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Thursday, August 28, 2008 

Chronicles Of Narnia, Veggie Tales, And Teaching Children Part 2

In this post I’ll finish answering A.L.’s email question concerning Veggie Tales. A.L. had written me the following email (sorry for taking so long A.L.!):

Frank,

Just out of curiosity - I know you like the "Chronicles of Narnia" SNL skit, but what is your take on the comparing and contrasting of Christ's sacrifice and the life of the Church with the Chronicles? I have an issue with it because I don't want my kids to see a lion in a movie and think "Gee, he's like Jesus!" Same thing with "Veggie Tales" - I don't want them to think a piece of asparagus died on the cross for them. A cartoon/fictional movie should be just that and shouldn't involve elements of our Faith because that's just like the Churches that lower themselves by bending with society for the sake of attracting the unchurched. I'm not a big CS Lewis fan to begin with, but I'd love to hear your opinion. I have relatives who are die-hard Veggie Tales fans and I think it's disgusting - hence my post about people who will try to influence my child's spirituality. These are the same people who have a problem with Harry Potter - although I see that as entertainment as I do Star Wars because it doesn't bring in Christianity at all. Let me know your take –

A.L.

Most folks think I’m completely unqualified to give an opinion as I don’t have any children of mine own. However, I think not having kinder does allow me a certain unbiased perspective.

I think if you want to throw a tape of Veggie Tales in to entertain the little tykes, that’s ok, sort of. I see absolutely nothing wrong with Veggies Tales just as I see nothing wrong with Thomas the Tank Engine. In fact, I can barely see any difference between the two shows for the little ragamuffins. Why would I say that? Allow me to ‘splain myself.

There are just as many mentions of Jesus in Veggie Tales as in Thomas the Tank Engine. A.L., if you are looking to instruct your child(ren) in the Christian faith you would get more mentions of Jesus in either book by Joel Osteen, and believe you me, that ain’t much so I would probably avoid him as well. (I think Osteen mentioned Jesus, what was it, three times in his last book?) The question then becomes this; what does Veggie Tales teach and if Christ is absent, can the Christian faith be properly understood and taught?

Veggie Tales just as with Thomas the Tank Engine teach morality and nothing more. Yes, they have fruit and vegtables acting out Bible stories, but what is the value of any story that doesn’t point to the Crucified Lord’s salvific work that conquered sin, death, and the devil by offering up Himself as the atoning sacrifice on the cross? Let’s look at what Jesus himself says in John 5:37- 47:

And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. “I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Christ clearly says all the Scriptures point to Him. The Pharisees read and knew their scriptures as well as anyone, but they couldn’t see Jesus in them. What value is the Torah and the prophets if they don’t declare the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? No value at all if you ask me.

Jesus also taught on the road to Emmaus in Luke chapter 24:25-27:

Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

See A.L., the point of Scripture is to point to crucified and risen Jesus and His work. The question I have is why do some parents seem to think that Veggie Tales actually do that? Yes, they do teach kids to be good, nice and moral and not bow down to giant chocolate rabbits but the videos fail to point to Jesus. In this regard, as with all of God’s good and righteous Law we fail on every account, hence the need for Jesus.

I’ve heard more than one parent say they use Veggie Tales to supplement what their kids learn at church. With the state of Americanized Christianity being what it is, this is bit disturbing. A majority of churches and a goodly number of Lutheran churches as well, are not teaching even the basics of Christianity. With so many churches becoming seeker sensitive and more closely resembling Dr. Phil’s self help hour in order to find one’s purpose in life, why not sit down and actually teach your kid(s) instead of letting the talking vegetables do it?

I think that if you are just looking for entertainment, Veggie Tales will fit the bill, sort of. If on the other hand, you are looking for teaching that focuses on Christ and His gifts, Veggie Tales falls short of the hitting that mark and ends up smelling like rotten tomatoes.

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I think part of the issue is that people can mistake "moral teaching" for Christianity. Some of the Veggie Tales, not including the ones sanitized by NBC, aren't that bad at giving moral lessons.

But when you consider that in "Sunday School" most kids get Bible stories, when Bible stories are delivered Veggie Tales style, at best it's just more of the same. It should be supplemented with real teaching about Christ. Hopefully these kids get to go to worship with the adults.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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