Theology for Four Year Olds

OK, I am stuck.  Ethan is starting to ask really hard questions.  He has a little Bible story book that we read from every night before bed.  I usually let him choose the story.  Last night we read a story about the resurrection. 

At the end of the story, I made the stupid move of asking if he understood the story.  He said yes.  Then the real discussion started:

Ethan:  So Jesus died?

Me: Yes Ethan, but God raised him from dead.

Ethan:  But Daddy, Jesus is God.

Me: Yes, He is.

Ethan: I don’t understand.

Me:  Oh my look at the time.  Should we pray?

Ethan:  I don’t understand.

Me:  …(should I fake my own death?)…Well Jesus is God, but another part of him raised himself from the dead.  (I did not just say that…should have gone for faking death)

Ethan:  I don’t understand.

Me:  Who should we pray for?

Luckily the second distraction worked.  But as it turns out…he sleeps every night.

So this is where you all come in with your plethora of children.  How do I answer his question without a) going over his head or b) talking down to him? 

By the way do not search yahoo images for the word trinity.  MY EYES!

By Ben Posted in Life

8 comments on “Theology for Four Year Olds

  1. Ok, number one, use Google to search for images. They have what is called safe search. It works pretty well. Keeps you from having to poke out your eyeballs.

    What is wrong with telling him that you don’t really understand it either, but somehow God is made up of three different people. I really really want to be able to answer all my kids questions, but I learned from Lee not to try. He would set me up. He would ask me some bizarre science fact question, and if I said anything along the lines of well I think this, or I’m pretty sure that, then he would nail me with the answer that he already knew. He only got me a couple of times, but it sure taught me to stay honest.
    Most kids are ok with the fact that you don’t know. Unless of course you are talking about Santa Claus. Then they are on you like a Tim on cobbler baby. You better KNOW about the big man!
    I have tried different things with my kids, the clover leaf, water. They sort of get it. We all just sort of get it. Look at it as an opportunity to teach him about faith and what that is, rather than an opportunity to look stupid.
    Though I can also recommend faking your death, or at least a good fit of narcolepsy. Changes the subject every time.

  2. Okay now I got to share, I wrote this back in May…enjoy 🙂

    (It is a little long so I broke it into two sections)

    “That morning I was doing some laundry, Kim was still asleep, the girls were in their room playing quietly or so I thought. Come to find out that our oldest (Hannah, who is 8 years old) was reading a very dangerous book, the Bible. Now like you I thought the Bible was a safe book for her to read, but NO IT IS NOT!!! It leads them to ask very dangerous questions, not dangerous for them, but for me as a parent!

    So she comes walking out of her room and joins me in the laundry room, then looking up at me she asked, “Daddy, what does circumcision mean?” I said, “What?” in a very choking manner. Then she aid it again, “What does circumcision mean?” That is what I thought she said.

    At this point several thoughts ran through my mind. The first thought was to run! I knew I could out run here still, plus I have experience on my side and I could use that to get away from this no very dangerous child. (I know she looks innocent and cute, but I tell you she is dangerous, full of questions and wanting answers. Her smile may look adorable, but behind it there is a mind at work that is intent on making me answer questions I don’t even want to think about!) So I looked around, no way out! I am trapped! “Oh God what do I do now!” I prayed.

    I knew not to panic or show fear, when a dangerous child smells fear that will lead to other dangerous questions like the dreaded “Where do babies come from?”

    My next thought was to yell for Kim and wake her up or better yet to send the child into the bedroom and have her wake up Kim herself! Yes, this might work, but if I did that I might face a bigger danger, the angry wife. No I couldn’t do that. (I kept thinking this kind of thing only happens on Sitcoms and was looking around for the camera.)

    The next thought I had was to lie. Yes! This could work! While she is a dangerous child, she is still naive enough that I could get away with this. My brain worked quick and hard, I ran through several possibilities I could tell her, but none of them would work, too many holes, even an 8 year old would have saw through them. (I know to lie is a sin, but hey this was my survival we are talking about!).

    I thought I might be able to create some kind of emergency! I looked at the washer and the dryer, what could I do to them? Maybe I just climb inside the dryer itself, YES! I could do that, no I wouldn’t fit. Another reason to lose weight!

    I could feel my life ebbing away. “Oh God, what can I do? I am going down, I need you!” …..

  3. …..Finally I breathed deep. And said, “Honey, lets go sit down on the couch” I had no idea what I was going to say, I was just stalling for time, hoping that I could think of something. I had crammed 4 years of Bible college into 5 years, I should be able to handle this. But no where in all that time in Bible college did I have a class on ‘How to answer dangerous questions of a child.’I began to think, “You know Bible College should really do a better job at equipping people. In fact I should go and write somebody right know!” Then I recalled that I was walking that last mile to the couch with my daughter. Sigh, that letter would have to wait. As we sat down, I prayed, “God, don’t let her seven year old sister come in.”

    We sat on the couch, I had no idea what I was going to say. And to be honest I have no idea what I did say. I do remember asking, “Do you understand?” though! And an incredible sigh of relief went through me she nodded her head and said, “Yes.” Did I make sense, was I doctrinally correct? I don’t care! I was out of danger and that is all that mattered! I survived! I looked around I wanted somebody to pin a medal on my chest.

    Alas no one was there to see my heroic deed this morning. Just another no named battle in the ongoing war of “Being the Father of Daughters.” But I tell you this much, when Audrey the 7 year old asks this question, I am going to wake up Kim!”

    Hope you enjoyed it!

  4. Wow, Tim – that is some story. Great stuff! Can’t….er… wait for my own kids to ask such questions…! HA!

    In response to Ben, wow man – you do the best you can. My men’s group and I were actually discussing the Trinity this AM over coffee (we’re reading through Augustine’s “On Christian Doctrine”). On a deeper theological note, Augustine’s view of One Essence of God in Three distinct Persons of Father, Son and Spirit is the “orthodox” view of the Trinity. But honestly, I’m showing off because to explain what this means or how this works is in the reality we live is daunting and I fear it.

    You do the best you can with what you know. Jesus is God – Jesus is Human. It is the beautiful mystery of the incarnation and the beauty of John 1 (my favorite Christmas story) and Philippians 2. The almighty God humbled himself to take on the form of human to save us. Fully God – Fully Human. A Mystery.

    All that to say – you’re best to admit that it’s a crazy cool thing that you have no idea what it means! HA!

  5. And the winner for best explanation goes to…Talon Wolf…Talon has won an all expeses paid trip to Las Vegas, NV.

    I want to thank everyone for participating. All contestants will receive a years supply of Turtle Wax and Rice O’ Roni, the San Francisco treat.

    Void where prohibited (CA, NV, CO, MI, AK, VA). All contestant must have submitted with their legal name in order to be eligible for the grand prize.

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