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How Do You Teach Children About The Trinity?

November 15, 2012

Russell Moore:

Yesterday a journalist friend emailed to ask a question I think many Christian parents have asked. How does one explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to children?

I think the reason this question resonates with so many parents is precisely because we adults can’t adequately explain the doctrine ourselves. We can teach children the inerrancy of Scripture by simply saying, “The Bible Is True.” We can explain something of the atonement by saying, “Jesus paid for our sins and is alive forever.” The Trinity, though, is another matter.

I think much of our fear and stumbling here comes with a misunderstanding of what the Christian gospel is all about. Yes, Christianity is reasonable and intelligible (Carl Henry stands affirmed).

But Christianity is not merely about reason and intelligence. The gospel points to a different kind of wisdom, one that silences human mouths (Isa. 55:8; Jer. 8:9; 1 Cor. 1:19-20).

God is one God, and God is three persons in an everlasting relationship with one another, a relationship into which we are invited. That’s not contradictory. God is not one in the same way he is three, or vice-versa. But who can reduce this to some sort of formula or easy analogy?

Sometimes we seek a quick analogy for children because we want to put our kids out of their mystery. If the Trinity is an easy explanation (it’s like a shamrock; it’s like water, ice, and steam), we can “move on.” We’re afraid if we say that the Trinity is in some ways beyond comprehension that our kids won’t trust us to tell them with confidence about the truth of the gospel.

But Jesus tells us there’s something about a child’s way of believing that ought to be true of all of us. We must, he tells us, become like them if we’re going to enter the kingdom of God at all. In one sense, it’s true, children are often hyper-literal. I remember thinking as a child that a “soul” was a little version of myself located in one of the chambers of my heart (and wearing a soldier’s uniform, for some reason).

But, in the more important ways, children are open to mystery and paradox in ways adults often aren’t. Children explore the world around them with a wide-eyed sense of wonder. They don’t comprehend it all, and they know they don’t comprehend it all.

That’s the kind of blessed ignorance I believe Jesus commends. In order to believe, you must trust everything God has said to you, but you must also see him, not your own comprehension, as Lord. To see at all we must know that we “see through a glass darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12).

With that the case, we ought to boldly say to our children, “God is One and God is three. I can’t fully explain all of that because that’s how big and mysterious God and his ways are. Isn’t that wonderful?” When your child says, “That boggles my mind,” don’t respond with a worried handwringing but with a twinkle in your eye. “I know!” you say. “Me too! Isn’t that wild, and great!”

That doesn’t end the conversation, of course. It only begins it. But we’ve got several trillion years and beyond to explore the depths of the Trinitarian reality. A start is what we need.

And learning of God’s oneness and threeness in terms of wonder and awe is a good place, I think, to start vaccinating our children from the kind of sterile rationalism, Christian or atheist, that can lead to a boring, despairing, tragically normal sort of life.

3 Ways To Nourish and Cherish Your Wife

November 14, 2012

The video of CJ Mahaney below is outstanding as we consider this important calling. You can also read Andy Naselli’s notes from this talk here if you are short on time.

Memory (Verse) Monday

November 12, 2012

This week’s memory verse for Preschoolers-5th grade is from Proverbs 16:22 – Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it.

This Sunday, November 18 we will have a donut hole party during the Sunday School hour. 

For every verse your child has memorized since August 2012, he/she will receive one donut hole. 
Let me know if your child does NOT normally attend Sunday School but would like to participate on November 18 during Sunday School for donut holes. We need to make sure we have enough donuts! 

Engaging Your Kids in Discussing Their Day

November 9, 2012

Michael Kelley:

“Fine.”

Sometimes I wonder if that’s the response that Adam got from Cain when he asked him throughout his life, “So how was your day, son?” I can almost see in my mind Abraham, at over 100 years old, walking into the tent, laying down his cane, and saying the same thing to Isaac, “So, my boy, my great hope, my promise from God… How was your day?”

“Fine.”

It’s the tried and true answer that kids give when they don’t really want to talk about how their day was; something to get their parents off their back so they can go back to the Wii, or the coloring, or the whatever. It’s also the answer that simultaneously infuriates and saddens moms and dads who want to have real interaction with their children that they haven’t seen sometimes for several hours.

I don’t like the answer. I’m not okay with the answer. There has to be more to it than that. In the answer, I feel the waning influence over my children; the reality that over time I will become less and less the main influence in their lives is acutely apparent. We’ve got to push passed the mere “fine” and into the details. But how do you do so with patience and love? Here are a couple of hints that seem to be effective (at least 10% of the time) with our kids who are now age 8, 5, and 2.

1. Show respect.

I know how I would feel if I were involved in something and somebody suddenly demanded to have an in depth conversation about something entirely different. It’s a way of showing our respect to our kids to pick the right moment. Let them finish the game. Let them finish their picture. Then make your move. The tendency, though, is that as the day gets later and later, the time for conversation gets shorter and shorter and pretty soon the opportunity is gone. That leads us to number 2:

2. Establish a regular time and place.

For us, this is the dinner table. Over time, and it doesn’t and hasn’t happened over night, our kids know that we expect genuine conversation over dinner. There’s no TV on; no books or phones or toys allowed at the table. Just us. It’s sometimes a battle to pry open their mouths and hearts, but the pattern has developed. But don’t just be satisfied with asking, “How was your day?” Go the extra step in opening up the communication…

3. Get creative.

“How was your day?” is a fine question; it’s just pretty bland. Try to get a little creative. Often, we will play “Two Truths and a Lie” at the table, where the kids have to share 2 truths and 1 lie about their day. The rest of the family has to guess what the lie is. This is more effective with the 8 year old than the 2 year old; but we still celebrate when the 2 year old can articulate 3 things about his day. Another way to get creative is to just spice up the question a little bit:

“Tell me something unusual that happened today.”

“What was the most amazing thing that happened at kindergarten today?”

“Complete this sentence: My day would have been more exciting if…” This last one is pretty fun; the last time we asked this question we found out that 2nd grade would have been more exciting if a herd of zebras had invaded the lunch room. Indeed it would. But that led us down the road of discussing math, playground games, and other stuff.

4. Be specific.

Instead of the general question, ask about specific relationships. Ask about tests. Ask about what you talked about the previous night. We want to show our kids not only that we care, but that we actually remember. But to do that, we have to listen, and then bring up what’s been talked about before. Which is, in truth, easier said than done, especially since I at least am already preoccupied with how my own day went.

5. Have fun.

Sometimes the day really was just fine. That’s fine, even if I don’t want it to be. But it’s during those “fine” times when you can branch out and talk about upcoming family events, vacations, and other stuff.

In the end, though, the whole conversation is about reminding the kids that their first outlet can and should be their parents. Just as our first outlet is our Father, who always listens and cares.

10 Reasons God Allows Suffering

November 7, 2012

Jared Wilson, in Gospel Deeps, writes that “while we may not be satisfied with what God has revealed about his purposes in suffering, we cannot justifiably say he has not revealed anything about his purposes in suffering. We may not have the answer we are laboring for, but we do have a wealth of answers that lie in the same field.”

Here’s an outline of ten reasons he identifies in God’s Word:

  1. To remind us that the world is broken and groans for redemption [Rom. 8:20-23].
  2. To do justice in response to Adam’s (and our) sin.
  3. To remind us of the severity of the impact of Adam’s (and our) sin.
  4. To keep us dependent on God [Heb. 12:6-7].
  5. So that we will long more for heaven and less for the world.
  6. To make us more like Christ, the suffering servant [Rom. 8:292 Cor. 1:54:11].
  7. To awaken the lost to their need for God [Ps. 119:6771].
  8. To make the bliss of heaven more sweet [Rom. 8:181 Pet. 4:13Ps. 126:5Isa. 61:3].
  9. So that Christ will get the glory in being our strength [John 9:32 Cor. 4:7].
  10. And so that, thereby, others see that he is our treasure, and not ourselves [2 Cor. 4:8-9].

See Jared C. Wilson, Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), pp. 114-120 for an elaboration of each point.

Memory (Verse) Monday

November 5, 2012

This week’s memory verse for Preschoolers-5th grade is from Psalm 119:105 – Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

 

On Sunday, November 18 we will have a donut hole party during the Sunday School hour. 

 

For every verse your child has memorized since August 2012, he/she will receive one donut hole. 

 

Let me know if your child does NOT normally attend Sunday School but would like to participate on November 18 and share their memorized verses for donut holes. We need to make sure we have enough donuts! 

 

Memory (Verse) Monday

October 22, 2012

This week’s memory verse for Preschoolers-5th grade is from Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: rejoice!

 

Encourage your kids to memorize this verse and be ready to say it for a prize during Durham Sunday School at 9:30 this Sunday, October 28.