Under the title ‘God, Life and the World around us’, I create my own theology and biblical studies lesson plans. From time to time, however, I’ll go looking for some “plug-and-play” material that’ll sharpen our deep study of the Bible and its relevance.
Natasha Crain’s, ‘Talking with Your Kids about God’ met this criterion and then some. The book pads theology and biblical studies subjects by furthering an understanding of the Bible’s relevance to S.T.E.M and H.S.I.E. (Human Society and its Environment).
Crain’s book is a recount and exposition of her own unexpected engagement with the world of skeptics and atheists. Her research is compiled into thirty questions. Each question makes up a chapter, and each chapter presents the skeptics question juxtaposed next to answers from Atheists and Christians.
One of the key benefits about the layout of Natasha’s book is that it saves time. The layout and contents means no time is lost scrolling, filtering and processing the contents of forums dedicated to the dogma of atheism and the echo chambers of skeptics. Crain has done the ground work already.
Despite the absence of an index, the painstakingly thorough academic approach Crain takes with this book, particularly with referencing and citations, makes it one of the smartest, and well-presented resources, in the apologetics category that I’ve come across.
In a bold, conversational tone, Crain confronts difficult questions and “gotcha” accusations that are often raised against God, Christians and the Bible. These range from simple passive aggressive anti-Christian statements often seen on memes, the mockery of The Church of the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM)’ and the more complex theory of Evolution.
Each chapter addresses the false dichotomy between faith and science.
Crain achieves this by sectioning the book up into five parts in order of importance:
Part 1: The Existence of God.
Part 2: Science & God.
Part 3: The Nature of God.
Part 4: Believing in God
Part 5: The Difference God Makes.
Following the theme of each section, each chapter ends with its own set of unique summary points and conversation guides, which open the chapter up for discussion and application.
Although Crain encourages just using the summary points, and the conversation guide to spark conversations about the topics raised, the book works best when the entire chapter is first read out loud.
I tried to follow the suggested teaching format, but found that noting key points and quotations on the whiteboard, as we went along, worked best. I then had these points and quotations copied down in our Homeschoolers HSIE workbooks. The result was that our discussion began long before beginning the conversation guide. My kids also found this to be the most helpful approach.
The only problem I wrestled with when teaching ‘Talking with Your Kids about God’ was natural theology. After the first and second chapter, I nearly ditched the book, because like any good student of Karl Barth, any hint of desperate reliance on natural theology, as proof of the existence of God, is verboten; a straight-up Nein[!].
Such reliance is built on religion (humanity’s quest to reach or be God – Man’s ‘Towers of Babel’), not faith (humanity’s response to the Word God has already spoken, in both Covenant and in Jesus Christ).
This said. I’m glad I stuck with it. My initial caution was corrected. With Crain, I’d hoped to pad my own homeschool theology lessons, as part of S.T.E.M and H.S.I.E, with age appropriate material. Now that we’ve completed the book, I’m impressed with the format, and how Crain handles the heavy topics therein. Her work is balanced, informative and engaging. In fact, I’m that impressed, I picked up her first book, to teach from in a similar way.
Karl Barth once said that we ought to, “read the bible in one hand, with the newspaper in the other.”
The idea of studying the Bible and the news alongside each other pertains to the continuing relevance of the Bible, and the need to see man’s world, and word, in contrast to God’s revealed Word, and the world He so lovingly saved through it.
Crains’ book is an essential resource for mums and dads who want to help their children to cherish the free pursuit of knowledge, and its close relationship to the free pursuit of God.
Crain, N. 2017 Talking with Your Kids about God, Baker Books Publishing
[Disclaimer: I received no remuneration for this review of any kind].
©Rod Lampard, 2019