|Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono|
Let's take the question posed for today: Who created God? (Or who's God's daddy?)
This question was asked to me yesterday by a curious Kindergartener in our Day Care. It is important to answer the question at the level of understanding, and this is why we will have to revisit this question over and over again as our children grow into tweens and teens and finally adults. So below is the question asked by different aged children, the challenges they are facing and a response that helps to satisfy the curious mind and give an increasing confidence that the faith that you and I profess in Christ is grounded in logic and truth and isn't just mere wishful thinking.
3-5 years old
Who created God?
Challenge: I want to understand the facts about God. Everyone I know has been created, what about God?
Answer: God has always existed. There has never been a time where God wasn't around, so God didn't need a daddy and mommy. This is what is meant by God being eternal.
This answer usually is enough for the curious preschooler. At this age, they find more confidence in the fact that Mom and Dad know the answer than needing a detailed explanation.
Who created God?
Challenge: I need more confidence than just Mom and Dad said so. I am learning so much in school about science, math, reading and writing. My world is growing. Therefore, the God whom I have heard about should be growing in my understanding as well.
Answer: God has always existed (reaffirming the previous answer given). What does Jesus promise you and I, if we believe in Him? (Eternal life.) Now, can I give someone something I don't have? (No.) If I promise you a million dollars, but I don't have a million dollars, can I give it to you? (No.) So Jesus promises us eternal life, if we believe in Him and follow Him. What does it mean to live eternally? (It means to live forever.) But Jesus can't offer that to us unless He lives forever, can He? (No.) Therefore, Jesus has always lived forever, because that is the only way that He can offer us eternal life.
Notice in this instance how we affirmed the previous answer while expanding the knowledge of the answer in such a way to satisfy a naturally curious mind. The dialogue in the form of questions helps your child see the logic concerning your answer. It begins to make sense. But the question is going to come up again.
Who created God?
Challenge: Up until this point your child has been relying on your knowledge of God. However, in school they have been opening their world to new ideas through the avenue of reading. They are reading about History, Science & English. They are discovering the concept of Math for themselves through addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Their imaginations begin to go wild as they read about the far away places of Star Wars. This is an age of self discovery. So their understanding about God needs to be something that they are discovering for themselves.
Answer: At this age, they should be reading a version of the Bible they can understand (I suggest an NIrV). It is important as a parent to add Scripture to their previous answers. Just as children are discovering truths about subjects in school through self discovery, they need that same opportunity with their faith. At this point, the previous answer they accepted in K-2nd Grade is fine, but needs verification through the Scriptures themselves.
Scriptures such as Genesis 1:1-2 (and actually Genesis 1-2) and John 1:1-18 establish that God the Father, Jesus (the Son) and the Holy Spirit were there at the very beginning of all creation. Without God, nothing was made that has been made.
Passages like Psalm 90:1-2; Exodus 3:13-14; John 8:54-59 establish that God has always existed. But unlike before, we are now taking our children to the places in the Scriptures that God has said these things about Himself. They are not just taking our word for it, but God's word about Himself.
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Who created God?
Challenge: Now children are being introduced to ideas that counter their beliefs. Friends who have families who do not believe. Scientific hypotheses, like evolution, that begin to challenge their worldview enter their world. At this age, a firmer understanding of their faith is needed. However, they need more than just a firmer understanding of their faith, but reasons for which their Christian worldview makes more sense of the world than the contrary worldviews they are beginning to be introduced to.
Answer: During these years, it is important that your child makes their way all the way through the Scriptures. They will be drawing on that foundation for the rest of their lives. Before they can truly understand the conflicts between worldviews, they need to have a basic understanding of their own. Also, when they reach this age, they should have a more literal (less childlike) translation of the Bible (I recommend ESV). And I also, recommend that this Bible be a good study Bible with LOTS of notes.
My experience at this age is that the largest conflict with their faith has to do with evolution. Even concerning the question: Who created God? Many in the scientific community proclaim that religion was man's evolutionary response to ideas they couldn't fully comprehend. At school, they are taught this materialistic worldview from Kindergarten and it begins to make sense.
At 3-5 they needed Mom and Dad's knowledge and the confidence that comes from their confidence. At K-2nd Grade they needed underpinning reasons for Mom and Dad's confidence. At 3rd-5th Grade they needed to see these explanations for themselves through the Scriptures. At Mid High, they are in need of the reasons that stand up against the scrutiny of conflicting worldviews.
Not only do youth need the confidence of their own worldview, they need reasons why other worldviews fall short of giving reasonable explanations for the question they are facing. In the case of "Who created God?" They need a reason why an eternal God makes more sense than an evolutionary explanation of existence.
To answer those questions we need to introduce our children to logic at a deeper level than we did in K-2nd Grade. We need not only address our worldview, but the worldview they are being challenged with.
A way that I go over with Mid High youth concerning this subject is the following:
Which makes more sense: Everything was created by nothing (Which is what evolution believes) or that everything was created by Someone (Which is what we believe as Christians)?
Which makes more sense: In our experience do explosions create more order or less order? Then, does it make more sense that the orderliness of our universe come from a random explosion (this is the view of evolution) or that this universe was crafted purposefully and carefully from a loving Creator (what we believe as Christians)?
Which makes more sense: That the complexity of life would spring from a non-living source, which has never been witnessed before (this is the evolutionary view) or that life produced the life that we see and is our constant experience (this is what we believe as Christians)?
Finally, which makes more sense: that our morality came from an amoral source (this is what evolution believes) or that our morality has been given to us by a moral Lawgiver (this is what we believe as Christians)?
Not only do these questions answer from the sense of giving confidence that their worldview makes logical sense, but these begin to expose the flaws of other worldviews.
Also, notice how much more complex each answer to the same question is as your child grows older.
Who created God?
Challenge: A movement from using Mom and Dad as the authority to owning their own faith. This challenge usually comes through friends who are committed to their worldview. The talking of big ideas like evolution, atheism and other religions (and cults) has your child wondering what he/she will adopt as their own worldview.
Answer: At this point, it is extremely important that your children have a good understanding of the Word of God and are supplementing their faith with books on a High School and College level that will address these ponderings.
Books such as, The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, Stealing from God, On Guard, Seeking Allah Finding Jesus, Ask Me Anything 1 & 2, The Christian Atheist, Weird, Not A Fan, Crazy Love, Respectable Sins, Defeating Darwinism, Not God's Type, God and the Gay Christian?, The Coffee House Chronicles, Relational Apologetics...etc. should be encouraged for youth of this age to explore to see the firm foundation they have in faith regarding a number of issues they will be facing as high schoolers (as well as college students and adults). Many of the above books deal with the question "Who created God?" in a very in depth and scholarly approach.
They should be watching debates of big Christian thinkers, such as William Lane Craig and John Lennox against the arguments of those of opposing worldviews concerning the questions they have. Also, "God's Not Dead" is a great movie that addresses these ideas, as well. They should be talking to pastors or spiritual mentors and Christian peers about these questions as well. They need to be having these awesome conversations with Mom and Dad and Mom and Dad need to be well versed by having read some of the material above, so their youth see that their question "Who created God?" didn't stagnate in the 3rd Grade.
As you can see, this one simple, yet profoundly complex question, is one of many that we will be challenged to answer for our children to give them the firm foundation in Christ all of us as Christian parents hope for each of our children. As our children grow, we are being forced to grow as parents to address the needs that our children are growing into. It forces us to be even more dependent upon God, His Word and understanding what we believe and why we believe it, so we may fulfill the command to pass this faith down to the next generation (Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21; Ps. 78:1-8). And along the way, God just might give us the faith to have an answer for the hope we have to others around us as well (1 Pet. 3:15).
Lord bless you all!