Children and the Theologians

Clearing the Way for Grace

Jerome W. Berryman

Sep/2009, 276 Pages, Hardback, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9780819223470



The long history of children in theology is told via analysis of some twenty-five theologians, grouped according to six historical periods.

Each account examines what a particular theologian thought about children and the experience it was based upon. Four themes that have shaped our attitudes about children in the church emerge from this history: ambivalence, ambiguity, indifference, and grace. The result of this study is to promote a healthier church, which will respect and utilize the distinctive gifts of children. In so doing, theologians will be better able to help clear the way for grace in the postmodern church.

Jerome W. Berryman is the founder of Godly Play and has a wide experience working with children ages 2–18. Priest, writer, lecturer, and workshop leader, Berryman is Senior Fellow of the Center for the Theology of Childhood. He is the author of The Complete Guide to Godly Play, Teaching Godly Play, Children and the Theologians, The Spiritual Guidance of Children, and Stories of God at Home. He lives in Greenwood Village, Colorado.

“Berryman’s choice of voice in this work manifests his familiarity with the sources through the ages but avoids academic turgidity and jargon. Readers will be introduced to figures not familiar to them or, if familiar, unexpectedly dealing with the ‘child’ theme. This is an excellent work. If anything Berryman underplays the scandalous neglect of the theme by most theologians. There are many gems here.”—Martin E. Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago Divinity School

“Jerome Berryman’s Children and the Theologians is an amazingly wonderful book. Clearly, this is his challenge to the faith community to take seriously the theology of childhood. He lays out the agenda and tasks for such a theology in a most compelling way.”—Ward B. Ewing, Dean and President, The General Theological Seminary, New York City

“The real benefit of this sweeping tour of Christian history is Jerome Berryman’s own spontaneous creativity. Over against inherited doctrines of children, often unnoticed but leaving us ambivalent, ambiguous, and indifferent toward children, he declares an alternative: Children as a means of grace. Sacraments – to be more concrete. As powerful to affect salvation as bread and wine. Welcome them, he says, and Christ will enter in.”—Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Counseling, Vanderbilt Divinity School, and author of Let the Children Come: Reimaging Childhood from a Christian Perspective

"This long-awaited and much-anticipated book is the fruit of a lifetime of study. Berryman, a preeminent theologian of childhood, surveys multiple Christian interpretations of children, notes their wisdom and shortcomings, and offers a constructive reinterpretation of children as sacramental means of grace. A welcome book, as it invites children as full participants in the church's sacramental life and as it invites adults to be changed by the children in their midst!"—David H. Jensen, Professor of Constructive Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

"Children, originally sinful, originally saint like, many religious thinkers have provided contradicting insight into our youngest peoples. Children and the Theologians: Clearing the Way for Grace discusses how throughout history, religious thoughts on children have changed radically through the ages, as Jerome W. Berryman breaks each discussion down into periods, dating form the time of Christ to the modern opinion. Children and the Theologians is a fascinating and insightful read that belongs in any Christian studies or historical philosophy collection."—The Midwest Book Review

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