When should you start teaching a child to think theologically about the world in which he or she lives?

I got a forwarded message today (I'm well aware that could mean that this book isn't even real, but it still raises a real issue) about a new book called Conversations with God.  The email warns us to not let our kids read the book because it pretends to be from God when the answers a far from biblical!  For example, the email tells me, the book tells of one conversation between God and a lesbian where God apparently tells the girl he made her a lesbian so it's ok!  In another conversation about forgiveness apparently God says he doesn't forgive because no one needs forgiveness...  The email continues on and on telling me about how bad the author of the book is and how we must gaurd our children against being fed filth from the world.

Anyhow, this led me to wonder... why do we want to protect our children so much from this stuff?  There comes a time when children will have to interact with all sorts of crazy ideas about God, and if they are not equipped to interact with the world, to critic things from a theological persepective, then they have a weak faith.  I think if I was a parent I would be tempted to get this book, read it to my kids and get them to tell me what they think about it... I would then offer them God's actual perspective and teach them that we can only know what God really thinks about something through reading the Bible.

The same sort of issue arrises when we talk about sex.  Christians get all hung up on protecting children from sex.  Little do they know that unless you keep your child in a box inside your house, they will never be protected.  Kids at church or at school will start feeding them ideas abotu sex.  That's why it's important for youth ministries to talk about sex.  It's far better they talk about sex in church than in the school yard!

All in all, the attitude in this email does not reflect the kind of attitude I think we should have as Christians.  I think we want to teach, from a young age, people how to interact with their society.  In doing this, we create people who are able to more easily contextualise the message of the Gospel, which is what I think the church is seriously unable to do in many of it's current structures and mindsets.

The other thing I would say to you, if you hold this view, is that you have too high a view of the church.  The church has wolves in it, and it has sinners in it!  So, by protecting them from the outside world, and just teaching them to blindly accept whatever comes out of the church as good, is also setting them up for failure and attack!

We must teach our kids to think theologically about the world.  To intereact with culture and critque things from their growing understanding of who Jesus is and what the Bible teaches us!