If I Could Ask God Anything by Kathryn Slattery
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A couple years back my daughter who was 8 at the time came to me and said "If God is good and God created everything, where did the devil come from?" A short conversation ensued in which we talked a little about freewill. A couple of days later she came back and asked "Why did God create us with freewill?". I tried to explain about the need for love to be a choice but in the end she looked at me with a puzzled look and said "I just don't get it". A couple of months later she asked my "What if it's all a lie ... you know G-O-D?" so when I saw this book was up for review at Booksneeze I requested it to see how the author dealt with some of these questions.
The book consists of answers to 180+ questions broken up into eleven categories: God, Jesus, Holy spirit, The Bible, Christianity, Prayer, The Church, Christian Seasons and Holidays, Being a Christian Here and Now, Being a Christian Forever and Ever and Big Questions. Most of the answers are about one page and in some instances could have been longer. Many of the answers are good and would be useful as a starting point in in discussions with children, with bible verses so you can look up the original stories in the bible.
My eleven year old daughter has been concerned about how God speaks so I suggested we read the section "Can God actually speak to me?". In my opinion the author gave an excellent answer to this question but my daughter raised her eyebrows after reading the answer to "How do I really know Jesus walked on water". I think she found the statement Yes Jesus really did followed by a retelling of the bible story with a verse completely inadequate in answering the question.
I had some major issues with her treatment of some topics, the biggest of these being her views on heaven and the soul which tended to make me grind my teeth when I came to them and in particular her sloppy use of the bible in relation to this. There are numerous times when she writes about our souls living in heaven with God after we die and uses John 3:16 to illustrate this. John 3:16 only talks about having eternal life. The author makes the very common mistake of reducing our hope in Christ and Jesus triumph over death to the idea that a little bit of us that is eternal will go to live in heaven where Jesus is now, when in fact the resurrection of Jesus points to the time when all creation will be made new, us included. In the bible it says that the current heaven and earth will pass away. Some of the passages in revelation which she uses to talk about heaven actually refer to the new earth and new heaven. It is in this new creation that every tear will be wiped away our hope is not in leaving the physical to inhabit some spiritual realm but in the redemption of the whole creation.
I also feel that Jesus divinity was not well explained or stressed. The only section that explicitly names Jesus as God is in the question "Who is the trinity?". In the rest of the book it is not mentioned at all and Jesus could almost be considered just a very special human.
Lastly have a think about what you might say to the question "What's the major difference between Christianity and other religions" I was surprised to see that there was no mention of the fact that in Christianity God stoops down to rescue us and completely bridges the gap as contrasted with other beliefs that centre on how we can try to make our own way to God (or perfection). Also what about the fact the Christianity is based around an event that happened in history, that there is good reasons to believe actually happened.
I can't recommend this as a resource for answering your kids questions about God, mainly because of the issues above. I believe we need to be very careful in giving a good example to our kids of how to use the bible, and we also need to show them that there are good reasons to believe that the Christian faith is true and not just a big lie.