This text is a part of the 5 Myths collection.
We Are Theology Practitioners
First issues first: Everyone seems to be training some type of theology—together with our youngsters. Whether or not we all know it or not, our youngsters are theologians as a result of God made them to be theologians. The query for Christian dad and mom, church members, and pals is, How will we assist kids be good theologians?
To begin, one in every of first issues we have to do is overcome some potential stereotypes relating to the connection between children and theology. Briefly, we have to break a couple of myths—myths we’ve confronted ourselves whereas rising up, or myths we’ve merely neglected, or even perhaps some we’ve perpetuated on our personal.
To assist our youngsters changing into sound theologians, let’s consider a couple of of those and see what God has to say about them.
Fable #1: Youngsters don’t need theology.
This primary fable finds its roots in the concept that theology at all times needs to be stuffy and boring. And although there may be some fact on this fable (let’s be trustworthy, the church usually struggles in exhibiting us how stunning and joyful theology will be), the issue appears to be extra in apply than in supply. In different phrases, theologians are the issue, not God. God is the inventive one—he invented enjoyable and creativeness and he fills his creation with each. He even creates us and our youngsters to be inventive and imaginative like him.
Theology doesn’t have to be stuffy and boring. As an alternative, we are able to take our youngsters again to the supply supplies—to the tales of Scripture stuffed with drama, humor, suspense, wickedness, and intrigue. We will inform our youngsters tales from church historical past that may overwhelm, excite, and go away them desirous to know extra.
However, maybe essentially the most humbling, we are able to let our youngsters assist us rethink and reexamine our theology too. Among the greatest theological questions posed are people who come streaming via the creativeness of a kid—an creativeness that grown-ups have usually forgotten.
So, it’s not that children don’t need theology, it’s that they could not need our imaginative and prescient of God as a result of our imaginative and prescient of God isn’t as massive as theirs is anymore.
Fable #2: Youngsters can’t deal with theology.
Subsequent, many people suppose that theology is simply too advanced for kids. We discover that theology requires a sure mental sophistication to be grasped, one which our youngsters don’t have. The pondering is, what child can grasp the Trinity or the hypostatic union? Why ought to we overwhelm our little ones with such weighty topics?
However that’s the issue, proper? It doesn’t must be overwhelming—however much more what’s the issue with being overwhelmed by our infinite Lord? Isn’t that the place all of us ought to stand? Moreover, what grownup may give a full account of the Trinity or a whole description of the hypostatic union?
We don’t withhold addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division from our youngsters as a result of they’ll’t do calculus or trigonometry. No, we begin math with the hopes that our youngsters will have the ability to advance into extra advanced theorems and equations. And so it needs to be with theology (1 Tim 4:12). It’s not that our youngsters can’t deal with theology, it’s that we don’t give them credit score and, in some ways, we haven’t thought via a correct development of educating our youngsters theological truths in ways in which correspond with their improvement.
Everyone seems to be training some type of theology—together with our youngsters
Fable #3: Youngsters don’t have any place of their lives for theology.
Third, the modern world says that theology is pointless as a result of it isn’t as necessary as different issues in our lives. The world strikes too quick, our calendars are too full, there are too many reveals on Netflix, and there are too many video video games to play. College curriculums inform us what we actually want. We’re so busy that we’ve turned “truth” into soundbites and farmed out faith to the pastor and the youth leaders for Sundays solely. We now not have time—and because the tradition preaches, no want—for both us or our youngsters to do a “deep dive” into the deep issues of God.
Now, this fable is constructed on a false assumption: that theology is much less necessary than the issues of this world. We’re so busy making our youngsters busy that we don’t even acknowledge what is basically and eternally vital. As an alternative, we’re so caught up in constructing our child’s earthly resumes for earthly fortunes that we’ve forgotten to inform our youngsters in regards to the residing hope that results in an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance saved in heaven (1 Pet. 1:3–4).
We have to right this assumption for ourselves and our youngsters. As a result of after we make God-centered theology peripheral, we make true pleasure and happiness peripheral too. After we say there isn’t a time for theology, we educate them that worldly idols are worthy of their time when figuring out God in Christ via the Spirit isn’t.
Fable #4: Youngsters can get their theology from another person.
This fable begins with the methods we’ve realized to outsource our non secular lives. We now go away issues as much as the “experts.” We go away theology to the theologians, sermons to pastors, and youth ministry to youth ministers.
Now, as dad and mom, we now have to come back to grips with why we do that. Sure, the tradition teaches us to belief specialists however there are in all probability deeper causes. Maybe we discover it too tough to suppose onerous about theological concepts ourselves. Or maybe we don’t suppose we now have time to ponder who God is and what he does for us. Or perhaps we don’t suppose we now have the chops to reply our child’s questions on our religion.
However it doesn’t must be this manner.
Right here’s the factor: children will get their theology from someplace. The query isn’t if they’ll ask about God, the query is the place they’ll discover their solutions. The large questions are at all times there, particularly within the hearts of our youngsters, and the world is at all times on the cultural altar prepared and keen to (mis)lead them into irreverent worship.
Now, we might by no means go away our youngsters alone and unsupervised within the ocean, would we? Why then would we go away them to combat the currents of our tradition on their very own? We have to stroll with our youngsters, even when it’s tough, even once they (or we) don’t need it. Not as a result of we now have all of the solutions, however as a result of we all know the One who does. Our kids don’t need specialists, they need dad and mom who love them and who will take care of them and assist them with their massive questions on God and life.
Fable #5: Theology is the top in itself.
Now for the opposite finish of the spectrum: there are those that love theology and educate their children to like theology too. Nonetheless, they do it for the improper causes. They love theology merely for theology’s sake.
And that’s the fable: that theology is for data alone—that figuring out all the correct solutions to God is the objective of our life and our youngsters’s lives. However that’s the issue. After we do that, we educate our youngsters to like theology for their very own pleasure; we educate our youngsters to make use of theology to wield theological authority over others.
However this usually results in one thing a lot worse. We educate our youngsters that theology can be utilized, not solely to train authority over others however that our theology may even train authority over God himself. You see, if God is on the “operating table” of their mind and our theological commitments, then we are able to start to suppose that we stand over him and are in a position to management him.
And right here is the corrective: Theology isn’t the purpose—worship is. And we have to educate this to our personal hearts in addition to to our youngsters’s hearts. To place it one other manner, doctrine ought to at all times lead us and our youngsters to God himself. We have to assist our youngsters get their motives and assumptions proper. We have to assist them pursue theology to seek out God relationally whereas serving to them see that none of us can ever grasp God in full. And that ought to make each coronary heart, irrespective of its age, sing as a result of it units us all up for a lifetime of looking for and praising God in a manner that by no means will get outdated or boring as a result of that worship can have no finish, right this moment or eternally.
Ryan Lister is the creator of Emblems of the Infinite King: Enter the Information of the Dwelling God.