Recently the interweb was all a-flutter (and probably all a-twitter) about a professor at a notable university who wrote a paper titled "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife," about an ancient, business card-sized piece of papyrus that held fragments of Coptic sentences that seem to allude to a woman having some sort of affiliation with the disciples and Jesus.
This isn't the first time people will claim to have new, never-before-seen-footage of the life of Christ, and it won't be the last. Every so often some new scroll, parchment or document is discovered that offers a sensationalist outlook on religion.
I find it somewhat ironic that the cry of, "All this time we've been believing the wrong thing!" typically comes from those who seem to spend very little time pondering their actual beliefs.
Ideas like these are the "skinny jeans" of religion -- they're trendy, but never comfortable enough to actually live with for long. When the novelty of these newfound notions wears off, they slink unnoticed off the New York Times best-sellers list, and we forget about them until they show up in the bargain bin at Walmart, next to "The Atkins Diet" and "Chicken Soup for the Biophysicist Engineer Cat-Lover's Soul."
Never miss a local story.
What is a parent to do, though, when their children hear a snippet of "20/20"'s exposè on "debunking every religious idea proposed in the last 2000 years" or see the headlines on line in the grocery store that claim, "Jesus and Abraham Lincoln Were Zombies!"
In an age when anyone can and will share his or her ideas, it's important to be grounded and not be negatively influenced by whatever random thought floats across the news or newsfeed.
In the gospel of Matthew, Christ shares the parable of the sower who planted seed on a path, on rocky ground, thorns and rich soil. It was the rich soil that "produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold" (Matthew 13:8).
He explained that this parable describes how people receive and retain the word of God.
He explained that the seed sown on the rocky ground is "the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away" (Matthew 13:20-21).
In other words, it can be easy to embrace the idea of religion initially. However, when the world throws conflicting ideas and opinions at us, we can find ourselves wavering.
To prepare children -- and ourselves -- for these inevitable "tribulations and persecutions" that the Gospel of Matthew speaks of, we need to be sure that the seeds of faith are sown on rich -- not rocky -- soil. I'm no gardener, but I do know that in my spiritual life, I've found that reading and praying with the words and traditions that have been around for 2,000 years -- not two days on the Internet -- have given me a foundation that helps me discern the value of trends in religion.
It is important to be grounded in the words and deeds that have stood the test of time. Memorization of Scripture and truths of faith, reading spiritual classics by Augustine and C.S. Lewis, personal prayer and regular participation in communal worship (a fancy way of saying "going to church on Sunday"), creates the rich-rock-free soil that nourishes faith and gives one the clarity to say, "Yes, this new book on the Ten Commandments is good for me while this tabloid claiming Noah's Ark was actually a canoe with an ant farm is not."
The world is full of information. Ground yourself in the truth to ensure that what you see and hear leads you to deeper faith, not doubt.