Should I let my kids read books by non-Christians?

July 19, 2016

Article By: Generations

Daniel Craig: So you wrote this book, not just to bash a bunch of bad guys, but as practical help for families who are trying to navigate the waters of literature, of what's been written out there over the last several hundred years.

Kevin Swanson: We wanted look at two different things, we wanted to look at their lives and their works. Obviously the lives would be something of a reflection of their works. The Bible says, "By the fruits you shall know them." But also the words, the truth, the ideas that they conveyed. We wanna compare that with a biblical approach, and so we analyzed that. And you know what? It'll turn out that education, the ideas of the modern world have been very much impacted by these ideas that were disseminated by these great philosophers of the 19th century.

Isaac Botkin: And I have a couple questions. The first is a very basic one that you address in the book, and that is something like, "Is it okay to read Tom Sawyer based on who Mark Twain was?" But the second bigger question I have is, "How do I make sure that my grandkids don't turn into Mark Twain?" Because this is one of the defining characteristics of most of the men in these books, they are apostates. They didn't come out of a vacuum, they came out of a Christian heritage that they apostatized from, and how does that happen?

Kevin Swanson: Well, let's take the first question first, should we be reading Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn? Bottom line is, if you're ready to tear down imaginations and ideas that exult themselves against the knowledge of God and Christ, if you're equipped to engage the battle. But man, why would you send your daughter or your son into a tremendous academic, intellectual battle and they're not properly equipped for that? And that's the kind of thing that's happened for the last 200 years or 300 years of education. Well-meaning Christian parents send their kinds off to liberal arts high schools and colleges and they take in all of these great authors whose ideas are some of the most dangerous ideas ever, ever promulgated in the history of mankind. And their kids wind up moving away from the Christian faith and the consequences have been tragic of course. That's really the destruction of the faith, generation by generation. And I don't want that to happen anymore. I'm tired of losing this battle. And I'm a parent, I'm concerned about our children in the next generation. It's time to engage the battle ideas in the area of liberal arts, and that's what we're doing in this book.

Isaac Botkin: Which brings me to my second question. How do we keep our children, or more accurately, probably our grandchildren from becoming apostates the way that these men did? 'Cause these men came from Christian homes.

Kevin Swanson: First of all, you've gotta root them and ground them in the word of God. You gotta equip them with the truths of God's word. And then, you help them to engage the battle to discern the false ideas, the false world views that come out of these great philosophers, and the literary giants, and the cultural heroes of the day. They must be able to discern the ideas. They need to identify existentialism when they see it on the movie screen. They need to be able to know when someone's moving towards a Nietzschean nihilism in their music, just produced hot off the press from Nashville. They have to be able to recognize the false ideas that are very corrosive, very destructive in the history of the western world, and I summarize that in this book.

Daniel Craig: One of your readers said, "I just wanted to let you know that your book is the key to unlocking the strong holds of humanist thinking that are left over from my 20 years of mainstream education. Thank you for your careful and critical analysis. I have struggled to put it down." You've heard similar remarks quite a bit.

Kevin Swanson: Hundred, hundreds of reviews just like that. People who went through four years of college, perhaps six years of college, maybe even into their PhD's, they were not properly equipped, and so when they began to see this contrast between the word of God and these false ideas, and they see this side by side presented in a book like this, they're shocked and then they realize they've been duped and there's a lot of people picking up this book and saying, "Wow, I wish I had this 20 years ago."

Daniel Craig: Well, let's take a look at these giants then in a new perspective and apply the word of God to what they say and ask ourselves, should we as Christians consider these people to be the kinds of authors, the kinds of writers that we want to be discipling the next generation? Maybe we shouldn't be as excited as we have been.

Kevin Swanson: Well, John Dewey said that God is a faded piece of metaphysical goods. That is after 2,000 years. He says, "2,000 years of God, 2,000 years of Christian influence since the coming of Jesus Christ has been a disaster for the western world." And now, by evolution, by Darwin and by his own work in the public schools, he says he's overcome the influence of Jesus over 2,000 years and now God is a faded piece of metaphysical goods. Now, if John Dewey is the father of modern education, public school education, that should give every Christian parent in America a pause to reconsider whether they should be following in the footsteps of John Dewey, the father of modern education. That should also get every liberal arts teacher and every public school teacher reason to reconsider, whether we should follow this man who is the great humanist of the 20th century. I've got a whole chapter on John Dewey in the book.

About Generations

The vision of Generations (formerly Generations with Vision) is to pass on the faith to the next generation through the biblical family, discipleship, and education. We equip families and churches around the world through our daily radio programs, discipleship resources, the Christian Curriculum Project, and discipleship events and retreats.

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