Life Theology

Raising a Biblical Theologian

My work with teenagers has convinced me that one of the main reasons teenagers are not excited by the gospel is that they do not think they need it. Many parents have successfully raised self-righteous little Pharisees. When they look at themselves, they do not see a sinner in desperate need, so they are not grateful for a Savior. (Paul Tripp)

Our daughter is almost five months old. And we are raising her to be a biblical theologian. A “biblical theologian” is a technical term for a person who seeks to take individual parts of the Bible and relate them to the whole. In other words, the discipline of biblical theology is concerned with the overall story of the Bible, or the “metanarrative” for you literary experts. When we do “biblical theology,” we see God’s great story of redemption being played out on each page of Scripture: through Christ, God is redeeming a people for himself who will enjoy never-ending happiness with him in a new world.

Carly and I care deeply that Bailey does not grow up to be a self-righteous Pharisee who keeps rules because “it’s the Christian thing to do.” We desire that she (and our future kids) see Christ as the center–the Hero–of all Scripture. According to the way Jesus read the Bible, the Law of Moses and the Prophets were completed and fulfilled by him (Luke 24:44), so why would we teach her to read the Bible in a moralistic, do-this-and-God-will-smile way? 

If our baby girl grows up thinking that David or Gideon or Moses or Joseph or Ruth are characters to emulate one of two things will happen. She will either be that little Pharisee filled with pride because she’s better than her friends, or she will be a depressed failure who just can’t stack up to the moral standard. Both are dead-ends. Both are void of Christ and the redemption he provides. So we pray that in all Scripture, she sees and embraces Jesus as the one who lived the life she cannot live and died the death she deserves to die.

When Jesus is the point, the centerpiece, the rock, the cornerstone of all Scripture and Christian living, our sin gets exposed, our idols surface, our hearts melt because we see how broken we are, and we even repent of our “good” deeds done in our skewed, personal  view of righteousness. Christian parents often raise their children to believe that they are an empty cup of needs waiting to be filled by God. What we need to proclaim is that they are broken mirrors that are to reflect God’s image and need to be put back together by him alone. This only happens by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

One tool that Carly and I will use in order to raise our children to see and savor Jesus Christ as biblical theologians is The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. It is beautifully written as it expounds Christ as the sum and focus of all the Bible stories Christians have historically moralized. Also, it is wonderfully and artistically illustrated. Obviously, Bailey won’t comprehend much for a few years, but in the meantime, we are building a gospel culture–not a moralistic, religious one–in our home. Adults should digest this book as well. If you have kids, get this book and learn from it, too. If you don’t have kids, buy this book for someone who does, and don’t be ashamed to read it before you put it in a gift bag.