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Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God

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Equips parents to guide their young children through all major doctrines in an understandable, chapter-a-day format. Sure, it's easy to teach your children the essentials of Christian theology when you're a theology professor. But what about the rest of us? With Big Truths for Young Hearts , Bruce Ware, (you guessed it!) a theology professor, encourages and enables parents of children 6-14 years of age to teach through the whole of systematic theology at a level their children can understand. Parents can teach their children the great truths of the faith and shape their worldviews early, based on these truths. The book covers ten topics of systematic theology, devoting several brief chapters to each subject, making it possible for parents to read one chapter per day with their children. With this non-intimidating format, parents will be emboldened to be their children's primary faith trainers-and perhaps learn a few things themselves along the way.

240 pages, Paperback

First published April 30, 2009

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About the author

Bruce A. Ware

31 books47 followers
Bruce A. Ware (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, and has authored God's Lesser Glory, God's Greater Glory, and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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76 (14%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews
Profile Image for Lynsey.
32 reviews7 followers
March 31, 2020
This was so good! And not just for “young hearts”. It went through basic, essential theology and explained it in a clear way. This is good for anyone. New believers would benefit as well as those who have been a believer for some time. Bruce Ware does a fantastic job explaining (sometimes hard to understand) theological topics.
Profile Image for Melissa.
Author 21 books849 followers
April 23, 2022
This is a hard one to rate, likely a 3.5 but I can't decide whether to round up or down. The material covered itself was good and really helpful to cover all the bases with the kids that you might not think to cover on the fly or topics that would naturally come up, it's like a simple systematic theology for kids. But it is soooooo repetitive. It got worse as the book went on. Partly, I think it was intended to be that way because you're reading to little kids and saying it more than one way might make it sink in. But at the same time it was so tiring to "beat a dead horse" on a occasion. In the last chapter tonight I got so exasperated with the repetitiveness that I simply skipped over a paragraph that promised to say everything all over again. About half way through I was ready to be on to the next book, but made myself finish, I think I did the same the year I read it to my oldest. I just wanted to be done, it felt like it lasted forever. And sometimes, for all it's repetitiveness, it was unclear--somehow that was possible. It could have been better edited. So on one hand, I'm glad to have read it to all my children, but it was quite the slog after a while. It was not our favorite Bible read, but I liked the thought behind it.
Profile Image for Blabby Gabi.
38 reviews3 followers
January 15, 2018
I read this for Bible:)
it’s an introduction to biblical theology, and it’s a surprisingly understandable read:) only four stars tho because he’s a little dry 😂😂😂 bahaha
Profile Image for Ben K.
114 reviews3 followers
July 25, 2020
Bruce Ware has written an excellent introduction to theology for a younger audience. The title threw me off a bit. I expected it to be aimed at younger children. But as I read it through with my family, it was our kids aged 10-15 that benefitted the most. I think the content would even be fitting for adults who need some basic instruction in theology. It is not written in a childish way, but it is accessible enough that children can understand it.

This book covers all the major topics you would find in a systematic theology, but without most of the technical terminology. It sparked many good questions and conversations with my kids. Each chapter ends with two discussion questions and a memory verse, both of which were helpful as my family engaged with the content.
Profile Image for Chris Ong.
20 reviews1 follower
January 25, 2010
This is the best devotional book I have found to date for my kids. Its amazing how it goes through a whole curriculum of systematic theology pitched for kids. I'm really enjoying doing it daily with my kids. This is not watered down stuff, and while we are going fairly fast, I'm hoping that some of it will stick. It has a memory verse everyday and it very carefully lays the foundation for the christian faith answering all the questions a person (whatever age) might have when they are trying to make sense of the bible and their theology. I can't recommend this book enough to parents with 'older' kids.
November 15, 2018
The author does magnificent job of introducing key biblical truths in a fatherly, pastoral way. The book reminded me that we really don't understand something until we are able to teach it to children. I am looking forward to integrating this book into our student ministry.
Profile Image for Danielle Jensen.
18 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2022
I loved this book! It explains the systematic truths of Scripture in a way that was so accessible in both time and content. Each chapter is only 2 to 3 pages long. But Ware packs these chapters and the way he did it, it felt more like reading a story than a textbook. It is a gem for parents looking for something to help them walk their kids through a systematic understanding of the Christian faith in an age appropriate, but not a dumbed down way.

Only critique is that there is no Scripture index at the back and this book. It is so full of Scripture references that an index would have a great resource.
Profile Image for Jodi.
1,145 reviews6 followers
February 17, 2022
This was written for preteens and teens, but its value for adults cannot be overstated. It is so, so good at presenting an understandable, accessible foundation of biblical theology! Admittedly, there is a lot of repetition in the lessons, and many of the discussion questions asked the same thing twice with different wording, which grew a bit tiresome. That's my caveat; and where, in my opinion, it could have been improved. It's one thing to do a quick review at the start of a lesson; another thing entirely to be frequently redundant. It's as if the author could not trust his audience to remember things. Because of the excellent content, I still rate this with five stars even though the presention wanted refining.

I really enjoyed studying the individual characteristics and roles of the Persons of the Trinity, and I liked the way the author worded the breakdown of our sin: our inherited sin nature, our responsibility for our own sin, the weight of our sin requiring a weighty punishment, the glory of Christ in paying a weighty price to save us from that weighty punishment of weighty sin. The way the author explained all this gave me a deeper understanding of it.

There is always something more to learn about our God and His plan of salvation for a fallen people. Just reminds me that we need to be in the Word more and more and we need it and the Lord every minute of every day our whole lives through.

This book/knowledge/understanding is much-needed for every believer, new and seasoned and in-between; for every person everywhere: nonbelievers, those who consider themselves Christians but do not live in obedience to Christ; for kids and preteens and teens and young adults and the middle-aged and elderly.
And especially for those of us who think they already know all this. 😉
Profile Image for Faith M:).
135 reviews40 followers
July 28, 2018
I read this for school, which is why it took me so long to read.

It was very good!!! Every devotional/chapter in the book had a similar format. It was a little dry, but this is a book that I would 100% recommend:) Give this a try!!! The theology is great!
Profile Image for John Brackbill.
263 reviews
December 6, 2017
I read this through with my 10 year old son. Very helpful. Each chapter is only a few pages making it possible to read one chapter each sitting. It is clear and Biblical. His theological position seems to be Calvinistic though he defends limited/unlimited atonement. In the area of spiritual gift he acknowledges differences among believers. He doesn't get specific in this area though I wish he had. He also seems to be of the historical premillennialism persuasion. Though in this area he also doesn't get so specific that I felt like I had to discuss from a pre-trib viewpoint This is a great resource to read through with your children. I plan to encourage my son to read through it again on his own in the future as we did read it a little early for his age.
Profile Image for Ash_Claunch.
27 reviews2 followers
January 13, 2015
I greatly enjoyed the systematic theology in this book, not only for my children's sake, but mine as well. I learned some church history, which is a weak area in my knowledge of the faith. Truths about God were solidified in my heart and mind. I will definitely be reading this book again. My children will also be reading it when they reach this reading level. In the mean time I will be relaying much of this as I teach them. Many adults would benefit greatly from this book! Very enjoyable read. I also greatly appreciate Dr. Ware, the author of this book, and his heart for the Lord and for His glory.
Profile Image for Nate Bate.
271 reviews3 followers
January 12, 2023
A basic Bible doctrines book aimed for children 9 and up and adults. Excellent basic overview, but I have a hard time thinking it is for children as young as 9. I suppose with a parent reading it to them and stopping to discuss it that it could be for children as young as 9. I think it is more geared to high school on up.

It contains very short, concisely worded chapters on the main doctrines of Scripture with some reflection questions at the end of the chapter. There is a slight calvinistic bent that comes out occasionally. After reading this, I decided it would be a good book to give to my 13 and 14 year olds, but I think most adult church goers would benefit from this as well.

Although it was a very quick read for me, I enjoyed some of Bruce Ware's illustrations and his wording as fresh ways to think about these Bible doctrines.
Profile Image for Tessa.
95 reviews
January 26, 2023
5 star read! Ware explores topics in an easy to understand way for believers. The purpose of the book is to help parents share the love of God by raising them to know and love theology. As parents or any believer how can we disciple without knowing basic theology? I appreciated the simple writing style and thought-provoking questions I can use now with my family.
The areas explored are:
1.God's Word and God's Own Life as God
2.God As Three in One
3. Creator and Ruler of All
4. Our Human Nature and Our Sin
5. Who Jesus Is
6. The Work that Jesus has Done
7. The Holy Spirit
8. Our Salvation
9. The Church of Jesus Christ
10. What will take place in the End
2 reviews
January 28, 2019
Too introduction

This book is a good introduction to the Christian faith. It is not best for children, but would be good for an adult who wants to learn more about what conservative Evangelical Christians believe.
32 reviews
July 10, 2019
Simple and clear systematic theology. Well laid out and broken up to answer the key questions. I particularly found his illustrations to be really helpful, especially for teaching these truths to 'younger' believers.
Profile Image for John Muriango.
151 reviews11 followers
September 17, 2019
Very easy to understand systematic Theology book. Can't believe it's targeted for kids! Everyone should read it, no matter their age.
1 review
March 24, 2020
I loved using this book to tackle tough topics or find ideas to challenge my kids faith.
Profile Image for Kaylee.
174 reviews3 followers
January 6, 2023
I really appreciated the approach of this book but some of the concepts would be harder for little children to grasp. I would recommend it for middle and high schoolers, possibly older elementary.
Profile Image for Greg.
67 reviews5 followers
January 19, 2012

In Big Truths for Young Hearts, Dr. Bruce Ware talks about the basics of the faith for young people. I hesitate to say children, because I think of children as 10 years of age and younger.

This book originated at the request of Dr. Ware’s daughters. They were so grateful for the lessons that he taught them at their bedside each night before going to bed, they asked him to put those lessons into a book, and “Big Truths for Young Hearts” was the result. I have just completed the 60 devotions with my children now 15 and 11, and I can see how they have changed positively as a result of understanding fully the greatness and glory of God, and his love and grace towards us, His creation. My eldest daughter has now decided that she is going to go through the book again in her devotional time to understand more fully the Biblical concepts contained.

This book is actually a seminary course, re-written in a way that it is simple and understandable for children 9 years and up (however I would suggest that your youngest is at least 10), which means that adults will understand it just fine. The topics that Dr. Ware covers are God's Word, the Trinity, God as Creator, Human Nature and Sin, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, and the church. He covers all the bases. All the subtopics are important ones that young adults need to understand. The short essays address the questions well and thoroughly. I would suggest reading them aloud as a family, maybe at a pace of one a week, I would read ahead and consider where you wish to pause and discuss. I would also read while encouraging your children to stop you when they don't understand so that you might pause and address their questions.

This book would also be a good reference for you as a parent if your children ask questions that you aren't sure how to answer or can't remember the biblical references for (as often happens to me). You could also use it to guide your family worship and ground your children in sound doctrine. It is important for them to know what they believe and understand God's Word.

I have been pondering the question of how much we should teach our children and want them to learn and understand. How much can they understand? Sometimes we expect too little of them, but we can also expect too much. This is a book that will help you answer a lot of tough questions kids can face about God as they grow up and want to understand. What we and our children believe about God, the Bible, and who God is will help us all when our hearts fail us. Doctrine--what we believe about God--matters. This is a book about doctrine. It isn't a Bible story book. It may be a book that you will pick up with your sixth grader and realize that it is not connecting with them. So, you set it down for a year or two and come back to it when they are older and more mature--emotionally and intellectually. I find that is the case with many good and helpful books. It is also a book that may help you understand how to explain the basics of the Christian faith to someone who doesn't believe in God when they have questions. I find that often books written for children are very helpful.

This is a book with much potential, whose purpose depends on the person in whose hands it is. I know many families for whom I think this book would be a great fit for family worship times and devotionals.
This book is in stock in the Resource Centre, or from our online bookstore at: http://catalyst.ourchurchbookstore.co...
Profile Image for Heather.
Author 1 book14 followers
November 12, 2012
It isn’t easy to teach young children about the depth and scope of Christian faith. Too often they fall in love with the stories and blindly play follow the leader with their parent’s faith. They understand only enough to be dangerous, or easily fooled. Then adulthood arrives and questions surface. Finding understanding of their own can be very challenging. I believe that’s why there is a notable lack of young adult’s from our congregations,leaving a gaping hole in our churches. If true, biblical, understanding could be achieved and experienced first hand in childhood I think our churches would be fuller and more dynamic. Our world could be better evangelized if we took the time to equip our children with knowledge when they are young.

Big Truths for Young Hearts doesn’t talk baby talk or diminish a child’s ability to understand weighty biblical concepts. Yet, it isn’t too heavy for them to grasp. I think what makes this book work so well is that it is written in brief chapters that respect the attention spans of children. Each chapter also contains questions for review and discussion.

Concepts like the revelation of God, the Trinity, Creation, the ramifications of sin, the nature of Jesus, and the path to Salvation (etc.) might seem tricky to explain to a child. Maybe that’s why we simplify for their young hearts and turn theology into entertainment.
Reading this book really showed me that God is exciting enough for kids to want to understand. He doesn’t need my crazy or flashy attempts at making Him better understood. God’s word was written with all age levels and people in mind and it draws men, women and children alike to the undeniable truth of God.

Big Truths for Young Hearts is written for children 6-14. We followed the recommended instructions and read a chapter each night before bed. I was surprised when my 4-year-old joined in to answer review questions right along with the others.

The author of Big Truths for Young Hearts, Bruce A. Ware, has credentials that point to his education and biblical knowledge. He is the professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s authored other books as well. However, most impressive of his credentials is what his children write in the foreword. When children can acknowledge their parents as Godly leaders and Christian examples that shaped them into lifelong followers, I think that’s enough to impress me.

I appreciated the honesty of his daughters when they wrote:
” . . .we’re so glad that you’re learning truths about God! It doesn’t always seem fun to have to sit and listen to your parents. But this subject is actually more exciting than anything else you could think of. . .”

It’s not easy for them or for us. Committing to scheduled family devotions can always create challenges when we have antsy little ones who might prefer to do something else. However, the value is eternal with eternal rewards.

To parents they wrote:
” . . .it may sound cliché, but we followed our father’s teaching in part because he practiced what he preached. ”

My opinion:
1.Pick up a copy of Big Truths for Young Hearts.
2. Make a routine of reading a chapter each night with your children.
3. Did they listen to you as you read? If so, you might think that the biggest challenge is over. Think again.
4. The hardest part: Follow the author’s awesome example and Live what you teach. Apply what you’re teaching them to your own life. Be the example for them to follow.
Happy Reading!
Profile Image for Stephen Escalera.
66 reviews5 followers
December 21, 2010
They say the true test of understanding a subject is being able to teach it to others. I've discovered through parenting that being able to teach a subject to children is an even greater test. You have to strip concepts down to bare basics in order to build further understanding on top of this foundation. For many topics this is a challenge, perhaps none more important and challenging than theology. We want to instill a knowledge, love and understanding for the things of God in our children, but quite honestly often stumble and search for the right words to teach them.

In Big Truths for Young Hearts, Bruce A. Ware does a phenomenal job of presenting these truths of Scripture in a manner that is understandable to children. The book, targeted to children ages 9 and up, covers the following topics:

-God's Word and God's Own Life as God
-God as Three in One
-Creator and Ruler of All
-Our Human Nature and Our Sin
-Who Jesus Is
-The Work that Jesus Has Done
-The Holy Spirit
-Our Great Salvation
-The Church of Jesus Christ
-What Will Take Place in the End

Each topic is covered in six, bite-size chapters, with a couple of discussion questions and a relevant memory verse at the end of each chapter. While Ware writes from a more Reformed theological perspective, much of what he presents is very basic doctrine and does not go into doctrines such as election, predestination, or various interpretations of eschatology. Because of this, he is able to focus more on the fundamentals of the Christian faith without getting bogged down in what, for the target age group, could be very confusing nuances.

I appreciated the respect that he shows to his young readers and their parents by not watering down each topic with the overuse of illustrations. Too many children's books oversimplify the truths of Scripture to make the book more appealing. Ware goes straight to the Scriptures in patiently discussing and explaining harder-to-grasp truths. I will say that this book is probably not one that an average 9-year old could sit down to read alone and understand completely. I would recommend, as Ware does in his introduction, that parents and children read it together, allowing time for "discussing these rich truths." (p.14) It is also good for discussion in group settings such as in a Sunday School class. Our church uses this book for a Wednesday evening children's class and both teachers have commented to me that the book is an excellent resource.

Big Truths for Young Hearts is an excellent book for teaching the fundamentals of faith not only to children, but for any person seeking to get a better grasp of Biblical doctrine. I would highly recommend this book without reservation.

(Many thanks to Crossway for providing a review copy of this book.)
Profile Image for John Gardner.
207 reviews18 followers
February 22, 2010
This is a book that I read very quickly, but an now going through very slowly and meticulously. I was intrigued to hear about a book that Bruce Ware, professor of systematic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was publishing at the end of 2009: A systematic theology written to be taught to and read by children!

In the book’s introduction, Ware explains that as his daughters grew up, he began to realize that what he had been teaching them each night at their bedsides was the same material he had been teaching to his seminary students for decades! This led to the idea of writing a book that would progress systematically through the essential doctrines of Christianity on a level that is accessible and understandable for children, without compromising on the rich truths expressed in Scripture.

I have to say, he has done a great job with this! Far too often we underestimate the ability of children to grasp the deep things of God. How tragic! They understand far more than we think, and in many cases, probably more than we do. After all, Jesus didn’t tell children to have faith like adults! There is a deep need for our children to be brought up immersed in the Word, and this book will be a great resource for parents seeking to raise their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). I am personally thankful to have this tool as I pursue my aim of becoming a Proverbs 4 dad !

Though this book says it is written for ages 9 and up, it is by no means childish. To be perfectly honest, most adults could stand to learn much from this book! We live in an age where an intellectual pursuit of theology is not much emphasized in evangelical culture, and it is probably safe to assume that the vast majority of Christians have never devoted themselves to a serious and systematic study of theology. If a 1200+ page seminary text seems intimidating, this quite manageable 230-page paperback could be the ideal starting point for many! Buy it here .
82 reviews3 followers
April 3, 2010
Bruce Ware is a teacher of theology in the seminary and in his home. At bedtime Ware would take what he was teaching his seminarians and break it down into bites small enough for his children. In Big Truths for Young Hearts Ware provides a rich resource for children and their parents to learn the great truths of the Christian faith.

The book contains several excellent illustrations of complex truths. For instance, on the issue of how Jesus could experience temptation even though his divine holiness meant he could never sin, Ware suggests that we need to answer two different questions with two different answers. The two questions are: 1) why it is that something could not happen, and 2) why it is that something did not happen?

Then comes his illustration of the distinction he has made. A swimmer trains to break a world record and swim over 70 miles continuously. He is accompanied by a boat in case his muscles cramp and he drown. However, he accomplishes the feat without any assistance from the boat.

Why is it that the swimmer could not have drowned? Because the boat was always there to pick him up if needed. Why is it that the swimmer did not drown? Because he kept swimming!

In relation to Christ, then, the reason he couldn’t sin is that he was fully God (he possessed the divine nature). The reason he didn’t sin is that “as a man, empowered with the Spirit and filled with God’s word, he used everything that was given him by the Father to remain obedient” (p.119). In this way we can maintain that Christ could never have sinned, and yet he understands better than we do the power of temptation.

Other truths that Ware did an especially good job of explaining are
• How Jesus emptied himself without compromising anything of his divine nature (p.112)
• How Jesus’ death at the cross defeated Satan (p.134)
• Why the resurrection was necessary (pp.137-138)
• How baptism is better illustrated as a movie than a picture (p.203).

The book also includes a rich section on the Holy Spirit. This book made me even more passionate about teaching these wonderful things to my own children, and to the children and teens in my community.
Profile Image for Debbie.
3,216 reviews59 followers
June 14, 2010
"Big Truths for Young Hearts" is an excellent foundational book on theology for tweens and teens. I'd also recommend this book to new believers. The author did an excellent job of explaining complex topics in an understandable manner and without talking down to the reader (or listener).

The book felt like a Bible study with all the relevant verses included. I liked how the author gave a balanced, whole-Bible view of the topic and gave the verses so that the reader could see for him- or herself what the Bible said about the topic. He often gave useful analogies or explained hard ("Christian-ese") words in common language. He gave the generally agreed-upon, Biblical overview of various concepts, but he did mention when there was disagreement on the details (like immersion baptism versus infant sprinkling baptism).

At the end of the section for each topic, there were two questions to test if the person understood what that section taught. There was also a suggested memory verse related to that topic.

The book covered 60 topics that built on each other. The topics included how can we know about God; what is God like; what is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit like and how does the Trinity work; why did Jesus have to die for us; why do bad things happen; what is the church; what happens when we die; and what will happen in the end.

Like I said, I was very impressed by this book and plan on using it with a 12-year-old friend who recently came to know Christ. I'd highly recommend it to parents, youth group leaders, and new believers.
Profile Image for Brendan.
40 reviews8 followers
September 13, 2013
Bruce Ware's Big Truths for Young Hearts is a fantastic book. He spends the entire book walking through a systematic approach to theology, but on a level that is helpful for both kids and adults. Each section ends with questions that you can walk through with your children as well.

I don't think the book is written at a level that can be understood by preschoolers, and maybe not even grade schoolers, but as kids get older, this is a great introduction into the world of systematic theology. I dream of the day I can use this book to talk with my kids about the greatness of God and amazing theological truths.

This book deserves 5 stars because it is both precise, theologically accurate, and is readable and usable for children and adults. Not much else to be said, except get this book!

Profile Image for Isaiah Jesch.
74 reviews2 followers
January 15, 2015
I found this to be a bit different than what I expected. Dr. Ware has written essentially a primer for systematic theological studies in this book. I anticipated the lessons being a little "simpler" in their language and illustrations than they actually were. This isn't a bad thing though. I see good application in a parent reading through this then either rereading applicable parts, or paraphrasing and illustrating in language more suited for their particular child. Each chapter gives a good picture of "what we believe" and has almost no polemic nature to it. That can be good and bad. I personally own many good dogmatic and systematic works that could supplement this, but most people don't. I would recommend this book as a starting point with a few good resources to fill it out. Overall, an enjoyable read and a tool I may use with my own children one day.
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