Theology isn’t just for seminary students and pastors; it’s for everyone, including kids. Julie Melilli, author of Special God, shares why kids can and should learn theology:
Theology over Morality
Theology is a big, scary, intimidating word to some people, but really theology is just the study of God. So, theology is ultimately important for children to understand. When you understand theology—when you understand God—you can see how the thread of salvation runs all the way through the Bible’s stories, tying them all together.
So often Bible stories are used to teach moral lessons—to tell kids what not to do or what to do. And it is important that kids hear those lessons. For example, Adam and Eve and the story in the Garden can be a great way to teach kids about resisting temptation, obeying God, and what happens when we don’t obey God—all good lessons.
Salvation through Christ Alone
But when we just stick with those lessons, we’re missing the overarching story of salvation and the story that God came down to Adam and Eve when they had sinned and made a way for them to be made right—for them to be saved by him and have eternal life. That’s the story we need to be teaching our kids. That’s theology.
So, we start with theology, teaching them about who God is, how he’s holy, how we are not, and how we need him to forgive and save us through Jesus. When children understand that, then we can add Bible stories on that foundation to teach moral lessons, while also ultimately pointing them toward Christ for their salvation.
You don’t need to be a scholar to teach your kids theology; Melanie Lacy, editor of The New City Catechism Curriculum, shares: 8 Things to Remember When Teaching Kids Theology
1. Teaching theology to kids is teaching Scripture.
The charge to raise children in the knowledge and love of God is clearly given in the Bible (Deut. 6:6-7; Ps. 78:1-8), and teaching theology is one of the ways to fulfill that charge. The most pressing concern for those entrusted with the discipleship of children should be the faithful communication and application of God’s Word. The discipline of theology is simply the systematic correlation of biblical truths about God and all other things in relation to him. If children are learning these truths from infancy, it is able to make them wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15). So teaching kids theology always means teaching them the Bible.
2. Teaching theology to kids helps them read the Bible better.
When children read the Bible, they bring their thought systems, assumptions, presuppositions, and proclivities to the text; they read Scripture through the lens of whatever theology they’ve imbibed. By teaching kids theology, we are making those things explicit, subjecting them to scrutiny, and making sure that the system they bring to any biblical passage is biblically informed. Knowing theology helps kids read their Bibles better.
3. Teaching theology to kids is a life-orientating gift.
From the moment children are born, they are seeking to make sense of the world around them. As they develop, they begin to create a matrix of meaning related to life, which eventually forms a framework through which they interact with and assess every experience. By teaching children theology from a young age, we nurture the formation of a biblical worldview and guide them towards living a life orientated to God and motivated by his salvific mission in the world.
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SOURCE: Crosswalk, Melanie Lacy and Julie Melilli