Child Theology

In these past months, the IBTS morning prayer services have welcomed a king, a dancing ballerina and various pieces of farm equipment and motor vehicles. These came on the backs of and in the hands of three children (under 5 yrs) who have become a valued part of the IBTS community.

They bring their parents along to morning community coffee break and remind all of us that there are many adventures to be had all around the seminary campus, if we take time to enjoy them.

Having returned from a Child Theology seminar which took place in London in early March, I’ve begun to observe more keenly the children amongst us and I wonder if we are putting them in our midst or simply ‘putting up’ with them in our midst.

The seminar in which I participated was hosted by the Child Theology Movement which has taken up the task of doing theology whilst keeping a child in the midst. It’s an intriguing thought, not to learn and do theology in order to teach children, but to learn and do theology with children in order to teach us.  The seminar was directed primarily by Keith White and Haddon Willmer who are completing the final chapter of a book on doing theology whilst working through Matthew 18’s account of Jesus putting a child in the centre of the debating disciples and instructing them to learn from him/her.

At this daylong seminar Toddling to the Kingdom: Child theology at work in the church (CTM, 2009) was launched as the most recent book in the area of Child Theology. This work is a compilation of key presentations given over the past six years at consultations hosted by the Child Theology Movement, from which smaller reports were produced. Toddling to the Kingdom is the first larger work which addresses central themes, questions and approaches to Child Theology which emerged out of these consultations and evoked further research, thus producing this book.

In light of these recent discussions and movements, IBTS hopes to be more engaged in this relatively new and commonly neglected conversation of Child Theology through further interest in seminars and research. And whilst embarking on this journey, may the kings with paper crowns still have a royal welcome and the ballerina dancer twirl to the music of Graham Kendrick and the Taize community, as together we reflect on our theology with the little ones.

– Vanessa

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