This summer, our church’s Sunday School program pulled together a curriculum for the K-5th grade students. They focused on God and science. Biologists, mathematicians, astronomers, nurses, and chemists from our church congregation presented lessons to the children each Sunday morning, accompanied by group experiments, worship songs, and more. The kids came alive with each presentation and excitedly discussed God and science in one breath. We could all see that something uniquely important had taken place this summer. God and science aren’t two opposed “things” to these children; they go hand in hand. It was a beautiful effort on the part of our teachers and members, and is one of the many reasons we’re thankful to presently be part of this church body.
Have you asked your kids “How do you know God exists?” lately? I’m not sure I’m brave enough to ask mine and share their answers here. I like to think my husband and I do a pretty good job of helping them think carefully about God… but we all know how kids have a way of humbling us. Often publicly. However, in the interest of encouraging you to continue/start talking with your kids about God, I’ll ask one of them and share their answer. Here we go.
Friends, we recently finished reading Why Does God Allow Evil? by Dr. Clay Jones. It’s the fantastic culminating work of decades of teaching and research. Buy it. Read it. The end.
Last week we briefly summarized Apologetics for a New Generation, but we wanted to emphasize some of the key aspects of application that the authors cover. While this book covered a broad variety of topics, it was all geared toward reaching young people for Christ. To that end, there were plenty of suggestions on how to apply that toward teaching apologetics to students.
This week we were pleased to receive a review copy of Tipping our Kings: Finding the Truth in a World Full of Options by Jack Crabtree.
Jack is an international missionary in training who isn’t waiting to be in a far off land before he takes part in the great commission. He writes, “Talking to people is easy, but impacting lives is God’s business, not ours. It must be Him working through us.”
Tipping our Kings recounts the true story of two men whose budding friendship is built upon conversations of the utmost importance. Jack candidly shares his initial feelings of prejudice and selfishness as he tries to avoid Nicholas, a philosophy student and professor, after his wife suggests that they should meet. His feelings quickly change as he sees the eternal significance of their conversations.
In Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis wrote:
“It is a serious thing, to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”
Readers will find that the retelling enables them to trace the work of the Spirit throughout the friendship, and will be reminded that no one is exempt from the outcomes described by Lewis above.
The book crescendos with an all-night conversation between Nicholas and Jack that is sure to encourage Christians, and conversely challenge non-Christians.
- Professional book quality. Sturdy paper and a typeface that won’t leave you squinting.
- Quick and enjoyable read. We both read through in one sitting.
- Jack’s writing style and the content of his story is very interesting and encouraging.
- The appendices offer valuable tools for practical apologetic conversations.
- This is not so much a “con” as it is a “heads up.” There are some philosophical discussions included that will likely fly right over the head of younger folks. There are definitions for some of the trickier terms, though, which we find to be a helpful touch. For this reason, we would probably recommend that parents read the book before passing it on to their high school aged child so that they will be able to better answer any questions that arise.
Pick up a copy here: Tipping our Kings: Finding the Truth in a World Full of Options
We were excited to pick up a copy of the first book in the Young Defenders series, How Do We Know God is Really There? by Melissa Cain Travis, this week. Below, we will share briefly what we found to be the pros and cons of the book.
- Presents important Christian apologetic arguments in a children’s medium.
- The flow of conversation seems natural, and the young character’s imagination is endearing.
- The young character’s father is patient and thorough as he shares evidence for God’s existence.
- This book addresses the gap. That is, the lack of Christian apologetics materials available to families with young children. We look forward to seeing the next topic addressed by Travis!
- Written by a graduate of the well-respected Christian Apologetics Masters program at Biola University. We didn’t have to be as apprehensive about the theological undergirding of the material.
- Good Quality. The physical product is a sturdy, 48 page, hardcover book.
- The words are legible and readable.
- The illustrations are full-color and full-page. From artist Christopher Voss.
- At times complex for the assumed age range. At times, the language seems appropriate for young children, but at others, it seems to be for 5th grade and older. An adult can help clarify for younger kiddos.
- The illustrations have a “rough draft” flavor. Part of us wishes they had been polished a bit more, and the other part of us realizes children will probably not be bothered by this at all!
Do We Recommend it?
Despite the cons that we laid out above, we think that this book is a useful, entertaining tool that can help families begin conversations about why they believe in the Christian God. It is so important to begin these discussions at a young age, and to assure our children that asking questions is encouraged and biblical. We look forward to more Young Defender books, as well as other authors stepping into the youth apologetics gap.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’” (Matthew 22:37)
Read more about Melissa Cain Travis’ quest in Biola Magazine.
Pick up a copy here: How Do We Know God is Really There? by Melissa Cain Travis (2013)
Today we are reviewing a children’s book written by renowned apologist, William Lane Craig, titled Dr. Craig’s “What is God Like?” God is Spirit: The Attributes of God for Children. Dr. Craig is also the author of On Guard and Reasonable Faith and is a research professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Marli Renee illustrated the book and is based in California.
God is Spirit is the first of ten booklets written by Dr. Craig as part of his “What is God Like?” series. The series presents theological truths about God(such as omniscience and eternity, yikes!) in child-friendly language, and each booklet contains a memory verse that summarizes the attribute covered by the story. For example, God is Spirit’s memory verse is John 4:24, “God is Spirit.” Pretty straightforward, right?
In each of the booklets, the story follows Brown Bear, Red Goose and their two children, John(a bear) and Charity(a goose). The biologically perplexing family discusses truths about God as they go about daily activities in their home and around town in conversations that focus on the concept rather than a storyline. I appreciated the boiled down wording and the plain delivery of the information. Also wise is Dr. Craig’s decision to devote a separate booklet to each attribute, rather than condensing all of the theology into one or two dense sittings. The illustrations are straightforward like the writing, but are full-page and colorful enough to -hopefully- intrigue a fidgety listener. The wee little goose, Charity, is especially charming.
There is one point in the story where the mother, Red Goose, asks the father, Brown Bear, if it is because God is spirit that He can’t be seen. This struck me as a bit odd, because while the question would be appropriate for one of the children to ask, it seemed a bit strange for the grown(presumably Bible literate) mother to ask such a thing. It is not a major issue, but I will likely substitute one of the children’s names for “mom” when I read that portion to kids. Minor complaints would be that some of the illustrations are inconsistent in quality, and some small punctuation errors were overlooked; though children will likely overlook those things, as well. The overall quality of the booklet was surprisingly good in spite of the very affordable price and the self-publishing route selected by Dr. Craig. Don’t fear the word “booklet”; it is a proper book.
Dr. Craig and Renee manage to convey an important attribute(well, they are all important, aren’t they?) of God in a way that children can digest. Though not an apologetics resource, per-say, these ten booklets will help you lay the groundwork of proper understanding that is essential for biblical understanding and faith defense for your children.
Pick up a copy of this and the other nine booklets here: Dr. Craig’s “What is God Like?” God is Spirit by William Lane Craig, illustrated by Marli Renee
Today we are reviewing a Christian apologetics book written for the 9 and up crowd, titled Case for Faith for Kids(Updated and Expanded). It was written by Lee Strobel, bestselling author of The Case for Faith, The Case for Christ, and The Case for a Creator and holder of law and journalism degrees; Rob Suggs, author and illustrator of several children’s book projects; and Robert Elmer, author of numerous novels including books for young readers.
Reading Strobel’s “The Case for…” series for the first time several years ago was a groundbreaking experience for me. It was my first foray into the land of Christian apologetics, and I quickly discovered that Strobel’s books were written in such a way that reading them never felt like drudgery, though they dealt with philosophical, historical and technical subjects. By presenting the evidence and terminology in plain language, “The Case for…” books invite Christians to ask tough questions, think more deeply, and find solid answers about their faith, Creator, and Savior. So, as I began reading Case for Faith for Kids, I was interested to see how Strobel would present the information without causing mental fatigue and subsequent brain shutdown in young readers.
In 144 pages, Case for Faith for Kids details several common objections and assertions presented by non-believers and skeptics(and even, regrettably, some believers), and then provides reasoned answers to the objections. The authors manage to distill a wealth of logical and philosophical arguments into language and arguments that are appropriate for young readers. For example, the first subject tackled is a big question: “Why would a good god allow bad things?” In brief interview-style segments and plainly worded “bad thing” scenarios, readers are walked through a concise explanation of the nature of evil, God’s role in evil, and free will. By the end of the chapter, the problem of personal and natural evil is determined to be the result of mankind’s free will choices, rather than machinations of God. Sophisticated arguments undergird the highly accessible language and format of this and the other four chapters in Part 1 of the book.
Part 2 contains four vignettes that directly relate to the material covered in Part 1. One of the stories depicts several young people attempting to sneak into a movie showing using counterfeit tickets. The realistic scenario covers the material presented in Chapter 4 – whether the world’s religions all lead to the same God – and serves as a cautionary tale against compromising one’s morals. The book ends with an exhortation to decide which of the four “D”s the reader will become; will they become a Denier, Delayer, Departer or Delighter?
The facts + story + application approach applied by Strobel et al. seems to be an effective technique for transferring the information to young minds and then helping it to stick. For children in junior high and high school, the wording(it can seem a bit condescending to the older crowd at times as it attempts to use “hip” lingo), scenarios, and illustrations may be too childish, and the original The Case for Faith may be more edifying and suitable.
Overall, the usefulness of this book is twofold. On the one hand, for a child 9+ years of age, it is appropriate reading material and a springboard for further apologetical investigation. On the other hand, the book will prove handy for parents who would like to acquire language and examples that can be shared conversationally with older children or quickly adapted for conversations with children younger than 9.
I would recommend Case for Faith for Kids as a good tool for beginning conversations about deep, faith-related issues, firming up belief foundations, and reassuring young children that it is okay to ask the big questions.