The Future of Child Theology Consultation – Melbourne, 7-11 Nov. 2016

Bill Prevette
sea breaking on shore

Advance notice

A consultation on


Centre for Theology and Ministry, Melbourne, Australia, 7-11 November 2016

Thinking under the banner of Child Theology has been developed since 2002.   Child Theology belongs to the wide span of Christian activity which brings children and theology together.  It shares with many others a concern to see and value children in the full light of the good news of God in Jesus Christ.   It is also specially committed to thinking and talking of God with the child placed by Jesus in the midst.  What that aim implies and how it might be achieved are still open questions which are central to this consultation concerned with the future of Child Theology.

It is intended to be a participatory,

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introducing myself – David Chronic

Bill Prevette asked me to introduce myself on the blog. My name is David Chronic. I’ve lived in Romania since 1996 (in Galati since 1997) and since 1998 served with Word Made Flesh, a community that seeks to serve Jesus among the poor. In Romania we have primarily served among children that were institutionalized, living on the streets, and at-risk of abandonment.

I am currently serving as the regional coordinator for our communities in Romania, the Republic of Moldova, and Sierra Leone. I just recently finished my dissertation for the London School of TheologyMA program in aspects in biblical interpretation. I looked at the relationship between the theology of the poor of St. Basil of Caesarea and his praxis for the poor. Here is an abstract:

Saint Basil

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My hope for CTM and its future

Sky image

“’John is saved, though Mary isn’t, and we are not quite sure about Bill,’ two Christian parents speaking of their own children, all under the age of twelve and who are completely aware of what is being said, and they react accordingly.” Some time ago I read a Christian book about children and came across this affirmation.* Of course, such thinking is familiar to me (meaning that I am aware of what theology and attitude to the faith lies behind it) but nevertheless I was struck by the “reality” of this seemingly ordinary and well accepted Christian consideration of those parents about their most loved ones; it sounded to me like the parents were saying that John (“like us, the

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Steinberg, Naomi. The World of the Child in the Hebrew Bible

CTM Book Review. -Aug 2016

Steinberg, Naomi. The World of the Child in the Hebrew Bible. Hebrew Bible Monographs 51. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013.

In its focus, its treatment of the material and its style of presentation, Naomi Steinberg’s study, is to my mind a quality addition to the literature that can stimulate and inform the development of biblically grounded child theology.

Her treatment of child and childhood issues within the context of Hebrew or OT scriptures is particularly welcomed as there is not much, focused and serious study, available in this area.

Whilst its purpose is firmly fixed upon the exploration and elucidation of childhood as revealed in OT Scripture, the societal perceptions that it uncovers also add to our understanding of the socio-religious background to Jesus’ teaching and engagement with children

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Displacing Jesus


The danger of displacing Jesus

There is always a danger in Child Theology, and indeed in any Christian engagement with children, that the child takes the centre and outweighs even Jesus in importance. (Keith White and I discuss this further in chapter 1 of the book, Entry Point: Towards Child Theology with Matthew 18.)

What is the ‘rightful place’ of Jesus? The question besets us wherever we turn. Do the answers that Christians give stand up? Do we say one thing and live another?

It is not only the child in the midst who exposes the underlying issue.
In clearing out old papers, I came across this note from Will Herberg, quoted in Robert L Ferm, Issues in American Protestantism, (1983), p. 351:

The very same people who, four out of five, say they

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Why do I do child theology?


By Nicolás Panotto

I have been doing child theology for several years. Much of this stems from my work with religious organizations and theological programmes in holistic child development, as well as from my church work and partnership in projects with children in vulnerable situations.

But the main reason I am involved in this process is because of my brother Juan Marcos who is two years younger than me. He is disabled due to an accident three weeks after his birth. His life is indeed a gift from God. It is a constant fight for survival at every stage of his life: his weak body facing daily demands and adversities.

As a family we have experienced a singular process. We value the richness of life in the smallest details. A timid

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Nathaniel Darling shares his thoughts following a week spent working with the Child Theology Movement

Thanks to Nathaniel Darling for sharing this post with us – first published on

10 AUGUST 2016

The week before last saw a consultation on the future of the Child Theology Movement take place at High Leigh conference centre, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. This is a movement Haddon Willmer has been closely involved with from its beginnings in the late 1990s, and I was fortunate to be able to participate in last week’s consultation as a note-taker and administrator.

CTM (3) (300x95)Child Theology is a young term, with no clearly defined subject matter, so a wide range of topics were discussed: the role of human rights’

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What childhood stories helped you live?


I have always had a keen interest in children’s literature, first as an avid child reader, later as a parent and a teacher. I looked for stories that rang true, stories that made me laugh, cry, think and grow, stories that in some small way helped me live my life: C.S. Lewis books of Narnia were among my favourites. Later, I have tried to pass these books along to children in my care and within my circle of acquaintance, in the hope that others will also find something they need in them.

No one read me Bible stories as a child, even if I became familiar with many of them by way of retelling and referencing in books and in school work. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I had

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Saying the Lord’s Prayer from a different perspective – from Haddon Willmer

As we concluded our time together at High Leigh, Haddon Willmer offered this reading of the Lord’s Prayer from a ‘different perspective’.

Deliver us from the evil – of ever giving up praying this prayer

  • whatever the pressure of temptation.

Deliver us from losing the ‘our’ to make the Father ‘mine’.

Deliver us from claiming the Kingdom now rather than steadily praying for it to Come.

Deliver us from seeking the Father in heaven as though he has abandoned the earth

  • where there is stomach hunger for missing daily bread
  •  where there is sinning up to seventy times seven

Deliver us from escaping the Father’s house  to seek our misfortune in the far country

Rather let us ever and again find our way back to our Father’s  welcome feast with all the household

So let his name, Father, be credible,

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Karl Barth and Eduard Thurneysen – Child Theologians? By Haddon Willmer


Karl Barth and Eduard Thurneysen’s God’s Search for Man (English translation, 1935) is a collection of sermons. The two men were very close and it is fair to assume they went along with each other’s sermons, especially those which were published together. This collection  includes one, by Thurneysen,  called ‘The New Beginning’, on the text of Matthew 18.1-9. It is a piece of child theology.

The sermon begins:

Jesus places children before us.  He uses them as a parable in order to say something decisive to us. Children are people who still stand at the beginning of life…..For them… everything is filled with possibility and promise; life is an open book filled with unwritten pages….

For us (grown-ups) it is too late for almost everything.  We do not have an undeveloped life before

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