By Andrew V. Ste. Marie
Recently my family received an advertisement for a series of DVDs teaching Old Testament stories to children. Across the top of the postcard was the slogan, “The Bible Made Easy.” Then there were pictures of the eight volumes already released, followed by an endorsement saying “My kids are learning the word of God and enjoying every minute of it!” The series was created by Phil Vischer, creator of the very popular VeggieTales video series.
Looking at the covers of these new videos, it is hard to believe they are any more serious than VeggieTales. “Cute” Bible characters sport huge smiles as they are pictured in dramatic moments of their lives. Moses, for instance, smiles from Mt. Sinai with the tablets of the Law in his hands.
Seeing the cover artwork for the series makes me deeply question the assertion that children are learning the Word of God. Moses, for instance, was not a “cute” fellow. Mt. Sinai was not something to laugh and joke about. The seriousness of Mt. Sinai and what occurred there is plainly shown in Exodus 19. We are told that “so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake” (Hebrews 12:21). If the impression children get of Moses and Mt. Sinai is anything less than the terrifying awesomeness of God’s descent, clearly showing that He is not Someone to be trifled with, instilling a holy and awesome fear of God, they have not learned what the Word of God has to say about that event!
Who says children need the Word of God made “fun” for them? The Bible is not meant to be “fun”. Sin, salvation, the Kingdom of God, Heaven, and Hell are serious issues not to be made light of. There is nothing wrong with simplifying complex stories or concepts for children to understand, but are we to make the Bible into a show of foolishness in order to “teach” children? Is that really what God wants?
When Paul wrote to the churches, it appears that he intended that his letters would be read by the churches in their normal meetings. Notice that he inserts instructions to the children right in the middle of those letters! That means the children would have been sitting right by their parents, paying attention through Paul’s sometimes hard-to-understand letters. What does that say about modern attempts to dumbdown the Bible to make it “interesting” and “fun” for children?
Such attempts, whether in video form or in Bible storybooks, reduce the Bible to a heap of foolishness to be laughed at and used for entertainment. “I’m bored! I want to watch a Bible tape!” Is this what God wants? What will such attempts lead to? May I suggest that it will lead to adults who take the Bible no more seriously than they did as children – a funny book filled with “cute” or laughable stories, to be used for the amusement of children.
Is God pleased with this? I will leave it to the reader to decide.
Originally published in The Witness, November 2012.