What's Under the Waterline Cover Image

What’s Under the Waterline?

By Natalie Witcher

RMS Titanic

The story of the unsinkable ship, RMS Titanic, still stands as one of the most devastating catastrophes in our current history. On the night of April 15, 1912, the Titanic was sailing by Newfoundland when an iceberg slammed into her starboard side. Under the waterline, the iceberg’s giant mass crashed into the hull, causing it to cave, allowing water to pour into the belly of the Titanic and breach five watertight compartments. The great Titanic sank down to the depths of the icy sea. 

This story paints a picture of apologetics and what it means for parents. That is, our lives and how we engage with others is the “tip of the iceberg” regarding our biblical knowledge. What’s “under the waterline” is subversive wisdom and knowledge ready with love and grace to sink the “titanic” issues that parents and children face today in our culture.

Why is this important?

Picture an iceberg. Above the waterline, we know we are limited to what we can see. We see a portion of what is actually there. In fact, nearly 90% of an iceberg is submerged. The bulk of what we see is hidden, but effective, powerful, and devastating to ships that come in contact with it. 

Likewise, what most people see and interact with is the top 10% of who we are. Our lives are full of work, school, schedules, parties, friends, sports, medical needs, and a million other things. These are the “above the waterline” traits of who we are. Our behaviors in our society represent the small, 10% portion of who we are. 

Underneath, the 90% of who we are and of what we believe, is where the strength of our faith resides. This portion of our “iceberg” holds our worldview, our answers to what is true and real, our values and beliefs. It’s not likely that you will get into the discussion of penal substitutionary atonement while sitting at a hot baseball game, but what if, under your waterline, you had a massive iceberg of knowledge and wisdom so that when your Christ-like behavior causes others to ask you a question, you have an answer? 

What if you are sitting at a hot baseball game and something comes up about gender equality or someone asks about your church or your thoughts on race? What would you do? Are you confident that you have an iceberg of knowledge about what Scripture says in order to correctly and gently handle such topics? 

What I propose is that we see the opportunity to build a large, faith-filled, reasonable, honest, fair, and true iceberg of biblical knowledge as we live and move and interact with others so that we will be equipped to handle even the most titanic of issues. 

How do we do this?

A recent survey by the American Bible Society outlined how often Christians read and engaged with the Bible in the beginning of 2022. They then compared the results to 2021. Their research showed a “10-percent decrease from the same time in 2021.” That means nearly 26 million Americans reduced or stopped their interaction with Scripture in the past year.”[1] 

Twenty Six million! As a society, there is no doubt that we have been through the ringer. Many of us are tired and uncertain of the future. Many of us simply can’t think about one more thing. But let’s look at the positive. We have new opportunities to re-engage with the Word of God. As we emerge from the pandemic, as we come back and re-evaluate our positions, our lives, and our beliefs, let’s also see the incredible need for men and women to return to the important task of knowing and studying the Word of God and being equipped to teach it to our children. 

The American Bible Society’s research showed the top reasons Americans are not reading the  Bible. The top reason among Gen Z and Millenials is, “I don’t know where to start.”[2] Among all age groups, the most common answer was, “I don’t have enough time.”[3] This demonstrates that people aren’t engaging with Scripture because they lack the time and because they simply don’t know where to begin.

Here are a few ways to remedy some of the most common reasons why people are disengaged from reading and studying the Bible: 

Make time. We make time for many things. We make time to eat, sleep, exercise, go to movies, watch TV, and relax. There are time restraints: work, school, etc. Some things we choose and others are just simply a part of life. However, it’s imperative that we make time for one of the most important things in our lives: our understanding of what we believe and why we believe it.

Read the Bible. While this may sound obvious or silly, it really is rather profound. I began reading the Bible from the beginning over the past year. There is something to be said about simply putting a Bible on your desk or in your lap and reading it. Just simply read it. Read it for its content and then think about what you’ve read for a day or two. Ask simple questions of the text as you go. For example, “What does this text teach me about God?” Then, answer the question and jot down your observations. 

Learn how to study the Bible. As a high school Bible teacher, I’ve told my students that to study the Word of God they’ll need to put effort into the task. Because we are reading an ancient text, written in ancient languages, formed in ancient cultures, we are wise to utilize reliable resources that help us rightly handle God’s Word. Books such as How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart offer sound principles for keeping us on track, while resources such as commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and a concordance help us to understand the larger context of our reading. Another resource, blueletterbible.org, provides help with the original biblical languages and historical context. You may even consider auditing a hermeneutics course through a local or online seminary, downloading the free Logos Bible Software, or reading articles like this one from The Navigators which provides a structured format to our study that guides us in drawing out the true meaning of the text (exegesis) rather than reading our own ideas into the text (eisegesis).  

Study apologetics. Now we’ve come to it! Apologetics is simply a defense of what we believe. Again, we cannot defend what we do not know. Use Women in Apologetics’s resources. Do quick google searches on those ministries referenced here and spend time learning how to defend what you know. There are many online resources, books, seminars, videos, and podcasts available to help you grow in your knowledge of apologetics. You may also want to look into some online courses. Check out our WIA Academy page for our courses and our list of recommended programs.

Talk with your children. As I was teaching this year’s Bible class, I realized my students simply didn’t know the stories in Scripture! Most of the church youth content focused on various character-building teachings, or using the Bible to manage our feelings and needs. While there is indeed a place for the Word of God to speak to and change our feelings, needs, and desires, the primary issue I found with my students was simply ignorance of the scope and sequence of Scripture itself. 

  • Talk with your kids about the Bible. What is in it? Who wrote it? What is its purpose? Where did we get it? Why is it important?
  • Talk with them about the actual content of the Bible. What are the main stories? What are some of the main themes? Who are some important people? What do we learn about God when we read from the text?
  • Use simple inductive study with your kids. Read a small portion of the text, then discuss what it teaches you about God, what it teaches you about humanity, and what it can do to change your life or inform your beliefs. Discuss how to be obedient to what you’ve read, or discuss what your children find challenging about the text. 

Titanic Issues of Our Day

As a parent, it’s worth making the time to really know what you believe and why you believe it. This kind of foundational system of beliefs will be your strength as you help your children grow up in the culture. As giant issues approach us, we can be incredibly well-equipped with God’s word. We can have a defense for what we believe–those gracious arguments of truth that reside deep in us so that our iceberg of faith will crash into the titanic worldview of the enemy and crush its hull. We want to allow the truth of God’s Word to sink and “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5). While we should know the word of God, we must also treat people “with gentleness and respect” as we respond to their questions and give a case for our belief (1 Peter 3:15-16). 

In order for us to parent our children well in apologetics, we must first manage our time and knowledge of the Bible well. Then, we must take the time ourselves to learn reasonable and logical apologetics for our beliefs. This will be our strength as we wade with our children through the waters of uncertainty and we will find we are ready. 

Things To Think About

  • What are you contributing to the 90% under the waterline? 
  • Do you know what you believe and why you believe it?
  • How does what you believe and why you believe it affect your behavior (that 10% above the waterline)?

[1] Jeffery Fulks, Randy Peterson, and John Farquhar Plake, State of the Bible: USA 2022 (American Bible Society, 2022), xii-xiii, accessed April 22, 2022, https://sotb.research.bible. Emphasis theirs.   

[2] Ibid., 26.

[3] Ibid.

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