God has entrusted parents and churches with the blessing and responsibility of raising up infants and children to love and know him.
But this is often easier said than done.
Complicating that, Christians affirm different perspectives on the theology and ministry as it relates to infants and children.
Common questions that come up are:
How are infants and children impacted by sin? How does God treat people who die in their infancy or childhood? When and how are children considered members of the church? And when and how are children instructed in Christian doctrine?
These are the questions that have driven Kevin E. Lawson (professor of Christian Education at Talbot School of Theology) and I in our writings.
Previously, Lawson has approached the topic with a focus on ministry. While I have approached it with a focus on theology.
A New Resource
Our shared vision was to invite scholars from various Christian traditions with pastoral experience to address both theology and ministry concerning infants and children.
What began as a discussion eventually resulted in a conference hosted at a seminary. Finally, it has worked itself out in a new book, Infants and Children in the Church: Five Views on Theology and Ministry.
Each chapter in the book features a contributor’s answer to the four theology and ministry questions listed above. At the end of each chapter, the other contributors respond briefly to each viewpoint. The contributors are:
Jason Foster (PhD, Durham University) is priest of Holy Nativity of our Lord Orthodox Church in Bossier City, Louisiana.
David Liberto (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of historical and dogmatic theology at Notre Dame Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in New Orleans, Louisiana.
David P. Scaer (ThD, Concordia Seminary) is professor of systematic theology and New Testament at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Gregg Strawbridge (PhD, University of Southern Mississippi) is pastor of All Saints Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Adam Harwood (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana.
We believe this book will help you as you wrestle with—or minister to those in your church wrestling with—these practical and theological issues.
Here are what a few others have told us.
Russell Moore told us he hopes “it is the beginning of long reflection of what it means for the church to be child-like in our dependence and child-friendly in our mission.”
Another, Holly Allen, professor of family studies and Christian ministries at Lipscomb University writes:
“I have been looking for a book such as this for two decades—a book that drills deep into the interlinking theological issues of sin and guilt, the status of children before God, and infant baptism (and believers’ baptism)—and how beliefs on such complex issues impact how we receive and welcome children in our faith communities…. We have much to learn from each other’s stories; this text provides an excellent means for beginning that journey.”
The stakes are too high to ignore this topic.
Our prayer is that this resource will aid your ministry to infants, children, parents, and other ministry leaders.
To help you get started, I created a one-page guide summarizing each viewpoint’s answer to the four questions. You can download the free guide here.
Infants and Children in the Church: Five Views on Theology and Ministry is being published by B&H Academic and will be available on November 15th at Amazon.com and other booksellers.
Get started with your free guide here.
This is a guest post by Adam Harwood (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary). Adam serves as associate professor of theology, McFarland Chair of Theology, director of the Baptist Center for Theology & Ministry, and editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Laura, have been blessed with four children. He is an active member of First Baptist New Orleans, a NAMB-endorsed Chaplain in the Louisiana Army National Guard, and he blogs occasionally at adamharwood.com.