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Child Theologies: Introduction, Child Theology Movement, Diverse Approaches Marcia J. Bunge, Ph.D. Professor of Theology and Humanities Christ College,

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Presentation on theme: "Child Theologies: Introduction, Child Theology Movement, Diverse Approaches Marcia J. Bunge, Ph.D. Professor of Theology and Humanities Christ College,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Child Theologies: Introduction, Child Theology Movement, Diverse Approaches Marcia J. Bunge, Ph.D. Professor of Theology and Humanities Christ College, Valparaiso University Director of the Child in Religion and Ethics Project Australia, July 2012

2 “Child theologies”: rethink fundamental doctrines and practices of the Church as a whole, using the “lens” of the child.

3 “Theologies of childhood”: provide sophisticated theological understandings of children and our obligations to them.

4 Strong Theologies of Childhood Acknowledge and hold in tension children’s: Full humanity as well as their need for guidance. Spiritual wisdom as well as growing moral capacities. Strengths and gifts as well as their vulnerabilities and needs. Develop rich understandings of parenting, child- adult relationships, and community life.

5 Strong Theologies of Childhood Combat simplistic and destructive conceptions of children Strengthen commitment to children in Christian communities in many areas: –Spiritual formation –Religious education –Children’s ministries –Child advocacy –Faith-based organizations –Public Policy

6 “Child theologies”: rethink fundamental doctrines and practices of the Church as a whole, using the “lens” of the child.

7 PART I. INTRODUCTION Primary Task of Child Theologies: Rethink Christian theology and practice as a whole in the light of children and childhood

8 Distinct from but related to: Theologies of Childhood Children’s Theologies (by children) Children’s Spirituality Theologies for Children Religious Education Children’s Ministries

9 1)The Bible 2)“The Tradition” (history of Christian thought and practice) 3)Academic disciplines outside theology 4)“Experience” of individuals and communities (including but not limited to children) Like other forms of theology, Child Theologies Build on Various Sources, including:

10 Unlike other forms of theology: child theologies use the “LENS” OF THE “CHILD” as category of analysis

11 PART II: CHILD THEOLOGY MOVEMENT

12 The Child Theology Movement Began 10 years ago Matthew 18:1-5: Jesus puts a little child “in the midst” of a theological argument about greatness in the Kingdom Form international networks of both theologians and practitioners Host international and regional consultations Participants represent various countries, denominations, approaches

13 Child Theology Movement: One Particular Approach 1)Discuss their understandings of a specific Church doctrine or practice. 2)Imagine a child in a particular situation experienced by many children, reflecting together on that child. 3)Reflect together on how putting that particular child “in the midst” of their reflection might or might not help them rethink that specific doctrine or practice.

14 Consultation in South Africa: Example of Reflection on Sin 1)Reflected on their own understandings of sin and theological and biblical grounds for it. 2)Considered the situation of child soldiers and sexually exploited girls in Africa (shared insights). 3)Invited to rethink: How do their views of sin speak to the situation of such children, and how might the situation of such children inform their views of sin.

15 Consultation in South Africa: Example of Reflection on Sin Participants had to rethink their views of sin and to consider several issues, such as: violence against children children’s own agency free will innocence embodiment sexuality

16 Questions for Discussion 1.What questions do you have regarding the notion of “child theologies” in general? 2.What questions do you have about the Child Theology Movement in particular? 3.What are the most pressing challenges facing children in your context?

17 PART III: DIVERSE APPROACHES TO CHILD THEOLOGIES

18 Diverse Approaches to Child Theologies Child theologies are bound to be diverse! All will critically retrieve insights from common sources: -The Bible -The Tradition -Insights from Childhood Studies and other Disciplines -Experience Yet they will also be formulated by particular theologians and within distinctive: -Religious traditions -Cultural contexts -Faith communities

19 Examples of Contemporary Efforts Jürgen Moltmann: Hope Dawn DeVries: Salvation D.R.K. Nkurunziza: Human Dignity David Jensen: Image of God My own work: Vocation Current project on “Child Theologies: Perspectives from World Christianity”

20 Examples of Contemporary Efforts Jürgen Moltmann: Hope Dawn DeVries: Salvation D.R.K. Nkurunziza: Human Dignity David Jensen: Image of God My own work: Vocation Current project on “Child Theologies: Perspectives from World Christianity”

21 Experimenting Further with Child Theology Writing Exercise #2: What is one insight or idea from the Bible, theological traditions, the social sciences or other disciplines, or from your own experience or experience of children in your midst that would inform and be a resource for your own child theology? Writing Exercise #3: How might the biblical, theological, or contemporary insight into children and childhood that you chose for question #2 help you to reexamine or to rethink the belief, doctrine, or practice that you chose for question #1?


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