Seminary/School of Divinity
Date of Paper/Work
Master of Arts in Theology (M.A.)
Type of Paper/Work
John Martens Ph.D., Kenneth Snyder Ph.D., Amy Lindeman Allen Ph.D.
Christ spoke about children as those to whom that which was hidden had been revealed (Matthew 11:15-27) and rebuked those who kept the children from him, stating that they were the ones who would enter his Kingdom (Mark 10:13-16) and like whom the adult needed to become (Matthew 18:1-5). However, children have often been perceived, historically, as “less than human” or as “adults in the making.” There is much to teach children about God and yet they also offer a unique gift to the Church as theologians or those who study or speak about God. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who received no higher education but looked primarily to the Scriptures for guidance and to Jesus as her spiritual director, was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church (defined as a theologian of “eminent learning”) in 1997. Her “Little Way” of receiving and enjoying the many gifts of God in her life and then responding in love is taken from the ways of the young child and has offered a spiritual pathway in line with the teaching of Christ himself regarding children. Catholic educators Maria Montessori, Gianna Gobbi, and Sofia Cavalletti have built on the foundation offered by Thérèse by preparing an environment for the child in which he can hear God’s voice though Scripture and his action in the liturgy. Observing the children’s responses of praise and thanks to God has helped provide the opportunity for adults to tune their ears to the children’s insights in a new way. The words of Jesus, along with St. Thérèse’s “Way of Spiritual Childhood,” provide a theological framework for the young child’s insights as they elucidate through their lives how to receive, enjoy, and respond to God.
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Kohlhaas, Carolyn, "The Child as a Theologian" (2022). School of Divinity Master’s Theses and Projects. 32.