Raising Children UnFundamentalist Q&A

November 21, 2015

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We have been having some stimulating conversations over at my new Facebook Group, Raising Children UnFundamentalist, and I thought I would feature some of the best Q&As from the group for blog followers who aren’t there. From this week, I asked,


I started reading Faith Shift by Kathy Escobar (which, btw, everyone should go pick up a copy), and she is reminding me of that first phase of certainty of faith and how incredibly comforting it was. I think sometimes it’s easy to feel disgusted when we see how dogmatic fundies can be and pride ourselves in being “nuanced”, and forget how much it helped us thrive at that stage of our faith.

All that to say, do you ever feel that in reaction to fundamentalism, we rush our children PAST the stage of certainty. Do you think maybe they NEED that phase of black/white thinking to establish their identity?

This was our most popular answer:


Honestly, no, I don’t think it’s actually needed. Even outside of conservative Christianity, black and white moralism is still pervasive in most cultures and they will pick it up from school, the news – look at fairy tales! That simplicity, that certainty is built into their childhood from day one. So, even just developmentally, they will go through that stage of certainty or black/white.
But I also think raising children unfundamentalist has its own certainties, ones that will provide that stability for my kids (I hope!). Namely, that God is love, we are brought into the story of redemption through Jesus and our call to love others, and that no amount of evil can change that.

I also appreciate some of our members who did not grow up Fundamentalist, here’s what one of them said:

Having NOT grown up with a fundamentalist faith, let me share some thoughts. ONE my parents discussed, argued about, engaged with, every sermon we heard on the way home from church. So even as I was being black and white all they modeled was that faith was something to wrestle with. I don’t remember what they said in that wrestling, but when I got to the age to wrestle, I knew it was ok. TWO I deeply regret not knowing all the bible verses inside and out like my unfundamentalist friends. You can memorize the bible without having to take it literally. Even the bad stories are good stories to know. There is value to knowing the stories, and, when you get to that age, wrestling with them. I am so frustrated when someone says “well the bible says x” and my feeble reply is “well somewhere in one of the gospels it says y”. really? I can’t remember it any better than that?