Social and Religious Transformations of an Image, 1890–1940
5. Children’s Jesus 151
151 5. Children’s Jesus In many ways, New Zealand’s Jesus was the children’s Jesus. First acquaintances with him came almost universally in childhood, and this was also the time when he was most regularly invoked. Children probably had more occasions to consider Jesus than any other group, and beliefs about the nature of childhood, religion and society ensured that these representations were enduring. Stated more forcefully, Jesus and childhood were strongly correlated. Jesus featured prominently in the religious idiom associated with children and became an increasingly important focus, especially in the religion of Protestant children during the first half of the twentieth century. Jesus’ prominence in the religion of childhood reflected the rise of Jesus-centred Protestantism, and the impact of long-term social and religious patterns. There is widespread agreement that more pluralistic urban societies favoured ‘the gradual emergence of a prolonged version of childhood and adolescence’.1 In the nineteenth century, childhood lengthened along with education. The twentieth century concept of adolescence extended childhood still further. Smaller families altered age relations, while the philosophies of Locke and Rousseau, Romantic ideals and psychological ideas about human development all encouraged gentler, more sympathetic, child-centred ideals. Religious values were also important. Christian concern for children was often inspired by the New Testament. The Gospels suggested that Jesus elevated their status within the family, and generally, by describing them as exemplary entrants into the Kingdom of God.2 Later Puritan and evangelical traditions emphasised doctrine of Original Sin, though the implications for child-rearing practices were often...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.