Friday, July 18, 2008

Help Ma Boab

The title of this post refers to a unique Scottish expression of disbelief - as perpetuated by that well known Dundee based family - The Broons.
Help Ma Boab! (cried Daphne)
I've just read some suggestions for doctrinal books for children from a non-UK blog (she says tactfully). The person who put this list together clearly has no affinity with a child's world and that's really all I am going to say.

I found two of John Stott's books suggested for Third Years (age 13-14)
I'm not saying that John Stott writes loftily (I freely admit I had to read The Cross of Christ slowly and carefully. It had lots of pages and small print. And my SP's copy had a broken spine so I had to make like sudoko and get the pages to add up to something corresponding to chapter and page numbers) but check out an example of an Intermediate 1 English paper and you will see what I mean. Print that off and put that side by side with The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther (recommended for 14 year olds).

But I'm being unfair. This list may have been compiled for third and fourth years who have been privately educated or homeschooled and who will read at a higher level than the majority of children. I can't help but admit my bias, which is often tilted towards the low achiever, the one with less positive life chances, the one looked down upon or forgotten. I can't help but love on them...and be passionate about wanting knowledge of our wonderful God to be theirs too.

I get quite frustrated sometimes when things about God are made inaccessible by our wordiness or lengthiness and I am getting more certain that the time is coming in my life when I may attempt to write a series of booklets to explain a little more about theology and doctrine at a child's level of reading and comprehension. I have spent a pretty long time thinking that I just don't have the ability to do this but I'm beginning to think - "well, why not? Why not combine my years in teaching, my knowledge of children's human and spiritual development, my theological qualification-to-be, my present practice and my feel for the "gap" in information and just give it a go?" If it's rubbish, I can take being told that.

There is so much bias out there in theology anyway, can I attempt to present some information on the meaning of salvation and the atonement from all angles (much like one of my favourite books does, which I have raved about before: The Nature of the Atonement) because children can understand pictures a little easier than adults at times? A child of 5-7 is capable of understanding the healing metaphor of the atonement (hat tip to Joel Green), s/he understands the principles of substitution (he took my place), s/he understands market place and courtroom pictures to explain the atonement; s/he understands Christus Victor theory in that she knows that Jesus defeated God's enemy once and for all - in fact by the time a child reaches 8 or 9 years of age she or he can understand that many pictures can be used to explain what God has done through Jesus.

An 8 year old would agree that a "rainbow of metaphors" are possible. S/he wouldn't refuse to stand alongside someone that thought - and even spoke out about - another view of the meaning of the atonement. S/he probably wouldn't fall out with someone (and I do truly presume this has not happened in the real world today) because they thought that God sent his son to die because of X Y or Z. They would simply say "he loves me and I love him". We are to become like unsophisticated little children. Simplify.


  1. I say go for it!

  2. hey, thanks amie.
    I'm testing the water out with some material on another topic for Grove Books (little booklets. you'll be referred to lots of them at college) :-)

  3. I think I saw that book list too! It was certainly academically demanding, and there are some cracking fine reads listed in it, but not for the ages suggested in my experience of kids.

    Actually as a teenager I was held back a bit by trying to read books that were too advanced for me, not really grasping them and so failing to apply. I would have been better to ditch the intellectual pride and read stuff small enough for my brain!

  4. Sounds a really good idea to me! I agree about the atonement too - there are so many pictures which help us under stand the whole rainbow of meaning - and it is a delightful thing, a rainbow, is it not? And every now and then, you discover a different hue.

    Are you back from your trip, or are you writing from Canada?


    PS I am well aware you have tagged me and am planning to get round to it at some point when my brain is co-operating!! x

  5. thanks for your comments Mr Hideous. It's cool that you hung on in there with difficult to read/understand stuff as a teenager - and it seems to me that you have an amazing knack of bringing truths out clearly and simply :-)
    Sadly I have observed too many for whom inaccessible material has spelled the end of their desire to learn (and I'm talking about secular education. Concerns me when this is replicated in the church. Simplicity is at the heart of the gospel)

    Lucy, so good to hear from you. I've been back for 5 days and not yet got round with catch up reading on my blogs. Too many pants and socks needing washed, such is my exciting life.

    Back and into the fray of preparing to lead kids summer club, finish up 25 years in this church and empty cupboards and move house (help!)

  6. Ooh I have a Grove book already! (I'm so ahead of the times haha). I rather like them.

    M and I are both still up for that coffee when you're not too busy =)

  7. emailed you about meet up. Still got a songbook M wanted to get her at sunny Skegness!!

  8. Anonymous11:40 PM

    You have indeed got my song book and I owe you money!!!!
    In relation to this blog - you say you can't help but admit my bias, which is often tilted towards the low achiever, the one with less positive life chances, the one looked down upon or forgotten. Can I put in a plea here and say that in my experience with gifted and talented young people they too are frequently looked down upon or forgotten and often their life chances are not what they could be because their gifts and talents are not recognised, encouraged or challenged. Indeed they are actively thwarted. I think we need to be careful about what argument is being put forward here.
    In relation to book writing - go for it - anyone can do it!! Mx


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