Can You Answer a Childs Question?
Children ask deep questions about God! Dr. Craig introduces his series of books for young children called "What Is God Like?". These beautifully-illustrated books explain the attributes of God in a way that even grown-ups can understand!
Can You Answer a Child's Question?
Kevin Harris: There's a new children's author in town. It's not Dr. Seuss, it's Dr. Craig. Dr. Craig, you have released this month a new book for children. Talk about these new books.
Dr. Craig: Well these books are part of a series called What is God like? It's a ten-book series on the attributes of God. And they're designed for very small children, little kids, that you would read a story to, and they're beautifully illustrated. Jan and I have wanted to publish these books for years and years. I wrote them for our own children back when they were small and we were living in Belgium, but just this month now they have finally come to light and been published.
Kevin Harris: The illustrations are just terrific from this young illustrator. And Papa and Mama Bear; you've got Brown Bear and Red Goose. This teaches the attributes of God to kids but, I'll tell you what, adults pick up on some things, too. [laughter]
Dr. Craig: Yeah, it's interesting, Kevin. On the back cover of each book I have a little message to the parents about what this booklet is like. And it can be fairly sophisticated. For example, on the back of the booklet God is Everywhere this is what I say:
This second booklet God is Everywhere is about what theologians call God's omnipresence, God's being all-present. Our story helps us avoid two errors in thinking about God: thinking that God is localized in a place like heaven, and thinking that God is spread throughout space like an invisible gas. (And I got to tell you, Kevin, there are lots of Christian who think that way.) It explains that God is everywhere in the sense that he knows what is happening at any place and is active there. It thereby gives your children assurance that God is with them, no matter where they go.
So there you see a little bit of the depth that this booklet then tries to communicate in a very simple way to children through the use of these characters, Red Goose and Brown Bear and their two children.
Kevin Harris: Yeah, even as kids they can begin to comprehend the biblical revelation of God in the way God has revealed himself, and start to think of him in his awesomeness.
Dr. Craig: That is one of the goals in this ten-booklet series, is to expand children's concept of God to make them have a larger image of God so that their God is a big God. And our president of Reasonable Faith, Chris Shannon, has been using these – the manuscript, not even with the pictures, just the manuscript – that I sent him with his two little girls. And he said these little girls just love these stories about Brown Bear and Red Goose and their children, and their dialogues about what God is like. And he said that every night when they put them to bed they'll read them one of these stories. And one night they decided that they didn't have time for a story and they were just going to put the girls to bed, and he said, “You wouldn't believe the outcry there was at our household.” He said, “They began shouting 'Attributes of God! Attributes of God!'” They wanted to hear the story about the attributes of God. So I'm really hopeful that these booklets will be a big help to parents in teaching their children about God and then also serving as a springboard for conversations with their children about God. Children ask deep questions, and rather than stifle those questions I think we want to encourage them to ask questions, to stimulate their intellectual curiosity. And I think these booklets can really help to do that.
Kevin Harris: Oh, Bill, it is a mistake to think that our kids are not thinking about these things in their quiet moments before they're going to sleep. I've said on a podcast in the past, when Cody, my oldest, was four, he called me into his room, he's laying in bed, he's almost asleep, he said, “Dad, I've been thinking about the fact that God never had a start and he'll never had an end; Dad, that worries me.” And he had the little frown on his face. And I said, “Cody, that's so good.” And it was a teachable moment. But he was sitting there thinking about God's eternity.
Dr. Craig: Yes, and one of the booklets, in fact the third one in the series, is called God is Forever, which is about the eternity of God. So we've got God is Everywhere, which is about omnipresence, and then God is Forever, which is about his eternity. And it goes through the principle attributes of God like omnipotence, necessity and aseity, moral perfection, the love of God, and so forth.
Kevin Harris: The one I'm holding in my hand is God is Spirit.
Dr. Craig: Well there we're talking about what theologians call the incorporeality of God, namely that God doesn't have a body. Many Christians, adults even, think that God exists in a sort of heavenly throne room and that he has a humanoid form and sits on a throne someplace. Where the biblical concept of God is that God is incorporeal, God is spiritual. And so this booklet is intended to help children to think about what it would be like to be a person without a body. And this can also then stimulate discussions about what happens when we die. When our body dies do we cease to exist? Or can we exist without our body, the way God is a person without a body? So I think you see the kind of questions that this first booklet God is Spirit can raise.
Kevin Harris: Oh yeah, this will begin to move them away from what kids typically think of God as a man with a long white beard, and he's walking around in sandals, and he's got lightening bolts, and things like that; the way he's been depicted in medieval art.
Dr. Craig: Yes, this is intended to help children begin to grasp a theologically rich concept of God as an incorporeal, omnipresent, eternal, metaphysically necessary, morally perfect being, and it even ends with a booklet on the Trinity called God is Three Persons where I try to explain the idea of God being tri-personal. And it's all done through the medium of this funny family of Brown Bear and Red Goose and their little gosling Charity and their little cub named Jon. And what you might not realize, Kevin, is that I've actually been drawing these pictures of Brown Bear and Red Goose for forty years for our family. When Jan and I were first married she was an elementary school teacher and one day she said to me, just playfully, “brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” And then she replied, “I see a red goose looking at me.” It was something she had from her primary school primers. And I thought it was so cute that I began to draw her cards on our anniversaries or birthdays or Christmas of us as Brown Bear and Red Goose; she was the Red Goose and I was the Brown Bear. And when we eventually had children it seemed natural to make them a gosling and a cub. And so those are the characters that are featured in this series; this is really, in fact, our family. And I've been doing these pictures, as I say, for over forty years. And what we discovered was this young California artist, Marli, she's only seventeen years old – I think she's now eighteen – but just young, this was her first professional gig, she's just a high school graduate. And her father was a pastor, or is a pastor, and when he heard that we were wanting to do a children's series on the attributes of God, he took the initiative and sent us some of Marli's art. And we really liked it, and so we sent her some of our bear and goose pictures and said, can you imitate these characters, can you draw them? And working with Marli over the months, she has learned to draw these characters in very endearing ways. The expressions are so sweet, the colors are just vivid. Children are going to love these character; and that will make theology fun for them. They will want to learn about Christian theology through Brown Bear and Red Goose.
Kevin Harris: I love the pictures, she does such a good job.
Dr. Craig: Oh, Marli is great.
Kevin Harris: Water color medium. How many books in this series?
Dr. Craig: There will be ten. Two have been released as of this month. We'll release another two during this month, and then probably the Christmas issue. One thing that Marli is doing – this was her own idea – is she is drawing the different booklets according to the different seasons of the year. So some of them are spring, some are of summer, then there are autumn scenes in one of the booklets, and then she's going to have a Christmas booklet where Brown Bear and Red Goose and their children are decorating the tree, and I said, let's get that one out by Christmas time. So probably by Christmas we'll have five of the ten released.
Kevin Harris: These are available from reasonablefaith.org?
Dr. Craig: Not exclusively. We're self-publishing these through Create Space, which is the organ of amazon.com. And so they are available at Amazon though they're very hard to find. You see, the author of these booklets is not William Lane Craig, it's Dr. Craig; that's the way it's listed. So if you google my name you'll find all of my other books, but you won't find these. So the easiest way to get them is to go to the Reasonable Faith website and get them through our webstore where they will all be available. But they are available at amazon.com, as well, as through our own webstore.
Kevin Harris: What this is going to do with parents is to encourage them to learn even more because as their kids ask deeper and deeper questions, it's good to be equipped.
Dr. Craig: Yes, I hope it will, Kevin. If you'll notice at the very back of each booklet you'll see the final two pages are saying, “ready to go deeper?” And it has a page for The Defense Never Rests, which is our children's workbook that Joseph Tang developed, and then also On Guard which is the intro level for adults or young people to learn about the defense of the Christian faith.
Kevin Harris: It's the What is God Like? series. Dr. Craig's What is God Like? And they're available right now. Bill, let's talk a little bit more about The Defense Never Rests; this workbook for budding apologists. You've also found that kids who are pre-teen and adolescent can really grasp the issues of defending and knowing the Christian faith, as well.
Dr. Craig: Yes, The Defense Never Rests, the fill-in-the-blank workbook that Joseph Tang developed, is appropriate for children who are around eight to ten years of age, and older. So the What is God? like series with Brown Bear and Red Goose are for small children, then when they get to be around eight years of age then I think we can introduce them to The Defense Never Rests, and that's a really hands-on project where the child is actually taught a lesson on various apologetic arguments, like evidence for the resurrection and arguments from fine-tuning and the origin of the universe, and the child fills in the blank as the teacher goes through the lesson with him. And so this workbook is, I think, a very nice follow-up to the Brown Bear and Red Goose series. So we really have quite a range of apologetics resources, Kevin. We've got from primary school children with Red Goose and Brown Bear, What is God Like? Then we've got The Defense Never Rests workbook for preteens. Then we've got On Guard which is kind of an intro level book to apologetics; then we've got Reasonable Faith, which is a more intermediate level; then finally The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, which is for academics and scholars. So really from the top to the bottom there's a range of resources now that we've been able to put together through Reasonable Faith.
Kevin Harris: Bill, as a father and having talked with other parents, are there one or two questions kids tend to really gravitate toward at a young age? Obviously “What God is like?” is very fundamental to what they'd ask, and that's why you've done this series.
Dr. Craig: Yes, I think that children very, very frequently ask “Where did God come from?” I was just sharing with a women about this series of booklets and she told me that she teaches special needs children, that is to say mentally-challenged children, and she said even these children ask her questions like “Where did God come from?” or “Who caused God?” Now think of that, Kevin, that's how deep these questions are in the human psyche, that even these mentally-challenged children can think of and be troubled by and reflect on these kinds of question. So it's imperative that we address these sorts of questions when our children raise them.
 Total Running Time: 13:56 (Copyright © 2012 William Lane Craig)