Borrowing from Karl Barth, Peter Enns suggests an analogy for understanding the nature and role of Scripture—like Jesus, who was human and divine, the Bible is both a human book and a God-inspired one, as the Holy Spirit moved men to write the story of God and His people without abandoning their personalities or cultural context. The result is a truly unique text revealing the nature of God Himself through His interactions with humans and their societies.
Telling God's Story: A Parents' Guide to Teaching the Bible introduces the Bible's narrative and themes to parents who want to educate their children concerning God's Word but don't know where to start. Enns compares the Bible to a teen's messy room, pointing out that many Christian adults have never had the Bible sufficiently explained and don't understand the significance of the Levitical laws or many of the cultural references and worldviews represented in both Testaments.
Understanding these cultural contexts, Enns says, is crucial. Without context, modern readers are at a loss to know why the Israelites weren't supposed to wear clothing of mixed fabric, or why Abraham's servant put his hand under his master's thigh to swear an oath (or why there are so many chapters about the dimensions of the tabernacle). Without going into great scholarly detail, Enns demonstrates the major contextual themes of the Bible and provides a three-part system for imparting them to kids.
For grades 1-4, kids need to learn the Gospel basics as exemplified by the life of Christ and His parables. This provides a good foundation for grades 5-8, when children are taught the general sweep of the Scripture narrative and some of the salient theological points. In high school, they learn to piece things together and study the cultural, historical and religious contexts in which the various parts of the Bible were written. This is by no means a quick and easy program, but it does pay off.
Enns also includes a 5-chapter analysis of the main points in the biblical story and a critique of traditional methods of teaching the Bible to kids. It should be noted that many (including us) find Enns' views on inspiration unorthodox, and that he was removed from his teaching position at Westminster Theological Seminary (East) because of them, but these don't color Telling God's Story in a noticeable way. This is an excellent guide, though we do strongly urge you to read the whole volume closely before implementing it for your kids' education.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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