Theology for Kids?
Does God want our children to learn theology? ABSOLUTELY! In Psalm 78, Asaph the psalmist says that the purpose of his psalm is to teach children who God is and what he has done to save his people in the history of salvation.
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;Psalm 78:1, 3–4, ESV
incline your ears to the words of my mouth! . . .
things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
It is worth noting that Psalm 78 is called a Maskill, which is an instructional psalm that teaches God’s people how to wisely navigate life. This emphasis of parents instructing their children in God’s Word so that they may “set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Psalm 78:7) is reiterated in Proverbs 1:8 and Ephesians 6:4.
But Isn’t Theology BORING for Kids?
Theology is the study of God! It’s the study of who he is as God (his might, Psalm 78:4) and what he has done (his glorious deeds, Psalm 78:4). If we think teaching theology to our children is boring, then we are saying that God is boring! But as we know, God is anything but boring—he is the greatest, most breathtaking, exhilarating, and life-changing reality there is. And God wants us—and our children—to know it. Just think about what Moses did after God rescued Israel through the Red Sea. He wrote them a song to sing, which was full of theology:
The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?Exodus 15:2, 11
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”
And who sang it? The people of Israel (15:1), which included lots of kids! On the other side of the Red Sea, kids sang about the greatness of their God—the mighty warrior who cast their enemy into the sea. Do you think the kids were bored with what they had just seen or with Moses’s song?
Jonathan Gibson and I wrote The Acrostic of God: A Rhyming Theology for Kids to spotlight various attributes, characteristics, names, and titles of God which are revealed in Scripture. In book one of The Acrostic Theology for Kids series, our emphasis is on the Triune God:
Ultimately, God’s character and his saving works are revealed most fully and finally in the person and work of Jesus Christ, especially in his sacrificial death for sinners and his glorious resurrection (John 14:9, 2 Corinthians 4:4–6). So it’s essential that we pass on this life-changing truth in an accessible way to the next generation.
Does the Bible Help Make Theology Fun and Memorable?
Yes! The Bible helps us to teach theology to kids in a way that they’ll remember and have fun.Perhaps you already noticed that many of the Bible passages quoted above are songs. As Hebrew poetry, the Psalms and other songs of salvation have meter, rhythm (think “beats!”), parallelism, word play, alliteration, and many times—rhyme! Sometimes these rhymes are simple, in which only the last syllable of each line rhymes (like in Cat in the Hat). But other times, there are multiple rhyme scheme syllables, such as an AB/AB rhyme scheme. For instance, consider Psalm 42:1. The repetition of the Hebrew verb “to long for” (תַּעֲרֹ֥ג, ta-ah-rōg) highlighted in red is part A of the rhyme scheme, while part B of the rhyme scheme is word for “water” (מָ֑יִם, may-īm) which rhymes with “God” (אֱלֹהִֽים, El-o-him):
|number of syllables
| כְּאַיָּ֗ל תַּעֲרֹ֥ג עַל־אֲפִֽיקֵי־מָ֑יִם
כֵּ֤ן נַפְשִׁ֨י תַעֲרֹ֖ג אֵלֶ֣יךָ אֱלֹהִֽים׃
|Just like a deer longs for deep-streams of water,
In the same way my soul longs for You, O God!
But that’s not all! The first line of some songs, like Psalm 42, have an identical number of syllables as the second line. Identical syllable counts like this help make songs catchy and easy to remember. When a fun song is stuck in your head, the truth it contains is readily available for instant recall—even for the rest of your life!
What’s an Acrostic Poem?
Besides rhythm and rhyme, God has another teaching tool in his Word to help us and our children learn: acrostic poems. As we say in The Acrostic of God:
In acrostic poems, the first word in each line or stanza begins with the respective letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Psalm 119, the longest chapter and poem in the Bible, is written in acrostic style. From first to last, each letter of the Hebrew alphabet contains eight verses that begin with that letter. Here is how Psalm 119:1–8 appears in Hebrew, as each verse begins with an aleph (א), the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet:
|אַשְׁרֵ֥י תְמִֽימֵי־דָ֑רֶךְ הַֽ֝הֹלְכִ֗ים בְּתוֹרַ֥ת יְהוָֽה׃
אַ֭שְׁרֵי נֹצְרֵ֥י עֵדֹתָ֗יו בְּכָל־לֵ֥ב יִדְרְשֽׁוּהוּ׃
אַ֭ף לֹֽא־פָעֲל֣וּ עַוְלָ֑ה בִּדְרָכָ֥יו הָלָֽכוּ׃
אַ֭תָּה צִוִּ֥יתָה פִקֻּדֶ֗יךָ לִשְׁמֹ֥ר מְאֹֽד׃
אַ֭חֲלַי יִכֹּ֥נוּ דְרָכָ֗י לִשְׁמֹ֥ר חֻקֶּֽיךָ׃
אָ֥ז לֹא־אֵב֑וֹשׁ בְּ֝הַבִּיטִ֗י אֶל־כָּל־מִצְוֹתֶֽיךָ׃
א֭וֹדְךָ בְּיֹ֣שֶׁר לֵבָ֑ב בְּ֝לָמְדִ֗י מִשְׁפְּטֵ֥י צִדְקֶֽךָ׃
אֶת־חֻקֶּ֥יךָ אֶשְׁמֹ֑ר אַֽל־תַּעַזְבֵ֥נִי עַד־מְאֹֽד׃
Another part of the Bible that is highly acrostic is the Book of Lamentations, with the first four chapters being written as acrostic poems. God put acrostic poems in the Bible as a fun and memorable way for his people (grown-ups, and kids!) to recall his Word and know him better.
Will You Join Us?
The Gibsons and Brindles have thirteen children combined, eleven here on earth, and two daughters waiting for us in heaven—Leila and Johanna. We take seriously God’s command to teach our children his Word (Deuteronomy 6:6–7) and to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). But we also strongly believe that it doesn’t have be boring. Indeed, it should be enjoyable and fun! So why not join us in joyfully teaching your children and grandchildren, nephews and nieces, students and neighbors, who God is and what he has done in Jesus Christ.
The Acrostic of God: A Rhyming Theology for Kids
By giving children an alphabetical list of the titles and attributes of God written with a rhyming beat, Jonathan Gibson and Timothy Brindle make The Acrostic of God fun to read and easy to memorize. Each characteristic, A to Z, weaves together a beautiful picture of God.