Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Theological Education: Equipping the People of God
“Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise” (v. 7)
“Theology” is a much maligned term. It is often (mis)understood as the intellectual exercise of professional “theologians”. And, for that reason, many preachers begintheir sermons with the introduction: “I will not preach any theology; only the Word of God”. Theology, on the contrary, is merely our understanding of God’s plan for human salvation. And, consequently, even a first grade student would have a “theology”: that is, her understanding of God. Today’s passage tells us of theology on the domestic front – at home. Let us consider two points that emerge from it.
In most Eastern societies, including the places during the Biblical period and even in India, history and faith were often preserved as oral traditions. Owing to lack of facilities – and adverse climatic conditions – our societies could not preserve documents for long periods of time. And, consequently, oral accounts became a major tool for preserving history, and transmitting faith down the generations and centuries. We communicated with our songs, stories and folklore (In the Asian context, C. S. Song reminds us of the tradition of “Story theology”). Even in places where a few scrolls of the scriptures were available, the ordinary folk depended largely on oral traditions. In the Biblical account of the Passover tradition, Moses instructs the Israelites: “And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord’ (Exodus 12: 26-27). The medium of instruction here is clearly oral.
Today’s passage also contains instructions that can easily be communicated orally.Even in our current period, when we have a plethora of communication devices at our disposal, we have the duty – and the privilege – of orally transmitting our faith and traditionsto the coming generation.
Amazing things happen when generations come together at home, often aroundthe dining table. Communication there (unlike from the pulpit!) is not a one way process but mutual.Children can not only be great learners but also great teachers. Contrary to the Victorian norm, “children should be seen, and not heard”, Jesus took children seriously and believed that God’s transformative power can come “out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies” (Matt 21:16). God works across all generations. As the prophet reminds us, “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams” (Joel 2:28). Theological education – keeping God’s words (v. 6) - should be a mutual process.
Prayer: Even as we communicate your ways to our children, help usO God, to listen to them as they speak your words to us.
Thought for the day: Do we talk to children or talk down to them?
Dr. Jesudas Athyal, Carmel MTC, Boston