’?”
Me: “No, that’s the New Testament. But hang on, [Older Relative], do you know the Ten Commandments? I wonder if I do?”
Thus commenced a few minutes of embarrassed grasping as the grown-ups at the table — churchgoers, all — tried to list the Ten Commandments. Collectively we got only six of them — a performance that was so lousy it ought to shut me up about the march of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. I’m a big whiner about that stuff, as you know, but as I learned to my great surprise, I’m part of the problem.
That was an important moment for me as a parent. It embarrassed me, and it ought to have embarrassed me. What kind of mature Christian doesn’t know the Ten Commandments? That is so basic. But sure enough, I failed the test, and I failed it badly.
It occurred to me afterward that many churches may be falling down terribly on teaching young people the basic doctrines and creeds of the faith, but that only means that religious parents — the primary educators of their children, after all — should do what we ought to have been doing all along.
We’re going to start doing a more formal catechism of the kids in our home. Maybe Your Mr. Know-It-All Working Boy will learn something himself.