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N.T. Wright for Children?

2008 March 3
by Julie Clawson

I finished reading N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope recently and have been pondering its implication the last few days. This is one of those must read sorts of books if one cares about defining and developing a biblical view of salvation and Christian hope. Wright explores here the concept that the hope for Christians is in the bodily resurrection – not in the gnostic “our souls go heaven when we die” mythology that consumes the imagination of most Christians. He not only reminds readers of that hope, but examines the implications that hope should have on how we think about Christian life, mission, and the purpose of church. Many of us in the emerging church have talked recently about how the gospel is bigger than individualistic decisions for heaven or against hell, and Wright here demonstrates that such limited conceptions of the gospel aren’t even biblical anyway. This of course gets us all labeled heretics, but at least the idea is getting out there that what most people think is orthodox Christian belief is actually not. So it’s a good read – helpful and inspiring in many ways. But I really wish it had more practical suggestions for everyday life.

It’s all well and good to intellectually rethink how we conceive of Christian hope and even start living differently because of that, but I am finding that the popular conceptions are so ubiquitous that they are nearly impossible to escape. In the face of all that I wish Wright had provided more positive examples of how to integrate the biblical view into our everyday encounters. How does one comfort the grieving? Explain death to a child? We’ve been conditioned to be comforted by common cliches even if we no longer believe the theology behind them. New language doesn’t yet exist – much less new books or new hymns (although a few good old ones are still around). But what good is my theology if I can’t convey it to my children? Or how effective is my theology if my children are constantly exposed to false conceptions? If we don’t consider how to convey these scriptural concepts to children all we are doing is allowing the myths to flourish into the next generation.

The world of popular conception is strong. I’ve been there. I’ve lead 5-Day Clubs, AWANA, and VBS. I’ve been trained by CEF and know all the kid songs. I’ve taught the flannelgraphs making promises about heaven the Bible only makes of the New Creation. I remember the Sunday School lessons (complete with charts) on the difference between body, soul, and spirit. I have a toddler and read her Bible storybooks and watch movies with her. I hear the dualistic/gnostic language she is indoctrinated with. Sure I change the language when I read her certain books, but it’s in there. Do I throw away all those books because of a few phrases that promote a Platonic rather than biblical understanding of the world? Do I ban every cartoon that portrays heaven as full of disembodied spirits floating on clouds? Do I never allow her to attend 5-Day Clubs, or VBSs, summer camps, or Sunday Schools because I know the individualistic spin they put on salvation (without any emphasis on community or what we have been saved for)? These are the practical questions that I wrestle with.

I want my children to choose to follow Christ not be manipulated into saying a prayer because they fear hell or want the reward of heaven. I don’t want John 3:16 reduced to “for God so loved Emma…” I want my kids to have better lyrics to sing in church than “Good news, good news, Christ died for ME” or “STOP! and let me tell you what the Lord has done for ME” or “Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place, For those who trust Him and obey…” (oh the memories). These things don’t reflect biblical truth so why would I teach them to my children? I want better options.

I’m sick though of waiting for better language and resources. Theology shouldn’t take decades to trickle down to children while we continue to feed them misguided lies. I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff like this, and I still struggle with altering my default language or with catching bad theology/philosophy in Emma’s picture books. We needed better resources yesterday as it were. Forget the N.T. Wright for Everyone devotional guides, I want N.T. Wright for toddlers. I want to see practical theology accessible to all ages. If we can’t be bothered to teach this stuff to our kids in the cradle then why bother believing it at all?

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46 Responses leave one →
  1. March 3, 2008

    Wow…..that’s all I have. Wow.
    Excellent post!
    (and very ironic that I was on the “heaven” train of thought on my blog also today…..)

  2. March 3, 2008

    AMEN and preach it sister. Let it be so

  3. March 3, 2008

    so when’s the emergent line for children and youth coming out?

  4. March 3, 2008

    Great post! It will be great when biblical views are integrated to the point that popular christian culture is impacted at the level of children’s material. To be honest, I think it will be a while before we see it at the mainstream level with adults, let alone children.

    You will find that your children absorb more of their theology from you in the process of life than you realize you are teaching. The older they get, the more apparent this is. Yes, some of this happens as you confront and adjust bad theology, but much of it happens as they listen and observe everyday life.

    I remember when my kids visited a VBS and experienced a “fire-and-brimstone” altar call for the first time. They were appalled that someone would try to scare kids into a salvation decision. To be honest, I don’t ever remember teaching them about that specifically, but it was something they intuitively knew.

    Perhaps this would be an opportunity for you to develop some children’s material. :)

  5. March 3, 2008

    LOL, I just saw Makeesha’s comment.

  6. March 3, 2008

    We have had two deaths recently to explain to our kids. Our oldest daughter is four, and it is surprising how simply she gets it. She says, “When Jesus comes back, he will raise Papa’s body and he’ll be alive again.”

  7. March 3, 2008

    “so when’s the emergent line for children and youth coming out?”

    I told Julie that needs to be her next writing project after finishing her current book. :)

  8. March 3, 2008

    You go girl!

  9. March 3, 2008

    Julie, you should definitely write a book on this topic! I am desperate for help about how to teach (or not teach!) our kids about God.

    Information I’d like to read about would include:
    *how to pray with kids
    *how to teach Bible stories to kids
    *requiring church attendance or not
    *what to do when your church teaches your kids in ways you don’t approve of (that is, when you don’t have any other options)
    *how to help your children know what to do with friends’ and families’ interpretations of the gospel, including the concepts of heaven/hell
    *how to deal with grandparents who would teach our children differently than we wish

    Thanks for this post – it is something that has been on my heart alot recently. I don’t have very many people to talk to about it.

    ~Brooke Moore

  10. March 3, 2008

    well Julie, you know I’m in on a group authored book. But I’d also like to see some of what you mentioned – NT Wright et al “for kids”

  11. March 3, 2008

    You guys make me laugh… I’m just ranting about how I’m desperate to find this stuff….

    Brooke – those issues are huge especially for those who desire to stay within traditional churches and not break ties or relationships.

  12. March 3, 2008

    Brooke, those would all be great topics for the Emerging Parents blog.

  13. March 4, 2008

    How about just using the Bible to teach a Biblical worldview? I don’t think the answer is to try to teach our kids a “better” systematic theology. Stop trying to teach them systematic theology period. If our kids have lots of exposure to the Bible (and there are tons of Bibles/Bible story books for every age with relatively little baggage added on), then they will develop an understanding of the world that is highly influenced by the Bible.

  14. Brian permalink
    March 4, 2008

    Great post! I totally resonate.

    Could I have your permission to include this post in our next church newsletter? I think we need to deepen the conversation about the ideas you raise in our local community at Sunnyside Mennonite Church.


  15. March 4, 2008

    This is slightly off-topic, but one kids’ book that I found very impressive is the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Almost a narrative theology for preschoolers, looking at redemptive themes and the whole story of Scripture rather than narrow moralizing lessons on obedience. Far better than many of the trite kids’ resources out there.

  16. March 4, 2008

    You ask some big questions and, to an extent, I agree with you that we should be constantly examining what we teach our children to see that it is Biblically sound. But some of the subtleties of theology can (and likely should) only be grasped at a later time. Let’s keep giving children milk and not try to force feed them formula too soon.

  17. March 4, 2008

    I have heard before that Sally Lloyd-Jones storybook bible is a great resource. I linked a related post by Amber Bishop on microscribe a couple of days ago, Teaching Young Children About the Kingdom of God.

    Yes, they are children, but so many things boil down to the essentials of how we view God, the gospel, the kingdom, salvation, and our role in all of that. Maybe we don’t fill in the complex details, but we have to start with a clear foundation of the basics, and we will find ourselves having to address the things that contradict our basic understanding of who God is.

  18. Karl permalink
    March 4, 2008

    We have appreciated The Big Picture Story Bible, by David Helm. “Deeply influenced by scholar Graeme Goldsworthy, Helm picks up the themes of God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule, showing how they form the structure of the Bible story from Genesis to Revelation.” I’ve seen recommendations to follow up with the Sally Lloyd-Jones book after reading The Big Picture Story Bible to your kids.

    As far as replacing Platonic notions of a disembodied Heaven and Hell with a more Biblical picture of the New Heavens and the New Earth, or the restored Kingdom, that hasn’t been too difficult for us to convey to our kids (so far). The reassuring promise of a Future Hope is emotionally much the same for a child, IMO. The resurrection promise, as N.T. Wright puts it, of “life AFTER life after death.” Newly restored bodies, a perfectly restored creation (the Lord says “behold I make all things new”, not “I make all new things”). It’s a beautiful picture to share with your kids.

    I do think the personal and individual implications of the gospel message are profound and important, though. The gospel can’t stop there, as it has too often in many evangelical circles. But while the gospel is about more than just “God loves Emma”, it certainly includes “God loves Emma” in a very personal way. In my desire to expand my childrens’ horizons and focus them on God’s restorative work in the world, build redemptive community, etc. I wouldn’t want to skip over that dimension of the message and have them miss out on knowing that they are intensely and personally loved eternally by a God who they can look to as their perfect Abba/Daddy God. That’s not the end of it but without that secure relational intimacy (if you’ve seen it, think of Rob Bell in the Nooma “Rain”), the rest seems kind of sad and hollow striving to me.

  19. March 4, 2008

    I onve went through a hymn book marking the hymns:

    1) Oppressed and downtrodden people’s hymns
    2) Boss nation hymns
    3) Hymns that were neither, and weren’t heretical.

  20. March 4, 2008

    Wow, lots to respond to…

    Nitika – I’ve found though that there are fairly few bible story books without baggage. Most simply reduce the stories to moral lessons (what Ivy Beckwith calls the Aesop fablization of the Bible), which while not harmful per se does shape how one reads scripture for life. Tony Jones in The New Christians has a great section on how even the pictures in these kids books teach a theology. For a benign example – my daughter is fascinated with an Easter book right now that pictures churches with steeples, stained glass, and alters/pulpits. She has never seen anything remotely like that, but has decided that when Easter rolls around that is what church will look like. The picture is determining her conception of church despite three years of experiencing something very different. Stuff like this matters more than we know.

    But I do have to say that I did find one storybook from a rather conservative publisher to contain an amusing picture. On their Noah’s Ark page the animals entering the ark two by two are all male – we started calling it Emma’s open and affirming bible…

    Thanks Al, Grace, and Karl for the book suggestions, I’ll look into it.

  21. Lori Wilson permalink
    March 4, 2008

    Julie, I hear you. Our two kids are now 12 and 8, and raising them as children in the Kingdom of God has often felt very much like raising them in the dark. So much of our faith is a process of “growing into” where we have no idea what path lies ahead–this leaves living, and in turn raising children, on a rather precarious footing. For simple lack of an alternative, we’ve “brought the kids along”, so to speak. When we have questions, we ask them in front of the kids. When we’re excited about a new idea, we’ll share that too. When we experience God in a new or moving way, the kids hear about it. They see us cry, doubt, feel guilty, work things out. Authentic parenting it is, charting a course for them, it is not! And here we struggle, because we owe so much to our own very programmed, taught, and directed childhoods. Though we no longer find a home in the sorts of church communities that shaped us, we can’t deny the benefits of flannelgraph, sword drills, and summer camp. Jesus found us in those activities, and those places, and laid the foundation for the new ways in which he finds us today.

    We spent a couple weeks in January in London, connecting with folks there involved in various ways in altworship. The one question I made sure to ask was “what about the kids?” I was shocked by their answer–and yes, I mean answer, not answers–because they ALL seemed to agree our children need a solid foundation, more or less the one so many of us are trying to leave behind. Here these creative mavens, worshiping God in new & occasionally outlandish ways, are enrolling their kids in the parish Sunday school! (and in one case, teaching there–flannelgraph and all–as well!) I’m still chewing on that. (But I think that’s the idea Pistol Pete is on to, with the notion of giving milk to our babes, and not pushing them on too soon.)

    Our children’s formation has been one with very few external resources, and lots and lots of family conversation. Brooke’s questions, for instance, are ones we’ve talked about with them (even the grandparents one!). But we’re also trying to be sensitive to their needs for more concrete training, for “milk”, and allow them to explore a world with which we don’t always agree. We sent them to camp last summer, to mixed reviews (the critical thinking we’ve passed on, for better or for worse, served them well that week) and just last week our son asked to start attending a youth group. I guess I see a lot of this as the “hazards of childraising”–when I let my children out into the world, and allow them to be exposed to other influences, they’ll run into a lot I don’t like. It’s my job, as mom, to help them sort through their experiences, and help them make sense of what they see & learn. While it’s a shame that their “faith” experiences aren’t exempted from the need for “constant vigilance”, I’m happy to be involved with them, engaging the world in which they’re growing up.

    Bottom line is, we want our children growing up to love God, and their neighbor as themselves. I think that will look different in each of our families, as God has graced us all with an infinite variety of gifts, experiences, and understandings. The beauty of this time & place is that we are free to explore that with our children. How does God love US uniquely? What do we have that we can return to God? How can we best love our neighbor (you know, the one with the dog that never stops barking)? We may not have a book to guide the way, but we can listen to God’s spirit and follow into an adventure of knowing God together.

  22. Andrew permalink
    March 4, 2008

    Julie, you tap into every parent’s fears when you talk about myths flourishing into the next generation. I sometimes worry that if we don’t begin to change how we talk to kids about faith that they will just continue the cycle of leaving church that is so popular right now and have to maybe go through years of trying to “unlearn” some stuff as they begin their adult lives. We definitely need to learn a new language in order to communicate faith to our kids in better ways. Maybe your next book could be a wiki kind of book where many of us contribute suggestions of how we are handling this stuff in daily life. You could compile and edit and give a gift to all of us.

  23. March 4, 2008

    I was teaching kids – older kids, mostly 6-8th grade – last night, as part of their religious award for Boy Scouts. The material is designed the usual way: Read this short story, find the answer the fits the topic we’ve given you, write it in the little space provided, then move on to the next one. Lather, rinse. repeat. (I speak metaphorically)

    As a pastor/teacher/theologian/parent I think kids need – and can handle – more substantive involvement with the text. If we have a preconceived nugget of information or abstract principle they need to fill in the blank, they’ll likely never get to such substantive involvement. You have to go slow and take time with them. Of course, I’m rotten at using other people’s material so I don’t know if anyone has put out anything that fits that description. I just use my bible with them.

  24. March 4, 2008

    I haven’t read Wright’s book, so I’m probably missing the point. But I think with a selection of a variety of Children’s Bibles you can communicate the big picture of God revealing himself to people as well as point to the Bible as THE important book to which we should stay loyal. Reading together and talking about it afterward we can ask questions like “why do you think the illustrator chose to show that story like this?” Variety helps a lot, seeing two different illustrations of the same story helps children to see that there are different ways to perceive a given passage. Teaching them to engage multiple points of view (and the “whys” behind those viewpoints) is way more valuable than making sure they are only exposed to the “right” take on it. And here is my original point, I think it’s dangerous to teach our kids that a certain theology/theologian is trustworthy, while others are not. Surely Wright (again I haven’t read him) has blind spots where he misses the boat. I wouldn’t want my kids to miss those insights when they look at the world from a perspective I can’t even imagine 20 years from now, because of some loyalty to N.T. Wright, or anyone else.

  25. Lori Wilson permalink
    March 5, 2008

    Nitika, I love your point. While I’ve hesitant about using kids’ Bible stories (and other “christian” books to an even greater extent) it seems that teaching our kids a critical approach to any text is a healthy thing. It would be nice, though, on occasion, to be able to just read something and let it stand. I was thrilled when our kids were old enough that we could read a Bible story straight out of the Bible and just let it stand–ask the kids what they thought about it, and go from there. I must admit, I especially enjoyed the juicy stories that the story books always leave out! :)
    But back to your point–teaching our children to engage from day one, and not just be passive receptors, is a great thing.

  26. March 5, 2008

    Nitika – good points and I do agree with the need to always be critical in our engagement and be teaching multiple viewpoints. I just wish that there were multiple options available. Like Lori said, having to rethink everything is frustrating. When all the picture books teach that heaven is the ideal full of disembodied spirits those ideas get set. It would just be nice to have picture books that actually do reflect what is in the bible!

    Karl – I agree that kids need to be taught that they are loved by God, my issue is when that is all that is taught. When salvation is reduced to just the individual and the stories of how God works in history and the church are ignored in favor of individualistic emphasis then there are problems. It should never be an either/or, but it has played out that way for too long.

  27. March 8, 2008

    This is a tough one. My kids are now teenagers and since my journey radically changed about the time they were in elementary school, they have a mixture of theology in their makeup-much like their mother! (this has been a concern) The bottom line for me is that when I jumped off the modern diving board into the postmodern deep end I wanted (craved like a junkie) some “to do list” or nicely laid out acronym for daily Christian life. I’d even have settled for a “wordless book” for heaven’s sake! But I think the hesitation of certain postmodern leaders, like Wright, is that we’ve all read books with titles like, “15 Minutes a Day to a Closer Relationship With God,” and frankly this just isn’t how it works. There is no magic formula. I am wary of repackaging a “new and improved” postmodern theology in modern clothes to teach in Sunday School. Don’t get me wrong, those Biblical stories we grew up with are important, no question, and I agree about finding a way, a new way to present them to our kids. But I think it will be tricky. We’ll want to revert back because, in the end, mystery makes us squirm and there’s nothing so reassuring as a good Sunday School lesson that says, “this is how it is”.

    On a daily basis I find myself trimming the slack to focus on: “love the Lord your God with all your heart…and your neighbor as yourself.” So I’m inclined to say: Relax. You began teaching Emma theology the moment she was in your arms and you kissed her cheek. Every time you write, do the dishes, or love a neighbor…the message of Jesus is proclaimed. Flannelgraph never had it so good. If you must have something practical: I do like what was said in a comment earlier about discussing ideas with your kids. I intentionally read the news most every day so that at dinner we can discuss certain issues with them. God invariably enters into the mix—even old testament and new testament stories come into play here. Also, some of those old books with misrepresented theology provide great discussion.

  28. Debra permalink
    March 8, 2008

    Are you kidding me??? “Stop and let me tell you what the Lord has done for ME,” and “Good news, good news, Christ died for ME” don’t reflect biblical truth? What in the world are you talking about? The personalization of the gospel? It’s nothing if it’s not personal. We are called to personal repentance & relationship. Cool worship songs they are not. These may be kiddie songs w/ very simple messages that are more developmentally appropriate for 4-6 yrs, but they reflect a biblical truth that is at a more concrete level.

    • Robin Adolphsen permalink
      April 30, 2015

      Yay! I have been reading down through hoping I would run into someone speaking truth! Thank-you, Debra!

  29. March 8, 2008

    Debra – Please understand that this has nothing to do with “cool worship songs”. Most of the trendy worship songs teach the same “me centered” view of salvation. I don’t deny that there is a personal element to salvation, but it is much bigger than that. I want my children to hear the bigger story from an early age and not be indoctrinated into individualistic versions of the gospel. I think NT Wright explain it best here –

    “To suppose that we are saved, as it were, for our own private benefit, for the restoration of our own relationship with God (vital though that is!), and for our eventual homecoming and peace in heaven (misleading though that is!) is like a boy being given a baseball bat as a present and insisting that since it belongs to him, he must always and only play with it in private. But of course you can only do what you’re meant to do with a baseball bat when you’re playing with other people. And salvation only does what it’s meant to do when those who have been saved, are being saved, and will one day fully be saved realize that they are saved not as souls but as wholes and not for themselves alone but for what God now longs to do through them.”

  30. March 9, 2008

    Great post Julie, and interesting timing (at least for me). I work with a 4&5 grade ministry for the evangelical community I attend, and they’ve asked me to speak on Palm Sunday. I’ve been bothered over the past few weeks, since they asked, on how to give more than just the same old message they hear every year. How do I relate all that I’m learning to them, how do I show them that this Jesus who’s being celebrated on Palm Sunday isn’t being “led” to the Cross, but if fully knowledgeable of what is going on, fully aware of himself, and fully more than we have been taught he is.
    I guess I’m looking more towards how can I show these kids the Jesus that truly is God, in the midst (and from where I am going to be speaking: the very ‘den’) of a world where these kids are taught something that essentially lowers Jesus to something of an object who has now power to stop the trajectory He is on.
    Anyways, I seem to be rambling, but I’m interested in hearing Your thoughts.

  31. March 26, 2008

    Fantastic post. As my understanding/theology has changed over the last few years, mainly due to reading N.T. Wright and Brian McLaren, and coming up with new questions, I am now at a point where I have to figure out “how/what am I going to teach my son?” (He’s only 7 1/2 months old but before I know it, it’ll be time to start teaching him…)

    It bothers me that in church they will likely learn “the same old stuff” as children and then have to be confused later on as they are more able to grasp a different meaning. Why not start out on the right foot, you know?

  32. Annette permalink
    March 27, 2008

    My father (an avid student of N. T. Wright) sent me this blog entry and I could not stop reading all of these fascinating responses. My husband and I also have had VARIOUS conversations about the spiritual development of our two young children, and we have decided to venture into some unknown territories… as many of you other parents have. In saying that I mean that we have decided to raise our children quite differently (in the spiritual sense) than he and I were raised. We have never had “family devotions”, we rarely pray before meals (though we sometimes go around and say what we are thankful for), we never read from children’s story Bibles, and we do not quote or ask our children to memorize Scripture.

    Our reasoning is not to rebel against what our loving and wise parents did with us or because we are ashamed of our faith in Christ… not at all! Our reason is simply… we want our children to discover their Creator as their curiosity leads them, in an organic sort of way. We want them to be able to open the Scriptures when they are older and able to read with fresh lenses and to not have already “heard it all before.” We want them to see a lifestyle in their parents and in our community of faith that is loving, peaceful, growing, nurturing, seeking justice, etc… and someday realize that we are the way we are because we decided to follow the God-man, Jesus. We want their relationship with God to be an exciting exploration and not somehow manipulated by us.

    I really resonated with the comments of Kim on how our lives should reflect the gospel message to our children in the daily acts of our days. I believe a sincere and loving faith in action is the best “milk” we can give our young children, and as they grow we can hopefully enter into more of the “meat” of our beliefs as their minds begin to make sense of and ask questions regarding faith.

    Again… we admit along with you… these are unchartered waters. May God give wisdom to all of us parents as we seek to live and teach a true and sincere faith in Christ.

  33. MattS permalink
    April 24, 2008

    Same old stuff? Wow, I have a really hard time understanding your views of wanting to ‘rethink’ everything you learned as a child..
    And regarding the gospel, wasn’t it Paul himself who said “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it’s the power of God for salvation for all who believe.” It sounds to me that Paul was speaking about himself there. Look throughout the book of Romans where Paul is speaking on HIS experience, or “what the Lord has done in me”.

    Time to get back to teaching the full counsel of God through His word and not rely so much on the emerging church movement with Brian Mclaren and Rob Bell.

  34. May 15, 2008

    I have discovered this blog post kinda months after the event but I felt I had to comment.
    I have discovered a glorious freedom in my work with children; a freedom from the controversy of teaching on death and hell and firey flames by observing, recognising and nurturing faith in the youngest children, out the deeply held conviction that children start with God. He knows them! He loves them! He blesses them. Doesn’t mean they don’t sin, but it means we teach them to keep loving Jesus and saying yes to him, working in partnership with parents to support them in their primary role of spiritual discipleship.
    Contemporary writings on the stages of faith development abound – I would personally start with Ivy Beckwith’s Postmodern Children’s Ministry book or J D Westerhoff’s book “Will Our Children Find Faith”.
    I’ve put two short summaries of current thinking on my blog, if you’re more interested. and
    Thanks for all the thoughts and recommendations!

  35. Ang from Down Under permalink
    January 31, 2009

    Julie, I realise I am replying almost a year after you wrote this blog, but I must tell you of children’s material available that is excellent, extremeley humorous, professional and spot-on THEOLOGY !!

    “Colin Buchanan” – he is an Australian singer-songwriter, doing a massive Children’s ministry as well as country music. Get hold of his CDs and DVDs and enjoy, and praise God He created Colin Buchanan for our kids!!

    In his ‘King of Christmas’ DVD he impersonates CSI Miami – trying to discover the true meaning of Christmas. He has a great ‘Countdown’ song in “10, 9, 8…God is Great, and great impersonation of our Steve Irwin (RIP) Crocodile Hunter.

    All his ‘enhanced’ CDs include lyrics, music sheets, overhead projector sheets and colouring-in books. Extra bonus.

    Even better yet – is to see him perform. Totally Awesome !!

  36. Lila Ferguson Buchanan permalink
    March 16, 2009

    Thank you for expressing so well what we, a small fellowship group, have been struggling with for some time now. It was best expresses by a friend who said, with a big sigh, “So, now what do I do?”
    It takes time for the new understandings being revealed to us by people like Bishop Tom, Rikk Watts, C. Baxter Kruger and the like to filter

  37. Lila Ferguson Buchanan permalink
    March 16, 2009

    down through all that we have learned since we were ourselves in Sunday School. Just think of the wonderful advantage you are giving your children! To start them with the more correct (at least as we understand it now) interpretation of scripture, think what heights they can climb for the Kingdom.
    We have begun to change a few words in the old hymns (i.e. substituting “Renew our home” for “take me home”) and carefully choose newer worship songs, believing that even this small correction will filter through the spirit of the people.
    As a parent of 4 grown children, three in full time ministry, andmany Foster Children, I believe that your prayer and conversation with your children will have more impact than any change in VBS or Kid’s clubs will have. Just be yourself, let them see you “work out your salvation, in fear & trembling” as a good role model and they will learn. Trust Jesus to speak to their much more open hearts with His understanding and you will find them much more insightful than you can know. It is a joy now, to have long distance conversations to discover that God is showing them the same things He is showing me through different people and avenues of learning.
    Be encourged!

  38. May 20, 2009

    What is sad is that so many in the “emergent church” are acting as if a new truth is being discovered through the reading of NT Wright.

    We have gotten so swayed by Reformed Lordship views, Baptist individualism, outright liberalism, counterbalanced by touchy-feely heretical jibberish from people like Rob Bell, that we seem to not even recognize that the Christian life is about one thing:

    The Believer’s Position in Christ. If you can grasp that, you will understand grace. If you understand grace, you will live as you ought. If you live as you ought, your character will be transformed into the identity he has predestined for you. When he transforms you, your life will be lived out of love for him, and you will do your part in carrying out the Great Commission.

    These Postmodern parents think the faith needs to be re-invented. Too bad that so many of their gurus are doing nothing to dispel that notion. We don’t need re-invention, only rediscovery. Make disciples, make disciples!

  39. January 28, 2010

    Now that’s what I’m talking about. N.T. Wright for Children. Awesome idea.

  40. April 16, 2010

    I think your blog needs some updating. I would love to read more about this topic.

  41. Jared permalink
    July 3, 2010

    I agree with the core perspective here… great post!!

    But, Wright’s book on Heaven is not actually his core contribution…

    Here’s an interesting observation: for all the discussion of and praise for N. T. Wright (which I welcome!), it is amazing that the words and the entire concepts of Abraham, Israel, covenant, exile, Messiah, and Torah are completely absent from the original post and the whole string of comments. It’s not just the platonic view of the afterlife or the private and me-centered view of salvation that Wright is dismanteling through his writings.

    Wright is drawing us back to the covenant-centered drama that is THE story of Scripture. That too needs to be thoroughly reworked into our way of teaching the Bible to Children. Remember that the entire OT is about THAT; plus Jesus is speaking as a Jew to Jews in the context of Messianic expectations; Peter is preaching in Acts to Jews; Paul is arguing against Judiazers in many letters and presents Jesus as the fulfillment of Israel’s expectations; and the great epic letter of Romans centers heavily on the puzzling role of Israel in the surprising turn the covenant drama has now taken…

    We need to learn how to re-incorporate that core element of Scripture into our teaching of children–WITHOUT letting that slip into covertly talking about the political issues surrounding the modern state of Israel.

  42. Molly permalink
    September 18, 2011

    I googled “nt wright for preschoolers” kinda laughing at myself… And I found this post. I don’t know if you’ll read this, but I’m encouraged nonetheless. I too wish for this… Any new findings that anyone could share?

    • April 23, 2012

      Wee update from me: I have written a book, which, while not yet NT Wright for children (my next project perhaps!) goes some way to lay out many of the things the comments here have raised.

      It’s to be published by Destiny Image in June 2012 and the working title is “Children and Families – Drawing the Generations Together to Change the World”….covering children’s spirituality, faith development, nurture and evangelism, discipleship within faith communities, biblical world view, dealing with unhelpful attitudes, changing the shape of church to allow our young people and families who are brand new to faith to feel part of something and to develop and grow.

      Full details of how to order this by end May on (website not live yet)

  43. Becky permalink
    March 24, 2016

    Julie! I’ve been feeling this exact same way since reading surprised by Hope a few years ago. It really pushed me over the edge last week, on Palm Sunday, when somehow the triumphal entry into Jerusalem story for the kids at church ended with “and we get to go to heaven and be with Jesus when we die and that’s the important part”. My kids are 9,5, and almost 4 and it is going to take some effort to teach them a more full perspective on the gospel. Ive thought of just paraphrasing surprised by Hope for them. My other idea is to really just fill them with Jesus’ words directly from the gospels instead of interpretations of jesus. Instead of just teaching them “Jesus died for your sins” I can tell them specifically what the story says: Jesus was the son of God, the Jews brought him to the Romans because they hated him and accused him of blasphemy, the Romans killed criminals on the cross, but Jesus didn’t stay dead he rose! They need to learn the whole picture in context, not memorize oversimplified theological points.
    Anyway, I just started googling to see if anyone else was having the same struggles as me, and I found your post instantly. Feels good to know I’m not alone. Thanks for writing this.

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