“Dad, will my teddy bear be in heaven?”
Without thinking much about his emotions or the way he might react, I quickly told him, “No, he won’t. We don’t get to take any of our stuff to heaven.”
I thought I had handled that one just fine – until my son started crying. I soon realized that to him, heaven wasn’t sounding so great after all. I cleaned up the mess, explaining to him how wonderful heaven was and how everything in heaven was going to be much greater than what we have here.
Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to answer that one.
Other times, though, the answers are much easier. Like the other night, when, for his bedtime, we had a discussion about the deity of Christ and the Trinity.
“Is Jesus God?” he asked.
We had discussed that subject dozens of times, but he was having trouble grasping the concept of Jesus being God and the Father being God and the Holy Spirit being God – and there being one God. I again brought up the subject of the Trinity.
“What’s the Trinity?” he asked, again.
I turned his room light back on and we read a great book, “Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers: The Trinity.” He was satisfied.
Even for parents who have been Christians since they were young, it can be difficult answering children’s questions. But it doesn’t have to be. My advice: Don’t guess the answer to significant questions. Just say, “That’s a great question. Let me think about it,” and then research it. There are some great resources out there – not only for children, but also for parents who are trying to understand an issue enough to provide an answer. Here are a few:
1. Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers. This amazing four-volume set tackles four topics: the Trinity, the Gospel, the Scriptures and the Mission. Although it doesn’t answer every question, it lays the foundation so your child will have a firm grasp of the faith. The pictures and text are stellar. It is aimed at children 4-8. If it can explain the Trinity to young ones, it’s got to be good, right?
2. GQKidz.org. This great (free) website is aimed at young children and gives answers in language they can understand. It is a spinoff of another great site, GotQuestions.org (see below). You can search for specific topics or just browse frequently asked questions. The staff are conservative evangelicals, and for concerned parents, there is a statement of faith.
3. Quality children’s story Bibles. I recommend two: The Big Picture Story Bible and The Jesus Storybook Bible. They’re simply the best ones out there because they show how the entire Bible, including the Old Testament, is about Christ. Adults will learn from them, too. If your child is less patient and needs less text, get The Big Picture Story Bible. If they can sit and listen to more text, then get The Jesus Storybook Bible.
4. GotQuestions.org. I’ve recommended this website to classes I’ve taught, and at times even have looked on it for answers. I haven’t found much with which I disagree on there, and on the foundational issues, the writers are spot-on. The site claims to have answered more than 300,000 questions. It’s written from a conservative, evangelical perspective. There’s also an iPhone and iPad app. Best of all, it’s free.
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5. Equip.org. “The Bible Answer Man” broadcast, hosted by Hank Hanegraaff and also streamed on the Equip.org website, is a great way to expand your biblical and theological knowledge. He takes calls from people. He’s also written a solid Q&A book, “The Complete Bible Answer Book.” There are lots of Christians who got their introduction to theology through Hanegraaff.
6. Systematic Theology (Wayne Grudem). Sooner or later you’re probably going to have questions about theology that will require more than a website or a radio broadcast. This 1,300 masterpiece of a resource by Grudem is what you need. Don’t let the page count scare you. After all, it is a reference to be explored, not a book to be read in detail. Let’s say you want to explore the Scriptural support for the Trinity. Look it up, get a coffee, and take a seat on the couch. Grudem is a conservative evangelical, and he excels at explaining complex subjects. Simply put, he is an amazing writer. I don’t agree with all of his positions, but his theology volume is the best.
A final piece of advice: Ask your child to repeat the question – just like you’re on a TV quiz show. Then take a deep breath and pray. During those few seconds, God often will give me the words I need.
Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes popcorn. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog for free? Send me a message in the comments section below (the message won’t go public).
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