Thursday, September 20, 2007

An Adequate Theology of Childhood



One of the things I find lacking in our Christian thinking is a coherent theology of childhood. Of course, we have always referred to Jesus’ connection of children with the Kingdom of God. Various commentators take that to refer to mean innocence, lack of inhibitions, and of malice. Others struggle with the meaning of the original sin in children. Some argues on whether children should be baptised or not.

In the last decade, there have been many new studies involving the theology of childhood. This is a welcome addition as scholars and thinkers wrestle with what it means about the salvation of a child and his or her spiritual formation. The child’s interconnectivity with parents, family, community, society and nationhood are also being studied.

Thus it is a delight for me to discover Marcia J. Bunge (ed)(2001) The Child in Christian Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans). This book collects together 17 essays on Christian thinking of children. What makes this book different is that the essays are not about contemporary thinkers but Christian thinkers from the past. These books disperse the myth that the early Christian thinkers are not concern about children. The chapter titles reads like a who who’s of Christian thinkers:

- The Ecclesial Family: John Chrysostom on Parenthood
- “Where and When was Your Servant Innocent”: Augustine on Childhood
- A Person in the Making: Thomas Aquinas on Children and Childhood
- The Child in Luther’s Theology
- Children in the Theology of John Calvin
- Complex Innocence, Obligatory Nurturance, and Parental Vigilance: “The Child” in the Work of Menno Simons
- Education and the Child in Eighteenth-Century German Pietism
- John Wesley and Children
- Jonathan Edwards, and the Puritan Culture of Child Bearing
- Friedrich Schleiermacher on the Religious Significance
- Horace Bushnell’s Christian Nurture
- Reading Karl Barth on Children
- Karl Rahner’s Contribution to Modern Catholic Thought on the Child

…and more. All my favourite theologians are here. This book is worth reading, especially for those involved in the teaching and ministry with children.



soli deo gloria

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8 Comments:

Blogger pearlie said...

Oh! I'd love to have a copy. Where did you get this? Singapore? Could you help get me one?? :)

12:39 AM  
Blogger Sivin Kit said...

pearlie, SUFES should have a copy.

This is one of the best edited books on theology of children.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi pearlie,

I ordered my copy from amazon.com.

I was in SKS bookstore in Singapore last Friday and I did not see any copies there.

maybe, as sivin suggested, you should try SUFES.

1:38 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi sivin,

This book gives a wonderful historical perspective on the theology of childhood.

Another one is Glenn Gupit's doctoral dissertation. I have a pdf file and I am trying to get hold of his book. Really first rate research from Australia.

1:41 AM  
Blogger pearlie said...

Oh dear, does that mean I have to go to Sufes again and risk spending big bucks again? I just went there on Saturday AND Wednesday!!!

11:57 AM  
Blogger pearlie said...

Hehe ... I hv done it again - just called Sufes and booked one copy. Thanks Sivin for letting me know.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

sounds like a nice book...esp since children 'are our future'

5:25 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi alwyn,

childen are our future but our present responsibility.

2:46 AM  

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