Jonathan Gibson, PhD, is ordained in the International Presbyterian Church (UK) and serves as Associate Professor of Old Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. Gibson served as coeditor with Mark Earngey of Reformation Worship and was a contributor and coeditor with David Gibson of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her. He is the author of The Moon Is Always Round and coauthor of the Acrostic Theology for Kids Series.
Timothy Brindle, ThM, MDiv, is a pastor at Olive Street Presbyterian Church (PCA), and a candidate for the PhD in Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, where he serves as the Senior Stewardship Officer. He is the author of The Unfolding and has released several Christian hip-hop albums. He is coauthor of the Acrostic Theology for Kids Series.
In this Interview they talk with us about their latest Children’s book, The Acrostic of Jesus.
FF: The Acrostic of Jesus is the second book in the Acrostic Theology for Kids Series. Could you introduce us to the series?
The Acrostic Theology for Kids Series is a mini-theology curriculum for children. Just like a seminary student learns theology proper (the study of God), Christology (the study of Christ), soteriology (the study of salvation), and biblical theology (how Scripture fits together as a unifying whole), each volume in this series teaches children with these focuses.
This series of books teaches theology to kids through acrostic and rhyme. Just as God uses acrostic poems in Scripture, the Acrostic Theology for Kids Series uses acrostic poems as a teaching tool to help God’s children of all ages to remember his truth. For example, in The Acrostic of Jesus, each page has a name, title, or attribute of Jesus with the corresponding letters of the alphabet: Able, Bread of Life, Christ, Door, etc.
Another feature of the Acrostic Theology for Kids books is that they are all written in rhyme—usually multisyllabic rhymes—in which the rhyming phrases are marked in italics:
Able to rescue, Jesus has the power to save;
He can redeem sinners, who are bound as a slave.
Jesus helps children, who don’t know how to behave;
He can even raise the dead who are down in the grave.
Learning theology through rhyme serves as a helpful memory tool for kids and their parents to remember God’s truth. These features, along with C.S. Fritz’s creative letter art, are unique to the series.
FF: What books are currently available in the series, and what can we look forward to in the future?
Thus far, The Acrostic of God: A Rhyming Theology for Kids is available, which focuses on the attributes and titles of the Triune God of Scripture: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Also available is The Acrostic of Jesus: A Rhyming Christology for Kids, which focuses on the attributes and titles of Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity.
Coming up in the next year will be The Acrostic of Salvation: A Rhyming Soteriology for Kids and The Acrostic of Scripture: A Rhyming Biblical Theology for Kids.
FF: How did the idea for the series come about?
Jonathan Gibson was inspired by John Calvin’s Catechism for the Genevan Church (1537), especially when he learned that Calvin wrote a simplified version for children four years later, which was called The French ABCs.
When Jonathan asked me to join him in writing this series, I was especially excited because my wife, Floriana, and I had been teaching our children the attributes of God through acrostic posters we put up along the dining room wall to discuss with our eight children during dinner time.
FF: Where can we find examples of acrostics in the Bible?
Psalm 119 is the most well-known acrostic poem in the Bible, in which the psalmist begins eight lines in a row with each letter in the Hebrew alphabet (eight lines with Aleph, eight lines with Bet, etc.). Psalm 25 is also an acrostic poem in Hebrew, as well as Psalm 37, Psalm 111, and 112. The book of Lamentations is also written as an acrostic poem.
FF: Was it difficult to find an attribute of Jesus that fit for each letter of the alphabet? What were the hardest or most unique letters to find a word for?
It was not difficult to find an attribute, name, or title of Jesus for each letter. Usually, the most challenging thing was deciding which attribute or name to use for certain letters where multiple ones could have been chosen. For example, for “L” we could have picked Lord, life, or love. For “R,” we included several “R” words along with the main focus of resurrection—righteous, ruling, reigning, and returning!
Not surprisingly, Q and X are always the trickiest! In The Acrostic of God we kind of cheated by allowing the second letter to have the X with “eXcellent.” We did the same thing in The Acrostic of Jesus with “eXalted.”
FF: What are some of your favorite attributes of Jesus that can be found in the book?
We are excited to help God’s people understand how the Old Testament points forward to the person and work of Christ. One of the ways it does that is through the three mediatory offices which we highlight on the sections of “King” and “Prophet and Priest.” Since “Christ means ‘Messiah’—Jesus is God’s Anointed One,” we wanted to show how Jesus is the anointed prophet, priest, and king of his people, the one the Old Testament anticipates and promises. As our king, Christ has come to crush the head of the serpent, reveal to us God’s truth as the final prophet, and die as the final sacrifice who intercedes on our behalf forever as our resurrected High Priest!
We are also passionate for children to learn that God the Son is both “Tender” in his gentle love and humble compassion for broken people, but He is also the “Zealous” and holy judge of the universe who has a righteous jealousy for God’s glory.
FF: How challenging was it to work out the rhymes for each attribute?
Overall, putting the truths of Jesus in rhyme form was not a great challenge. I have been articulating the teachings of Scripture through rhymes since 2002, as have released several Christian hip-hop albums the last twenty years. Although Jonathan is not a rapper, he has a love of poetry and lyrics, and helps sharpen my rhymes. Perhaps the most challenging and humorous aspect of working out rhymes has been the way that Northern Irish English speakers (such as Jonathan) and American English speakers (such as myself) pronounce words differently. Everything does not rhyme the same when pronounced with different accents!
FF: How can families use The Acrostic of Jesus together as a family devotional?
There are several ways to use the book as a family. Families can study one attribute of Jesus per evening by reading it out loud together, then a parent can draw out aspects of that attribute for their children. Families can then turn to the Bible verses that are found at the bottom of the page to see the how the truths all come from Scripture.
If families do their family worship time during dinner, they can write the letter of the attribute they are studying on a piece of paper with the attribute below it and a corresponding Bible verse. After the parent teaches the children from the book and the Scriptures, they can attach the paper to the wall in their dining room just below the ceiling. This will help families review the prior letters/attributes they have learned. It will take less than a month to go through the book!
Lastly, reading one page of The Acrostic of Jesus at night with their child can be helpful when praying with them at bedtime.
The acrostic books are also great resources for homeschool families to incorporate into the homeschool curriculum!
FF: Can you tell us more about the audiobook that is available for those who purchase the hardcover version? How will readers be able to access it?
In the back of the book, there is a QR code to scan with a smart phone. That code will take you to a webpage where you can play the audiobook.
There a couple of purposes to the audiobook which is a recording of me reading the book out loud. First, it seeks to model how the acrostic books should be read out loud, by putting a verbal emphasis on the rhyming words and phrases in italics at the end of each line. Second, it can be used for children who are beginning readers, to help them read the book themselves with the audiobook as a guide.
FF: Timothy, can you tell us about The Acrostic of Jesus album that is also available on your website? Will there be an album for each book?
On the album for The Acrostic of Jesus, I rap the words of the book over hip-hop beats. Since the book is already written in rhyme—with most lines having the same amount of syllables as its pair—it has been fun for me to put the book into song form!
The Acrostic of Jesus: A Rhyming Christology for Kids
Acrostic Theology for Kids Series #2
Jonathan Gibson & Timothy Brindle
Illustrator: C.S. Fritz
New Growth Press
Release Date: March 7, 2022
“Resurrection, because Jesus gives life to the dead;
Before he was risen, he gave his life in our stead.
See, all of us will die, returning back to the dust;
But he’ll raise us like Lazarus—we just have to trust.
Without sin, he is righteous, born of a virgin.
By his resurrection, our salvation is certain.
Now he is risen, ruling, and reigning,
Soon he’ll be returning, to begin the final raising!”
Catechism can be fun! The Acrostic of Jesus is a joy to read over and over again, and a brilliant tool to help kids gain a greater understanding of Christ. Young readers will learn “Christology”—the study of Jesus. The more we learn about Jesus, the more reasons we have to love him!
By giving children an alphabetical list of the names and attributes of Jesus written with a rhyming beat, Jonathan Gibson and Timothy Brindle make The Acrostic of Jesus fun to read and simple to memorize. Each characteristic, A to Z, weaves together a beautiful picture of who Jesus is and why he came to earth.
Using the alphabet to teach about God has a rich history in the Bible, especially in the Psalms and Lamentations. Several of the psalms—notably Psalm 119—begin with letters of the Hebrew alphabet, forming an acrostic that spells out the entire alphabet.
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