Have you Inherited your Parents’ Theology?

"Early Inheritance" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Early Inheritance” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward


Of course parents should teach their children what they know and what they believe to be true.

We did. As our parents did for us.

But at some point I needed to be able to be able to understand that whatever theology I inherited, it was my right at some point to reject it, change it, or keep it.

It’s so much easier to just believe what we’re told to believe.

It’s easier because the religion told our forbearers what to believe, our parents inherited it and our parents before them, and then we inherited it. So to reject our parents’ theology is seen to reject our ancestors and our religion. There’s enormous pressure to keep the ball rolling.

Which, unfortunately, is why so many people are rejected by their parents and the church. They refused to play the game, disappointed their team, and dropped the ball.

I suggest that any theology worth anything has emerged out of a profound religious or spiritual event. First, there is the experience, then the articulation of it. First, there is the revelation, then there is the theology.

But now, we believe the theology and hope to have the experience. Not many people dare go beyond the words and the beliefs to see what’s actually there… what is actually true.

Few are willing to explore what might be beyond belief.


You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. Caryn LeMur says:

    It is sad that parents may retaliate when a child rejects their teachings.

    It is quite understandable for the parents to grieve… but they are adults, and should recover.

    We must raise our children to think. And teaching them to think does mean that they are free to accept or reject.

  2. yes i like that. permission to grieve but recovery.

  3. Kristin says:

    I didn’t do this (hand-me-down faith) – I mean they came to church when we went, and I talked about my own faith. But I guess because my faith was born of experience I am reluctant to try to give them second-hand faith. I have encouraged them to be open-minded and to see complexity rather than black and white, to explore.

    My two older kids (20 & 15) avoid church and have done for some time since my ex-husband (who became a follower of Christ after we married, as did I) made them go to church when they were with him for weekends. They are both strong-minded and -willed young people, so refusal was always the inevitable result.

    Also I no longer feel comfortable (or challenged) in churches generally – so we (my youngest and I) don’t go.

    I figure if God found me and convinced me that whether I believed or not he/she believes in and loves me, then my kids have a good chance of being “found” too!

  4. Thanks for sharing your story Kristin. I think many parents are watching their children follow a different path. I think you are handling it well. I think I am.