parents, are you moralists or theologians?

Of course the two aren’t mutually exclusive.  

But what’s your bent when you teach your kids what Christianity is all about?  I admit that it’s easier for me to fall into teaching my kids the moralistic part of Christianity as the main point.

Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Seminary, has a new book out called, Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God.  Justin Taylor interviews him about it on his blog.  

Here’s the killer excerpt:

I suspect that most parents are more comfortable teaching their kids Christian ethics (love God, don’t love the world, tell the truth, don’t cheat or steal, etc.) than they are teaching them Christian theology (how can God be three and one? How is Jesus God and man?). Why is it important for parents to learn good theology and pass it on to their kids?

He follows up the question by saying:

The Christian faith is not moralism. Yet, we can (wrongly and dangerously!) pervert the Christian faith into this, in our homes and our churches. Our lists of “do’s” and “don’t’s” can become the sum and substance of our understanding of the Christian faith, and in this self-esteem saturated culture, this ends up redounding to the glory of the “self,” not the glory of God.

How much time do I spend making sure my kids understand the morality of Christianity compared to the time I spend diligently teaching them the truths of who God is, why Jesus came, and the total depravity of man.  We do talk about them, but is it primary?    

Moralism is easy.

It’s easy for grown-ups and kids.  We all know what to do with a rule.  Don’t lie.  Be kind.  Pray often.  Don’t envy.  And then we either feel good about keeping it or we feel good about breaking it.  Or guilty.  But massive weighty truths about God affect us differently.  They actually have the power to transform our mind, our heart, our worldview.

Here’s some truths that Dr. Ware says we all need to embrace, learn and teach:

  • who God is in his eternal fullness as the triune God,
  • who God is as Creator of all that is,
  • who we are as created in his image,
  • what sin is and has done to us,
  • why Christ came, who Christ is,
  • what he accomplished,
  • how we receive the benefits of his work on the cross,
  • what God provides for us to grow as his people,
  • what these communities of faith called “churches” are and what they contribute,
  • and what hope we have for life now and forever

I haven’t read Dr. Ware’s book, so I won’t endorse it.  But the stuff from his interview sure is helpful.  

How do you navigate being a parent-theologian?  It’s a big job isn’t it?!