Phat fourth-grader Theology

Zach enjoying a smore in our back yard

Zach enjoying a smore in our back yard

 “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15, NIV)

My son, Zach, is in fourth grade.  During the first week of school he brought home an assignment he had completed during school.  It was one of those get-to-know you things.

There were several sentences the teacher started that the kids had to finish however they wanted to.  I’ll bet she laughed a lot when she read them! Here’s some of what Zach had to say. The underlined parts are what he filled in:

  • I am a boy and a nice one. (Pretty accurate so far.)
  • I want to not go to scool. (That’s his spelling. Ironic.)
  • I am afraid of blowing up and no gravity.
  • I understand some friends get into trouble. (He was obviously on the same thought process for the next one.)
  • I say told you so.
  • I dream of being beaten up by a squirrel.
  • I try to stay away from all squirrels.

When we read this, my wife and I laughed so hard our tummies hurt.

Dream girl

(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

How do kids come up with such imaginative ideas?  I have a theory.  It’s because they aren’t limited by the realities of life.  They don’t think about what’s not possible because they’re still trying to figure that out.  What could be for them is limitless because they don’t know what can’t be.  They’ll learn that as they get older.  Too bad.

There’s another aspect of Phat Theology that is equally as important as the first (see last week’s post).  Pseudo-Dionysius calls it Apophatic theology.  Foster & Beebe describe the idea as:

. . .defining who God is by everything he is not.  This, too, is an obscure concept, but it has a profound impact.  It forces us to recognize the limits of human knowledge. (Longing for God, p. 240)

They label it mystical theology because it brings to light the concept that there is more to God than we could even begin to grasp.

Yet, we adults constantly limit our Christian experiences to what we believe is possible.  That leaves God out of the equation.  I’m absolutely certain that’s why God wants us to become like children.  Unless we do, we can’t see the kingdom of heaven because we’re not really looking for it – we’re only searching for what we think God can or will do based on our human experience.  How boring!

God wants us to think like a fourth grader.  He wants us to come to him without reservation, including our willingness to contemplate the unthinkable because we know he can do more that we could ever think or imagine.

We need both Cataphatic (last week’s blog; knowing God through every experience) and Apophatic approaches to God to really live the dream.  For most of us adults, if we would could take a cue from kids and re-learn the latter, the former may come much easier to us.

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6 thoughts on “Phat fourth-grader Theology

  1. This is so true. I never cease to be amazed by the natural (God-given) spirituality of children. Its only as we become adults that we find our mind-set becomes shaped and moulded in more rigid ways. Thank you for this.

    • The spirituality of children . . . interesting concept. Maybe that’s why the odds that someone will accept Jesus are best for the young. It’s a raw spirituality that diminishes as we get older. Thanks, Nigel.

  2. Learn to see the world, your god and life in the eyes of a child. Fill each moment with awe and wonder and imagine the limitless potential of knowledge. God is indeed more than we can dream. And yet he is so simple as he is our father. As a child our dads can do anything. At least I remember thinking this of my father. They are tall, powerful and protective. They are caring, stern, warm and open. God is the perfect father we just have to learn to never see him as a grown up would. See him as a child would and the world is a magical place indeed. ❤ this message! Another masterpiece. /big_hugs

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