Wednesday 13 March 2024

Thinking Theologically About Children, by Robyn Boeré (Grove Doctrine D11)

Robyn Boeré, Thinking Theologically About Children. Grove Doctrine D11 (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2024)

As I’m on the editorial group for Grove Doctrine, I plan to promote (but not review) each of the books released in the series as and when they’re published.

Children are made in God’s image, but all too often the body of Christ does not know what this means or looks like in practice. There is a lack of theological reflection on who the child is and on what the child offers, especially in terms of Christian discipleship. ‘In churches’, Robyn Boeré observes,

children are excluded from places of power and decision-making, and often from the most liturgically important parts of our church services. They are part of Messy Church or Sunday school in some other space, while adults reside in the sanctuary. As a consequence, churches disregard and dismiss children’s value, spiritual development, insights, knowledge and moral agency. As in broader society, children in churches are often treated merely in terms of care, protection and formation or education. Of course, these things are important, but they miss what children can offer to everyone in who they are as children (p. 4).

These last two words—as children—are important because even though childhood is an early stage in human development, it has much to say about what it means to be human and, indeed, children of God. Boeré contends, ‘We can only understand human childhood properly in light of what it means to be children of God, and we can only understand what it means to be children of God through human childhood’ (p. 6). In the Bible, and in the New Testament especially, children are presented as models of discipleship adults would do well to consider for themselves, and Boeré uses the ideas of Karl Rahner and Kathryn Tanner to tease out the implications.

Thinking Theologically About Children is available for £4.95 from the Grove Books website (in both print and electronic formats), as well as through Christian bookshops.

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