on October 7, 2009
Can I start this review with the story of how Big Truths for Young Hearts came to be? It's origin is in the bedside discussions Bruce Ware had with his two daughters when they were children.
"I began," Ware writes, "in those early years spending ten to fifteen minutes with each of our daughters at their bedside, going through the doctrines of the Christian faith." What he was doing was teaching them the same systematic theology he taught at seminary, but gearing it toward his children. His daughters are now adults, and they encouraged their father to write a book based on his bedtime talks with them, so he did.
The result a good gift to the church, especially to parents who wish to teach the faith to their children. As far as I know, there is nothing else like it--a systematic theology for children. There are, of course, children's catechisms, but catechisms focus more on what is so and less on why it is so. A systematic theology gives us the reasons and tells us how everything fits together. If your kids are like mine were, they want to know the reasoning behind the doctrines, and that's what you'll provide when you read this book to them.
Big Truths for Young Hearts contains six sections--Bibliology through Eschatology--but with child-friendly titles instead of the technical theological terms. The section that contains Bibiology and Theology Proper, for instance, is called God's Word and God's Own Life as God. Each section has six short chapters, two or three pages each, explaining and defending a doctrinal truth, finishing up with two questions for discussion and a memory verse or two.
There may be a few places, depending on your own viewpoint, where you will disagree with what Ware teaches. He is baptistic, for instance, so if you are a paedobaptist, you'll disagree with some of what he writes on baptism, but I think you'll find he is fair in his explanation of your view.
A couple of mothers I know are reading this to children 6-8 years old with good success, but if I were to give a minimum age where I'd expect most children to understand all of the content, I'd go with an age a little older than that--9 or 10, perhaps. Children a few years younger will probably understand enough of the content to justify purchasing the book and choosing appropriate sections to read.
But here's the thing: This book is good for everyone. I enjoyed reading it for myself and I'm not exactly a newbie to the doctrines of Christianity. If you hid the cover of the book and changed a few of the illustrations, this would make an excellent resource for teaching teens, young adults or even older adults. There are, you know, more than a few believers who don't know the basics of Christian doctrine, which is why I'd like to see Bruce Ware edit the content of Big Truths for Young Hearts a little and publish it as a simple theology for adults.
Big Truths for Young Hearts gets the highest recommendation I've given a book in a long time. (The last book I've recommended this highly might be the only other book by Ware that I've read--his Father, Son and Holy Spirit.) If you have kids 10 or up, you need this book. Even if you are confident in your knowledge of theology and your ability to explain it to your children, I'm betting you'll find Ware's explanations helpful to you. If you teach Sunday School to upper elementary aged kids, you'll want this book for reference. If you teach youth, you would probably find this book useful as w
Last month, I have won the prize for bloggers at Crossway which was 25$ on the online store. After much thinking, I choose a book and funny enough I had picked the next book that will be sent to bloggers. I was advice of this and was able to select another book since I was going to receive Big Truth for Young Hearts shortly after.
When I first became a Christian - some 12 years ago - I started thinking about how I would teach my kids about God and Jesus Christ. I worried a bit about it simply because I wasn't coming from a Christian family. I would have to learn from scratch almost. My husband on the other hand had been raised with some Christian values.
I didn't have to worry because to explain the basis of Christianity it is quite simple. However, when you come to more theological aspects of things, anyone might wonder where to start. Well, I am happy to tell you that someone already thought about it and wrote a book for you.
New on the market is Big Truths for Young Hearts written by Bruce A. Ware. The book is supposed to encourage and enable parents of children 6-14 years old to teach through the theology in an understandable, chapter-a-day format. However, I find that 6 years old might be a little too young... especially for children for which the attention span might be short. I can see myself doing a chapter-a-day with my 8th year old son who is able to concentrate on things that is read to him. However, my soon-to-be 6 year old son would have difficulties.
Nevertheless, I decided to dig into this interesting book to discover more about it. The chapters are divided in 9 sections; God's Word and God's Own Life as God, God as Three in One, Creator and Ruler of All, Our Human Nature and Our Sin, Who Jesus Is, The Work That Jesus Has Done, The Holy Spirit, Our Great Salvation and The Church of Jesus Christ. As you can see, it is not easy subjects to talk about with children. But questions might arise about some specific one like - What is the trinity? What is sin? What is baptism? And so on.
I find that the author explains in simple terms as well as with illustrations the concepts approached in this book. I see our family using this book as part of our homeschool year and I am planning to sit down with my oldest son during the nap time and go through this book slowly. I want to make sure that he will understand the theology presented in the book. Not only will he learn more about God but I suspect that I will too.
To top it off, at the end of each chapter, you will find some questions to help you discuss the chapter with your child. There is also a memory verse which you can decide to learn as a family together. What a great way to instill a good habit in our children and in ourselves. The Bible does mention about keeping God's word in our heart.
On this Remembrance Day, I was doing my chapter of the book Power of a Praying Woman and wrote on facebook about Psalm 103 and the reasons to praise God. Funny enough while digging in Big Truths for Young Hearts, I come across the chapter God Provides All good Things in the World which also mentions Psalm 103. Is it a coincidence? I think not because in the struggles we are experiencing with our business we need to be reminded to praise Him in all circumstances - no matter what is going on. I definitively got a confirmation of my previous lesson when I read that chapter.
I strongly recommend Big Truths for Young Hearts for any families who want to give a solid base of theology to their children.
The doctrinal quality of the titles published by Crossway never fail to amaze me, and Big Truths for Young Hearts has only served to cement my opinion. Theologian Bruce A. Ware has penned a work that attempts to capture the bedtime conversations he had with his own adult daughters (now grown), so that parents can step up to the plate in equipping their own children to understand the great, fundamental truths of the faith.
Ware writes from a distinctly Reformed perspective though classic Calvinistic terms familiar to believers aren't often seen throughout the text. For our family, this work is a Godsend; new believers are often ill-equipped due to a lack of sound doctrinal instruction in the church as a whole, and Big Truths is just what we needed to guide us through the big questions our children ask us. Ware's work is essential for any parent, or new believer seeking to beef up on the main tenets upon which Christianity stands.
Broken into nine major topics, Big Truths provides six three-page readings for each major section. At the end of each reading a memory verse and questions for discussion with your children are provided. You can look forward to tackling 'God's Word and God's Own Life as God', 'God as Three in One', 'Creator and Ruler of All', 'Our Human Nature and Our Sin', 'Who Jesus Is', 'The Work that Jesus Has Done', 'The Holy Spirit', 'Our Great Salvation', 'The Church of Jesus Christ', 'What Will Take Place in the End'.
While written for children age nine and over, Ware can't entirely break free of the language of theologians. Though he does try to simplify complex subjects for young ones, he still reads like the professor of Christian theology that he is.
Here we'll consider three key ideas that try to explain why the cross of Christ was needed. Each of these must be a part of explaining the cross, but only as we put these together do we have a full explanation for the cross of Christ. We're familiar with these ideas, but seeing them together here is important both for understanding the need for the cross and for understanding the gospel.
The above excerpt could just as easily be drawn from a simple book on doctrine for adult believers. As a result, parents may wish to read through the relevant reading several times in order to familiarize themselves with the key points, in order to paraphrase or summarize as necessary.
Ware's text is filled with scriptural references, and all of the doctrine he puts forth is grounded firmly upon the Word of God. Though the text is Reformed in nature, and Ware teaches at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he's careful to hold only to what the scriptures state and avoids extra biblical standards. Ware takes care to point out that varying points of view exist on baptism, though he puts forth a case for baptism by immersion. He also notes that believers differ on matters of spiritual gifts and briefly touches upon both positions without adding value judgments.
A firm foundation based upon the clear teachings of God's Word prevents confusion and the adoption of fallacious beliefs concerning the nature of God, salvation, the trinity, and the final destinations of those who die. With solid doctrinal understanding of Christian doctrine on the decline, Big Truths is my first recommendation for families in which any member of the family ' large or small ' is in need of instruction.
on October 21, 2009
I recently read this book as part of an on going search to find a resource that didn't talk down to children and boil the truths of scripture down to a bunch of stories and moralisms. Kids can understand far more than we often give them credit for and can wrestle with bigger issues than often allow them. This book takes two things seriosly, the need to properly educate our children in matters of faith and our children's ability to grasp these truths.
In reading this book I found that it was written at a reading level that I feel is appropriate to read to young children as well as give to teen and even adults. I have a seminary education and have read books much thicker than this on the same topics and yet in reading I did not feel I was being talked down to, with the exception of a few of the illustrations he gives.
Each section is broken down into 2 or 3 page sub-sections that deal with a specific truth. They are concise and come with a couple discussion questions at the end. This is a book that we will use in our own home and one that I will hardily recommend to those I minister to.