Today's post completes a series of posts on Dr. Bruce Ware's new book, "Big Truths for Young Hearts" (Crossway, 2009). We posted previously on the content of the book in here and here. The following originally appeared at Towers Online. Dr. Bruce Ware is a former President of the Council on Biblcial Manhood and Womanhood and currently serves as Council Member.
Question: Do you think we sometimes underestimate the ability of our children to understand the Bible and theology?
Bruce Ware: We do underestimate them. We underestimate them and we also get what we fear –questions that we can't answer. It's really important to encourage questions, encourage that curiosity, and when you have questions from your kids that you don't know, you just say, "Wow, Johnny, that's a great question and frankly, I don't know the answer, but you know what, let's read a few things. Let's look and study and see if we can get some help. Maybe we'll need to talk to the pastor but let's get some help and see if we can get an answer to it." I think that's the way to go with our kids.
Q: It seems to me that one could actually use this book as a guide you in teaching Christian doctrine to adults. Could it be used for that purpose as well?
BW: Yes, I think so. I didn't avoid all big words, but I defined them. I wanted children to know "propitiation" for example. So I didn't want them to lose out on the richness of some of the theological vocabulary. But on the other hand, in terms of just normal language, I tried to keep it to simple words and descriptions that would be more easily understandable…C.S. Lewis said, "If you can write in a compelling way to children, then adults have your attention." I think the book could be used to teach truth to all ages.
Q: How long did it take your two daughters to convince you to write this book?
BW: Well, yeah, Bethany and Rachel both thought for years that this would be a great thing to do. Rachel, in particular, for some reason would bring it up on a regular basis. She'd say, "Dad, when are you going to write bed-side theology?" That was her title for this. Thinking back on our bed-side conversations that we had for years growing up. And I put her off regularly, so she asked that again about a year and a half ago, and I said, "You know what, I have a block of time this summer that I can devote to this. So I think now's the time to do it." And God gave me the grace to complete it. It is utterly the work of God.
Q: In the preface, Bethany and Rachel wrote about lengthy car trips in which you would discuss doctrine. Give one example as to how one of those conversations arose and how you addressed their questions.
BW: Those conversations in the car were not unusual because we had a home in which at the table, in sort of normal conversation with our children, we talked about Bible and theology a lot. I mean, of course, we had talked about other things too, but it was a regular topic. So it wasn't an unusual thing…Several summers we took trips that were over 7,000 miles and Jodi and I thought it was a good time to do discipleship with our daughters. So, Jodi would print off chapters of the Bible for us to take along. Each one of us would have our own copy that we would read through in the car and memorize. So we memorized some wonderful portions of Scripture as we drove along. The girls would always get it before we would. I can remember, I think it was Psalm 103 years ago, that we had read through three times and Bethany put the sheet down and could do most of it without looking. And then from those, from things we listened to on tapes that we would play, I would introduce questions to them as we were driving along, things for them to kind of think through. For example, "How did Jesus live his life sinlessly? And why does it matter?"
Q: So how are you praying that God would use the book?
BW: Gospel teaching is all through the book and I did that on purpose so that dads and moms, but particularly dads, would have the opportunity to help their children know clearly who God is, what it means to be his creation, what sin has done to us, why Christ was necessary, what the cross is about, and the glory of the free gift of salvation in Christ, the life He calls us to that is a life of obedience that is true freedom as human beings to live as God called us to. I wanted to cast a vision for the goodness and the greatness of God and His ways that dads can help to pass on to their kids. There are multiple levels that the book may be used but number one in my heart and mind was helping dads.
Q: How old do my children need to be in order to benefit from Big Truths?
BW: I think actually going through this book can be done with a bright six year old. But not all are able to take it that early so maybe around eight might be the age that most kids would be at. Be sensitive with your own children and don't assume that they're all going to be the same. Just take it slow and easy and try not to make this a chore for your children, but a delight to inspire them and excite them about what they're learning.
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