By Fred Zaspel–
Bruce A. Ware. Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009.
Reviewed by Fred Zaspel
Professional theologians often get a bad wrap. Many think the entire “theological enterprise” is irrelevant. Among those a bit more Christian in their thinking, many still consider it boring (and if they do, shame on their pastors who have given them reason to think so!). And among those who do recognize the value of theology, few would expect that a professional theologian could to bring his lectures and learning to the interest and profit level of young children.
But what if he could? What if a capable, recognized, and reliable theologian had learned by happy experience with his own family to teach Biblical truth to young children? And what, then, if he would put what he had learned in a book for other parents to use in the training of their young children?
What a wonderful contribution this book from Bruce Ware is! My excitement reading through this book could scarcely be contained. Churches everywhere should be buying this book by the box-full for distribution to all their young families and for use in home schools, Sunday Schools, and other children’s meetings.
Ware tells us in his introduction of his experience teaching his two daughters when they were young. And in the following chapters we are led to believe that he learned his job well. He divides the book of about 200 pages into ten sections of six or so chapters each, as follows:
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
Each chapter is only three pages, narrating solid biblical theology in terms children will understand and enjoy, and providing a memory verse for each. On the back cover the editors have stated that the book is designed for children ages 9 and up, but I suspect there are many children younger than that who could handle the material well also. This is not a picture book. It is a book for parents to read to their children, and Ware has done an excellent job enabling you, the parent, to “talk theology” to your children on their level.
Ware does not avoid Biblical or theological terminology — such as “sanctification” or “progressive sanctification,” for example. He even mentions an important Greek word here or there, such as homoousias. But he explains all such words simply and clearly and with helpful child-level illustrations and applications, and he illustrates why they are important to know. Reading the book yourself you will feel that your are eve’s dropping as he talks to young children, and you will be impressed with the clarity he gives.
This is a wonderful and important resource for Christian parents. Many Christian parents have (rightly or wrongly) felt ill-equipped to teach Bible doctrine to their children, and many have lamented that so much of Christian literature for children is shallow and trite. Ware has eliminated both problems, and provided parents with a tool that merits use and re-use for all their children’s growing up years. I would recommend that parents use this book for devotions and/or bed-time reading for children beginning about age 9, reading through the book over and again for several years. What wonderful — perhaps eternal — good you will do for your children if you do. As your children grow, watch with grateful heart how their understanding of Biblical teaching increases. Thank God as they grow in their comprehension of God and his perfections, Jesus and his sinless glory and saving work, the nature and power of God’s grace, and so on. And when they get to their teen years, have them read it again on their own to still more profit. This book is one to be used and re-used.
And for those who suspect that theology is boring and/or out of reach to children, this book is the happy antidote. As I read this book I prayed that God will give it the widest use to the saving and molding of this next generation. May God have it so!
Fred Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also the interim Senior Pastor at New Hyde Park Baptist Church on New York’s Long Island, and Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is also the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010) and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Crossway, 2012).