Recently, I met with a young couple whose little boy had just been evaluated for kindergarten. Their son is brilliant. He began talking before he turned 1. He knew all of his letters and numbers at 1 and a half, and he started reading words around 2. He’s voraciously inquisitive, which affords his parents many opportunities to point him to Christ.
As I talked to this little one, I realized what a gift logical reasoning is, even to young children. A childlike faith isn’t at odds with intellectual curiosity. In fact, a child’s appetite for learning could be the conduit through which he is brought to a saving faith.
Logic and a Rational Faith
R. C. Sproul characterized Christianity as a rational faith, the truth of which can be discerned logically. Logic, he pointed out, is a good gift—an aspect of the thinking of God himself—and must never be separated from faith:
[The laws of logic] were placed in our minds by the Creator during the act of creation. We speak because God has spoken. God is not the author of confusion, irrationality, or the absurd. Furthermore, his words are meant to be understood by his creatures, and a necessary condition for his creature’s understanding of those words is that they are intelligible and not irrational.
Logical thought applied to faith incites solid belief and great love. So, how can parents lead their children in the pursuit of truth and help foster a generation of thinkers who will use their God-given minds to lay hold of Christ? We begin with logic and reason—a set of tools we use ourselves every day, whether we know it or not.
In ordinary conversations and daily observations, three simple principles can point children to a rational and saving faith in Jesus Christ.
1. The Law of Non-Contradiction
Two contradictory propositions cannot both be true at the same time in the same relationship. Even young children can apprehend that 2 + 2 = 4 and can never equal anything else. A child can see that chocolate ice cream is always chocolate, and never vanilla; or that a dog is a dog, and can never be a cat; or that touching a hot stove will burn their hand every time.
When young children hear others dismiss God’s existence, or shrug off Jesus as just a man, or deny the truth of God’s Word, they encounter an opportunity for logic. Applying the objective reality of non-contradiction to faith can lead children to see that the God of the Bible is either who he says he is, or he is who unbelievers say he is. But he can’t be both.
2. The Law of Causality
Every effect has a cause. As Sproul further explained, “There cannot be an uncaused effect.” There is no exception to this rule in the natural world. As we go through our days alongside our kids, we can notice effects and look for their causes. Is the sidewalk wet in the morning? It rained during the night. Is a frisbee gliding through the air at the park? Someone threw it. Are we feeling better? We’ve received medicine or a hug. Are we smiling? There’s an ice-cream cone in our hand.
Applying the law of causality to faith can lead children to conclude that something—Someone—made trees, and zebras, and spiders, and stars, and planets, and love, and the taste of sweet things on our tongues. No walk to the park or trip to the zoo can escape the necessary conclusion of the law of causality.
Inevitably, pondering causes will lead children to the inevitable question, “Who caused God?”
God is the preeminent cause. Again, Sproul explains:
We don’t have to have an antecedent cause for God. God is an uncaused cause. He is an eternal being; the self-existing, eternal being who is independent, underived, not contingent, not caused because he is not an effect. Only things that are made are effects.
Explaining the preeminence of the Creator to children can spark both deepened faith and a reason to worship Christ, who is “before all things, and in whom all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).
3. Sense Perception
In the natural world, the only means of accessing anything outside ourselves is through our senses. We’ve been given gifts of sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing. The invention of the microscope and telescope opened up even greater opportunities to observe—and marvel at—the breathtaking wonder, majesty, grandeur, minutiae, vastness, intricacy, opulence, and sublimity of creation. Though God is invisible, our senses enable us to see his handiwork all around us, so we are “without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
Jesus appealed to sense perception when explaining the Holy Spirit to Nicodemus: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
The softness of a feather, the smell of the rain, the wonder of a spiderweb, or the glory of a sunset are all opportunities to capture. Point children to their source. For when they’re taught to be aware of their senses, children can be led to see and know the genius and beauty of the Creator in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Seize the Opportunities
We must teach our children to agree with Romans 7:25: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then I myself serve the law of God with my mind.” Knowledge of God secures our hope (Prov. 24:14), and pursuing it serves as the first step in fulfilling the Greatest Commandment (Matt. 22:36–38).
Every picnic at the playground and conversation with the neighbors provides children with an opportunity to use their young minds. Let’s seize these moments in the service of Christ.