7 Things Christian Parents Can Learn From
the Tim Lambesis Story
By Natasha Crain
A pretty shocking story has been making the rounds lately: Tim Lambesis, lead singer of Christian metal band As I Lay Dying, was convicted of attempting to hire a hitman to murder his estranged wife and recently confessed he had become an atheist. He and other band members had continued to claim they were Christians so they could keep selling albums to Christian fans.
Lambesis recently did a fascinating tell-all interview with Alternative Press magazine, in which he described (amongst many other things) his journey from Christianity to atheism. He grew up in a Christian family, went to a Christian high school, attended a Christian college, sang in a Christian band, married a Christian woman and later adopted three children from Ethiopia. It wasn’t for lack of exposure to Christian ideas that he lost his faith.
The eye-opening details he offered about his experience can teach Christian parents a lot. Here are seven important take-aways from the interview.
[Note that Lambesis is reportedly rethinking his atheism, so in some of these quotes you’ll see him reflecting critically on his deconversion.]
1. Kids need to understand the secular nature of the academic world before they get to college.
Lambesis: “I was a philosophy major in college. I thought it was something I’d enjoy that would help me grasp what people are thinking in order for me to help people better understand Christianity. I thought I would learn how to defend the faith. I was naïve.”
Freshman philosophy professors are notorious for starting the semester by announcing that there is no God. Lambesis went to a Christian college, so presumably the views would not be so skewed toward atheism, but clearly he wasn’t prepared for what he encountered even in that context. Academia is overwhelmingly hostile to Christianity and teenagers headed to college need to be prepared for where and how they’ll encounter that hostility before they get there. Sending kids to a Christian college is not a substitute for that preparation.
2. Kids need solid critical thinking skills to evaluate worldviews.
Lambesis: “I ended up touring, so I finished it up through a distance study program. I switched from philosophy to religious studies, as they wouldn’t let me do philosophy via distance learning. I’d get three pages of the traditional evangelical conservative point of view, then three paragraphs or sometimes even just three sentences from the atheist perspective. But even in just a few sentences, I’d think, “This point of view makes more sense,” even when it wasn’t being well represented. In the process of trying to defend my faith, I started thinking the other point of view was the stronger one.”
All of our children will eventually see Christianity side-by-side with other worldviews (if they haven’t already). Some, like Lambesis, will see these worldviews formally compared in an academic setting. Others will see the comparison play out over time in their day-to-day exposures to the secular world. But regardless of when and how the comparisons come, our kids will use some kind of evaluation criteria (consciously or not) to determine what is true. What criteria they use will make all the difference in the world for their spiritual outcome. In this case, Lambesis concluded the atheist point of view made more sense based on his (unstated) criteria at the time.
It is our responsibility as parents to not simply teach our kids about Christian belief, but to teach our kids the critical thinking skills needed to evaluate Christian belief in the context of other worldviews…