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Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God Paperback – March 31, 2009
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"This is a great book for children and their parents on the classic doctrines of the faith. I heartily recommend it to every parent!"
—Dennis Rainey, president and CEO, FamilyLife; host, FamilyLife Today; author, Stepping Up
"My conversion and discipleship as a young girl were significantly influenced by my parents reading to our family a book that taught biblical doctrine to children in a systematic way. The church today must be intentional in passing on to the next generation the core and precious beliefs on which our Christian faith rests. To neglect that responsibility is to leave those who come behind us vulnerable to every wind of (false) doctrine and to risk their rejecting our faith altogether. Big Truths for Young Hearts is a rich resource for parents, teachers, and others who care about helping the next generation know and love God and his ways. In addition to being a theology course for children and young people, it is also a great refresher course for adults."
—Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author; Bible teacher; host, Revive Our Hearts
"Imagine a respected theologian devoting himself to training a new generation of pastors and scholars in the seminary classroom. Now imagine him driving home at night to teach that profound theology in simple terms to his children at their bedsides. Now imagine this father compiling those bedside conversations into a book available to all pastors, parents, and children alike. Imagine no more. My friend Dr. Bruce Ware has done it."
—C. J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church, Louisville, Kentucky
"I praise God that this book has been written and that a person of Bruce Ware's theological stature has taken seriously the potential of theological training in the first two decades of life. Although this tool can serve different instructional venues, I cannot help but see the gift this is to Christian parents and to dads in particular who are charged with the spiritual instruction of their children. The foreword alone is worth the price of this book and more than enough inspiration to follow Bruce's example in the faithful instruction of his two daughters. What Christian father would not want to be remembered by his adult children as a man who loved the gospel and who faithfully imparted the truth on which they now firmly stand. Dear brothers, imagine the impact on future generations if our children could grasp what has taken some of us decades to understand. Take this beautifully written, Bible-saturated, God-centered, theologically comprehensive summary of the truth and teach it diligently to your children, and until your children leave your home talk of it when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."
—David Michael, founder of Children Desiring God, Minneapolis, MN
About the Author
Bruce A. Ware (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, and has authored God's Lesser Glory, God's Greater Glory, and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
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Book Review Details
Title: Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God
Author: Bruce A. Ware, Ph.D.
Publisher: Crossway (2009)
Category: Parenting, Theology, Discipleship
Reviewed By: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC, Author of Soul Physicians, Spiritual Friends, Beyond the Suffering, and Sacred Friendships
Recommended: A highly recommended antidote to the dumb-downed, frills, and cotton-candy approach so prevalent in American Evangelicalism today.
Review: An Evangelical Catechism for Kids Ages 10 to 100!
When someone like Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and 2009 President of the Evangelical Theological Society, writes a book on theology, I take notice. When he writes it for parents and children--my interest is truly sparked.
Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God is a modern-day Evangelical catechism. Ware's purpose is to equip parents to raise their children to know and love God through raising them to know and love theology. How sad that such a goal seems so foreign in so many Christian circles today.
In many ways, as indicated by the precious foreword written by Ware's young-adult daughters, Big Truths for Young Hearts is the "Theology 101" he taught (and modeled and lived) for and in front of his daughters. He's just graciously sharing it with the rest of us. There is no grander testimony than their words, "Dad really believes the things that are in this book. His theology shapes the way he lives, as we have seen many times" (p. 11). There is no greater parental challenge than their challenge to us: "To parents: it may sound cliché, but we followed our father's teaching in part because he practiced what he preached. Like all children, we needed to look up and see our parents looking up at a great God who has great things in store for those who love him" (p. 12).
Ware's own testimony about the origin of the book mirrors his daughter's memories. From the time they were toddlers, he tried creatively to teach them the same theology sequence he was teaching his seminary students. Ware has crafted his two-decade-long instruction of his girls into a theology book for parents and children.
The book covers the classic core doctrines of systematic theology. (Shh. Just don't tell the children the "theological terms" in the parentheses below!)
*Chapter One: God's Word (Bibliology) and God's Own Life (Theology Proper)
*Chapter Two: God As Three in One (Trinitarian Theology)
*Chapter Three: Creator and Ruler of All (Theology Proper, The Sovereignty and Glory of God)
*Chapter Four: Our Human Nature (Anthropology) and Our Sin (Hamartiology)
*Chapter Five: Who Jesus Is (Christology)
*Chapter Six: The Work Jesus Has Done (Christology/Soteriology)
*Chapter Seven: The Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
*Chapter Eight: Our Great Salvation (Soteriology, Election, Sanctification)
*Chapter Nine: The Church of Jesus Christ (Ecclesiology)
*Chapter Ten: What Will Take Place in the End (Eschatology)
Big Truths for Young Hearts is meant to be read together--parents and children. Each chapter is like a series of brief "theology devotionals," each about three pages in length, and each concluding with Questions for Thought and with Memory Verses.
Frankly, as I read each chapter I kept thinking, "Now this is how theology should be taught to adults and to seminary students!" And I'm a seminary professor who teaches a class on theology for biblical counseling. In other words, any adult, no matter how well schooled in Evangelical theology, could and would benefit from this book. The book is beautifully written, Bible-saturated, Christ-centered, creatively-illustrated (word-pictures), and theologically-comprehensive.
As a parent of two young adult children, and as a parent who attempted to do similar training with our children, I repeatedly asked myself, "At what ages would this book `work'"? The reading level is likely best suited for the late elementary to the young adult. I would imagine that most children--toddler through fourth grade--might have somewhat of a difficult time staying with the reading.
I was a little surprised that there were no "Instructions for Parents." This excellent book could benefit from a "Parents' Manual" which could give parents ideas for how to "teach" and not just "read" these truths. What creative methods might a parent use? How could a parent best engage a child in the material? What personal life applications could parents and children discuss? How could parents apply the Deuteronomy 6 principle of "throughout the day" inculcation of truth applied to life? Big Truths for Young Hearts is a "what to teach book" (and does it extremely well). It is not, per se, a "how to teach" book. Perhaps a companion training book is in the works.
That said, Big Truths for Young Hearts is still a tremendous book for adults, young adults, middler schoolers, and high schoolers. It is an excellent book for parents to explore and apply with their pre-teens and teens. It would make a fine Sunday School book for teachers in grades 5th through Senior Saints! Youth groups, small groups, and homeschooling groups all will find Big Truths for Young Hearts very attractive, informative, and beneficial.
In the book's introduction, Ware explains that as his daughters grew up, he began to realize that what he had been teaching them each night at their bedsides was the same material he had been teaching to his seminary students for decades! This led to the idea of writing a book that would progress systematically through the essential doctrines of Christianity on a level that is accessible and understandable for children, without compromising on the rich truths expressed in Scripture.
I have to say, he has done a great job with this! Far too often we underestimate the ability of children to grasp the deep things of God. How tragic! They understand far more than we think, and in many cases, probably more than we do. After all, Jesus didn't tell children to have faith like adults! There is a deep need for our children to be brought up immersed in the Word, and this book will be a great resource for parents seeking to raise their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). I am personally thankful to have this tool as I pursue my aim of becoming a Proverbs 4 dad!
Though this book says it is written for ages 9 and up, it is by no means childish. To be perfectly honest, most adults could stand to learn much from this book! We live in an age where an intellectual pursuit of theology is not much emphasized in evangelical culture, and it is probably safe to assume that the vast majority of Christians have never devoted themselves to a serious and systematic study of theology. If a 1200+ page seminary text seems intimidating, this quite manageable 230-page paperback could be the ideal starting point for many!