Beit Gamaliel

The confluence of knowledge and faith

Teaching Children Lessons of Faith

I just had an interesting dialogue with my children about Bible classes at the religious school they attend. I used to be shocked and horrified with their stories and the convoluted ideas shared in classes. Tonight I just found out that my children are learning about Buddhism and Hinduism. Great! I asked what their teacher knows about these religions. Accurately, my son said, “Nothing! Absolutely nothing!”

I understand the rationale behind teaching comparative religions. It is believed by most Christians that students should have an understanding of false religions so that they are prepared to defend their own religion. Ironically, this is not what the Torah and the prophets teach.

Jeremiah the prophet declares, “Thus says the LORD, “Do not learn the way of the nations…”

The prophets, more than anyone else in the Bible had to fight against Jews blending their faith with other ideas and religions. It was not long in the land of Canaan that Jews began to wonder about the false gods around them. Even Solomon in all his wisdom was not able to withstand the temptation to add dozens of false religions to his Biblical worldview. But maybe today’s Bible teachers are wiser then he?

The great Jewish philosopher named Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also known as Rambam noted in his writings, “The worshipers of false gods have composed many texts concerning their service, [describing] what is the essence of their service, what practices are involved, and what are its statutes. The Holy One, blessed be He, has commanded us not to read those books at all, nor to think about them or any matters involved with them.

It is even forbidden to look at the image of an idol, as [Leviticus 19:4] states: “Do not turn to the idols.” In this regard, [Deuteronomy 12:30] states: “[Be careful]… lest you seek to find out about their gods, saying, ‘How did they serve them.’ This prohibits inquiring about the nature of their service even if you, yourself, do not serve them. This matter will ultimately cause you to turn to [the false god] and worship it as they do, as [the above verse continues]: “so that I will do the same.”

We may think it a stretch that learning about another religion may cause us to follow that religion, but examples this abound. But let’s reflect on this where our children are concerned. Doesn’t Jesus teach, “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” I have seen more children question their own beliefs as a result of Bible teachers spewing stupidity than any other cause. I have seen students approach teachers and ask about dozens of social issues, many which are commonly regarded as sin, only to see teachers white-wash the issue under the “freedom in Christ” clause. Most often these children become reinforced in their rebellion against their own churches and move in the opposite direction. Might God actually hold us accountable for our arrogance, and boastful claims of absolute freedom without recourse to God’s law? Might he judge us as Jesus prescribes?

Judaism prohibits reading anything that denies the existence of God and involves things and information that contradicts the Torah and Judaism in general. Honestly, these claims and ideas do not bother me, nor do they sway me. However, not everyone is capable of understanding arguments and interpret things properly and it could be dangerous for them to read material that would take them away from their life’s purpose and to fulfill God’s design for their lives.

Do you teach children the Bible? How sound is your doctrine? Be careful to not cause one of these to stumble!

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