The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity is out there, and it’s been perpetuated for generations on end. Here’s how to save our kids from it and set them up to change the world. (Want your kids to be more engaged and invested in the Mass? Check out To Hear His Voice: A Mass Journal for Catholic Kids).
This post contains a review of Matthew Kelly’s new book, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity. I was provided a copy for review. All opinions are my own.
My daughters were 10 and six the first time they had to defend their faith. While I couldn’t help but be proud of my daughters for their knowledge and devotion, I also couldn’t help but feel a little sad.
This wouldn’t be the last time they’d have to stand up to myths, lies, and criticism, and in fact, they’ve had to do it twice more in the last six months.
Living in a Society of Lies
For all its declarations of progressive tolerance, our secular society clings to outrageous untruths:
- Jesus wasn’t a real person
- The Resurrection is a myth
- Christianity preys on the weak and the innocent
- Christianity is anti-intellectual and anti-science
- Christianity is anti-sex
Contemporary Christians face these perceptions at home, at the office, and even in church. It’s a battle best-selling author and speaker Matthew Kelly deconstructs in his latest title, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity. Kelly’s conversational tone and thought-provoking insight poke holes in the prevarication our culture has come to accept. Kelly provides the faithful with a number of practical steps we can take to rebuild a society based on Christian truths.
The Spiritual Multiplication Equation – And What it has to do with Our Kids
Truthfully, I began reading Kelly’s book for my own edification. Connecting The Biggest Lie to my own children’s catechesis didn’t initially cross my mind. But something struck me as I read through Kelly’s argument. It’s a concept he calls Spiritual Multiplication, and it’s a direct result of leading an “intriguing Christian life.” He writes:
What is Spiritual Multiplication?… It is based on one very simple idea: Invest in a small group of people, teach them how to…become disciples of Jesus, them empower each of them to go out and do the same for another small group of people.
Jesus used this model. So did Paul and the other trailblazers of the early Christian church. Kelly highlights the power of this model in a simple mathematical computation:
It takes only 15 cycles of evangelization to spread the truth to 20 million people.
For those of us raising children, this astounding phenomenon begins with our kids.
Saving Our Kids from the Biggest Lie
Kelly doesn’t directly apply the theory of Spiritual Multiplication to family dynamics. But as a mother of three children who have already faced the reality of defending their faith, it’s not hard to carry the concept over into my parenting life.
Because Christian families are raising the next generation of the Kingdom of God. Our kids are perfectly poised to take their own journey of evangelization. We owe it to our kids to arm them with the truth. What better way to start than with an age-appropriate debunking of the lies we face as Christians?
Kelly upends them for his adult readers; I’ve expanded them here to apply to our kids.
The Lie: Jesus didn’t exist
The Remedy: Discover the historical Jesus
According to Kelly, “our culture has been subtly and persistently nudging Jesus toward the same category as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.” This is an insidious but effective lie. Jesus was indeed a historical figure “who has influenced human history more than any other person.” The writers of the synoptic Gospels included such correct, specific details about the time and place in which Jesus lived. Why would they manufacture and spread news of a figment of their imagination?
Simply put, they wouldn’t. I know that, and so do you. But the rest of the world needs proof, and we must teach our children how to provide that for them. We begin with cultivating a sense of wonder, then move into historical accounts of Jesus’ birth, life, and death.
The Lie: The Resurrection is a Myth
The Remedy: Study the Miraculous
The Shroud of Turin. Eucharistic miracles. Amazing, physical occurrences that have no other possible explanation other than Christ’s triumph over the grave. Learn about these occurrences with your children and combine them with your study of the historical Jesus. As St. Josemaria Escriva said, “Yes, this is still the age of miracles: we too would work them if we had faith!”
The Lie: Christianity preys on the weak and the ignorant
The Remedy: Study the heroes of our faith
When I think of the holy men and women who have come before us, weak and ignorant are just about the last modifiers to come to mind. Some of the most courageous, knowledgeable people I know of have been solid, faithful Christians, to say nothing of the Blesseds and the Saints.
Teach your children about Mother Angelica, the feisty, hilarious sister who build a Catholic media empire from the ground up. Learn about Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, and St. Catherine of Siena – hardworking women who fought wars on and off the battlefield. Delve into the childhoods of the Martin children, whose headstrong behavior and toddler antics are legendary.
If you want to talk weak and ignorant, don’t look at the annals of Christian history. You aren’t going to find them there.
The Lie: Christianity is anti-intellectual and anti-science
The Remedy: Study Christian intellectual giants
Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’ve been duped. It means you’ve owned and accepted the truth of Christ Jesus after sussing out for yourself the existence of God.
Need proof? Read the work of Christianity’s great writers and thinkers: St. Teresa of Avila, Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Connor, and GK Chesterton to name a few. I could go on – there’s CS Lewis, Tolkien, and a slew of others throughout history. We need to share their stories and age-appropriate writing with our children so they have firsthand knowledge of Christian academics, to say nothing of the Catholic scientists who were pioneers in their fields:
- George Lemaitre: Catholic priest and father of the “Big Bang” theory. A contemporary and associate of Einstein.
- Gregor Mendel: Augustinian friar and father of modern genetics. Punnet squares, anyone?
- Giuseppe Mercalli: Catholic priest and inventor of the Mercalli scale, still used to measure volcanic activity.
- Sister Mary Kenneth Keller: Sister of Charity and the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science. Was a pioneer in the computer science field.
The Lie: Christianity is Anti-Sex
The Remedy: Teach your children about the Theology of the Body
In September of 1979, Pope St. John Paul the Great began a series of 129 lectures on the integrated Catholic view of the human person:
His reflections are based on Scripture and contain a vision of the human person truly worthy of man. Emphasizing the theme of love as self-gift, they counteract societal trends which view the body as an object of pleasure or as a machine for manipulation. (theologyofthebody.net)
What does this mean for our children? That we are made in the image and likeness of God. That our bodies are good and holy and the marital union is a gift from God to humanity. In return, we are to respond to one another with the gift of donative love.
It is never too early to teach our kids the philosophy behind the Theology of the Body. There are excellent books on the topic appropriate for every age. If we are to upend the culture of death that views sex and sexuality as recreational vehicles, our kids need to know the truth.
Yes, my daughters were 10 and six the first time they had to defend their faith. It has happened again, it will happen again, and it will happen to your kids, too. But there is one missing piece to this puzzle I haven’t yet let onto, and that is the final lie Kelly talks about. It is the key to outfitting our children in the armor of God to prepare them for the battle.
Read Kelly’s book and be inspired to begin your own spiritual multiplication.
Lies about Christianity have been perpetuated from generation to generation. They won’t stop until we move forward against them, and that starts with preparing our kids.
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