General Editor of Mama Bear Apologetics: Hillary Morgan Ferrer
Review by Hanna with NETworkers TEC
"[To] gain wisdom to help you listen well to your children-to discern their thoughts and questions, and then guide them in thinking critically and biblically about the postmodern culture." (Pg. 14)
Part 1: Rise Up, Mama Bears [Explains the why/need and basic how to be a Mama Bear] Part 2: Lies You've Probably Heard but Didn't Know what They were Called [Discusses each one of these negative worldviews and how to teach your children to discern the error of what they are hearing from the culture around them.]
God Helps Those Who Help Themselves - Self-Helpism
My Brain is Trustworthy...According to my Brain - Naturalism
I'd Believe in God if there were any Shred of Evidence - Skepticism
The Truth is, There is No Truth - Postmodernism
You're Wrong to Tell me that I'm Wrong - Moral Relativism
Follow Your Heart - It never Lies! - Emotionalism
Just Worship Something - Pluralism
I'm Not Religious; I'm Spiritual! - New Spirituality
Communism Failed Because Nobody Did it Right! - Marxism
The Future is Female! - Feminism
Christianity Needs a Makeover - Progressive Christianity
ROAR like a Mother (This teaching is contained in each worldview chapter in Part 2)
Recognize the Message
Offer Discernment (Affirm the good and reject the bad)
Argue for a Healthier Approach
Reinforce through Discussion, Discipleship, and Prayer
What is a Mama Bear? "Any woman who recognizes that the children in the body of Christ need guidance, role models, and solid answers to the tough questions about faith." (Pg. 39)
Part 1 - The first part of the book lays the groundwork for why reading this book, and why being a Mama Bear, is important. The subtitle for chapter 1 is, “My kid has a cheerio shoved up his nose. Why am I reading this book?” In all that life throws at you in raising children, you might feel that you don’t have time to read a book about apologetics—apolo...what?
Apologetics means to give a defense or answer for our Christian faith—not to apologize for it. It comes from a Greek word (apologia) found in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (apologia) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." (ESV)
And while adults may not be interested in apologetics for their own faith, they should be for the faith of their kids (Pg. 13). It is no secret “… that parents are on the front lines in preparing their children to face a society that responds to Christianity with puzzlement or outright hostility.” (Pg. 11) In this battle, what casualties have been observed in the faith of our children?
Studies have shown that 45% of young adults leave church after their freshman year in college, and 70% after two years! (Pg. 27-28) But “while [the experiences and teaching received at] college is and remains a contributing factor, these numbers are an external manifestation of an internal disconnection that started years earlier. The ticket was already purchased. College was just their first opportunity to use it." (Pg. 28) Other studies are showing that 40% of kids are “leaving” the church in elementary and middle school! (Pg. 33) Now these kids are still physically going to church each week, but they have mentally, emotionally, and spiritually checked out. And the reason that these kids have left the church is not because they didn’t eat enough pizza, play enough games, or because the worship wasn’t that exciting. Most of the time the reason that children and students walk away from the Christian faith is because of intellectual objections to Christianity that do not get addressed by their parents or Christian leaders. Children are looking to make sense of the world around them, but if they are not taught the truth and how to discern truth from error, they may embrace a counterfeit belief which will have a continuous impact on their temporal and eternal life.
“You could cross your fingers and hope that your kids stick with that you’ve taught them and don’t succumb to other ways of thinking...” but that approach is not recommended (Pg. 23). “The greatest protection we can give our kids is to equip them to face the culture's lies head-on while remaining gracious, loving, and winsome.” (Pg. 17)
It is important to prepare our children to think biblically before they are presented with the questions that challenge their faith, which requires us, as parents and leaders, to take a closer look at the worldly philosophies behind the questions they will ask to prepare ourselves so we can teach them—which is the purpose of part 2 of the book.
Part 2- The second part of this book explains the different ideas that our children are being exposed to and how to teach our children to spot the dangers of these views and avoid them! Each chapter in part 2 is written by various "Mama Bears" that are experts in that area of thought. Included in the chapter is an explanation of the worldview, a brief history of it, and the implications of it in today's culture and how that affects our kids. Each chapter contains the ROAR teaching that helps to summarize the message, and provides discussion points and practical questions or activities that you could do with your kids to empower them to challenge the culture's lies for these worldviews. Each chapter ends with a prayer, as well as discussion points if you are going through the book with a small group.
Here are a couple examples from Part 2:
Self-Helpism - God Helps Those Who Help Themselves - Self-helpism tells kids that they are the source of their own strength. It says "... we need search no further than within ourselves to find both the cause and remedies for our brokenness.” (Pg. 82) It also diminishes sin as just a bad habit or character defect—not as a condition with eternal consequences from which we are unable to save ourselves. It communicates the message that, “I don’t have to deny myself or repents of anything. I only have to find myself.” (Pg. 91) Kids hear this message all the time with phrases like “Believe in yourself!”
Application (Pg.94): When your child comes to you with a problem, begin with “Let’s see what the Bible says about this”, rather than just giving your opinion. Once you have identified the Biblical principle, discuss action steps and other helps to apply what they learned. Instead of focusing on how to help yourself, focus on seeking the Lord for where all help comes.
Emotionalism – Follow your Heart – It Never Lies! - Emotionalism says that what you feel about something is the most important thing about a situation and that you are justified in whatever action/behavior you do if it feels right! Basically, emotions replace God as the highest authority of right and wrong, as well as the God-given reasoning faculties that he has given us (Pg. 170). This is not to say that emotions are not important or should always be rejected. In fact, “well-informed emotions can strengthen your grasp on truth. … When disciplined by Scripture, reason, and reality, emotions are powerful reinforcers.” (Pg. 169) Emotions, however, must be conformed to truth in order to tell us anything useful, just a like a compass must be magnetized in order to point us in the right direction. “We can follow our emotions, but only after we have made sure our emotional compass is pointing in the right direction.” (Pg. 171) As it has been said, "Emotions are like toddlers. They are fun, but you’d never put one in charge." (Pg. 168)
Kids absorb the message of emotionalism with slogans like “follow your heart”. Or when they are encouraged to make decisions about sexuality based on what they feel regardless of reality, when they get caught up in the social causes of the day without consideration to what the Bible says or what the truth is, or when they see that the "standard" of truth is whether or not it offends someone, not in whether or not it is actually true. In today’s culture, truth is seen as not important. Technically we live in a post-truth culture which means the way you feel about an issue is way more important than what the facts (truth) actually is. Does something make you feel better/safe? Then it is right. Does something make you feel bad? Then it is wrong—despite the facts (reality). That is how emotionalism plays itself out in today's culture; we must "ROAR" like a mother to protect our children!
Application (Pg. 181):
Younger Kids – (1) Create flashcards to help children understand different emotions (e.g. happy, sad, mad, disappointed). Let them role play different situations for these emotions. Use these words in sentences to help kids learn how to communicate their emotions, versus exploding with emotion (like a mad temper tantrum). (2) Give hypothetical situations (funny or serious) to help kids see that following your emotions would be wrong. For example, “What if mommy didn’t feel like cooking dinner all week because she would rather watch TV or take a nap? What would happen? Would that be right?” Or “’What if I get mad at your dad and my heart tells me to kick him in the shins?’ Is that right? Should I follow that emotion? What should I do instead?” (Pg. 212)
Older Kids – Teach kids to identify the emotions that they are feeling in certain situations and to discern if that emotion is right or wrong. To get the conversation started, a sentence you could teach them could be “When ______________ happened, I felt ______ way.” Talking about how a situation makes you feel is definitely important, but the conversation shouldn’t end there as if emotions have the final say. Talk with your kids about the situation they are going through or that is going on around them by first looking at the facts. Then determine if they need to reevaluate their emotions based on reality (the truth). Sometimes getting a different perspective of the situation, or talking through the situation and learning the truth, will turn discontentment into peace, anger into compassion/understanding, or fear into bravery (Pg. 182) or sometimes it will affirm that the emotion that they had at the beginning was the correct feeling to have. God has given us our emotions, but they should never lead us in making decisions. We must submit our emotions to the Lord and to the truth.
Chew and Spit Method - One of the principles talked about in the book is the "Chew and Spit Method". Basically it is training yourself and your children to use critical thinking and discernment to (1) see things accurately, (2) correctly identify and embrace the good, and (3) correctly identify and reject the bad (Pg. 56, 17). This is true with every podcast, every song, and, even, every sermon!
But one item of caution and question is...is it worth chewing in the first place? Sometimes the "chew and spit" method is also called "eat the fish and spit out the bones" which alludes to the point to spit out what is bad but receive what is good. But if your fish is so small, with very little meat, and it's mostly bones is that even worth putting in your mouth to begin with? The risk of swallowing a bone is greater than the benefit of eating the fish.
The point is that we should not use the "chew and spit" method as an excuse to engage in things that aren't worth our attention, time, and thought in the first place.
Style of Writing - This book is written for the every day Mama Bear that wants to nurture her children's faith. However, I did not find the book to be an "light" read. Since each chapter is broken up into subsections, I would suggest reading one or two of those at a time, rather than trying to tackle a whole chapter in one sitting. Especially for busy moms that might help to progress through and analyze the material.
God has given parents the primary responsibility for the spiritual education of their children to help prepare them for the real world and to have a strong faith so that they can serve the Lord and minister to others throughout their life (Pg. 11). Discipling our children to think biblically isn’t just about knowing Bible verses. “No, thinking biblically is about taking what we know from the Bible and understanding how the principles presented in it apply to everyday situations. That’s the kind of biblical thinkers we want our kids to become.” (Pg. 16) That type of discipleship will empower your kids to challenge cultural lies and stand strong in their faith—and it starts with the Mama Bears in their lives.