The people next door got a dog last year and he hasn’t quit barking since. Their cute, yipping puppy has matured into a rangy, howling hound; his voice has deepened and it takes a heavier chain now to hold him, but otherwise the racket remains the same.

It is not they they haven’t tried to train the dog. In fact, his training has been most effective. After he barks for an hour or so, the girl comes out of the house ordering, “Sit! Stay! Come!” and lectures him on why he shouldn’t make so much noise. Then she throws a ball for the ecstatic animal to chase and goes back inside.

The dog is no dummy. He has learned what he’s been taught; if he barks long enough, someone will eventually come out and play ball with him.

One recent Sunday, I sympathized with my dog neighbor when I read still another anticult advertisement—and they are numerous. If you use the material offered (the ads promise), you will save your students from the false teachings of pseudo-Christian groups; these books or pamphlets will reveal the whole grim story. Usually the ads include an urgent testimonial: we’ve got to teach our kids what these cults believe.

The admonition is correct, of course; Christians should help people know truth. The assumption is what scares me: that being told what cults believe is sufficient to insure against believing them. In other words, the young person who is taught enough about a false cult will reject it.

On that same recent morning, I tangled with a junior high Sunday school class raised in the “tell them what’s right” teaching method. We are new to each other, and as we study the Bible I have been asking my students for their interpretations. The kids are rebelling. All their previous Sunday school teachers just gave them the ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: