I recently watched our class of 2022 walk across the graduation stage, and I asked myself as their senior Bible teacher if I had done enough to prepare them for the onslaught of anti-biblical ideologies they will surely face at the university level. My answer: I don’t know and I may never know. Regardless, I am convinced our students must be able to answer four essential questions by graduation.
Q1: Can I defend my faith?
“… [B]ut sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…” 1 Peter 3:15
I begin each new school year asking senior Bible class students to write down what they believe about God, Jesus, and salvation. Most give biblically solid answers to these questions. However, most cannot articulate why they believe what they say they believe.
I bet as faith-based educators we can all agree our graduates will face questions, criticism, and possibly even hostility toward their own faith. An older but still applicable 2007 study found “[e]vangelicals were the only major religious denomination to be viewed negatively by a majority of faculty, the study [was] released May 7 by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research. Among non-evangelical university faculty, 53 percent in a sampling of 1,200 said they held an unfavorable view of evangelical Christians while expressing positive feelings toward most other religious groups.” My recent alumni tell me they believe this percentage to be higher in 2022.
We must help our students by asking the why question and by giving them the tools to equip them to answer. When students lack confidence in defending their faith, they are susceptible to “every wind of doctrine.” I have included a list of helpful websites at the end of this article. Each site provides reasoned answers for our faith. I usually have students bookmark these sites on their devices.
Q2: How do I know the Bible is reliable and authoritative?
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” II Timothy 3:16
“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture becomes a matter of someone’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” II Peter 1:20-21
After twenty years of asking students at the beginning of their senior year if they believe the Bible to be true, I have never had a student say no. And after twenty years of asking students at the beginning of their senior year why they believe the Bible is true, I have never had a student give a complete and acceptable answer.
Using II Peter 2: 18 – 21, Pastor and author Voddie Baucham claims, “I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They reported supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claimed that their writings are divine rather than human in origin.” In the attached video, Baucham shares how this was his response in an assigned paper written for his Oxford professor.
I watch the proverbial light bulb come on in class when we delve into these verses and Baucham’s response. This leads us to explore archaeological evidence for the Bible’s accuracy, the impact of eyewitness testimony, the fulfillment of prophecy, and the Bible’s claims of divine authorship. This is typically one of my students’ favorite and most affirming units of the year.
Q3: What is truth?
“Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, ‘I find no guilt in Him’.” John 18:38
Pilate is not the only one to ask, “What is truth?” Unfortunately the prevailing answer today is anything but truthful. Our current cultural ideology denies objective truth. Graduates will be inundated with claims such as “That is true for you, but not for me,” and “That is your truth.” These equate truth to simply perception, experience, or even preference. Author Aaron Blake in his article gives the classic definition of truth: “The correspondence theory of truth states that an idea, belief, or statement is true if it matches, or corresponds with, reality.” He then makes the case that this is the most biblical view of truth.
Without an objective truth or truth standard, anything and everything can be “true” at once. And if truth is redefined as perception or one’s personal narrative, then nothing is absolutely true. This breaks the law of noncontradiction. Reality then has to be denied. I like what Josh McDowell says: “Absolute truth is true for all people, for all places, and for all time.” Graduates must be prepared to counter the redefining of truth.
Q4: What will I do to continue growing in the Lord?
“O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want.” Psalm 34:8-9
This is the last question on my senior Bible final exam. Students respond with plans to read and study scripture, to fellowship with other believers, to attend a Bible-believing church, and to actively engage in prayer. And while this is a what question, I pray throughout their time in our school they have discovered the why as they have tasted the Lord’s goodness, experienced His blessing, and found Him worthy of their awe and trust. May their desire to seek Him more and before anyone or anything else motivate them to actually implement their plans!
Certainly these are not the only questions I think grads must be able to answer. But if they can confidently defend their faith, the Bible, and truth, I believe they stand a good chance of recognizing and standing against any untruths that come their way.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko