Friday, December 7, 2012

Searching Through Christianity to find Christ - An Honest Word on the Veggie Tales

So, you victoriously talk your child out of purchasing a Batman video by convincing him that these Veggie Tales DVD’s are “just as cool”…and “they’re Christian!”.  You sit contently in the other room, feeling all fluffy inside thinking, “at least he’s learning something good”, as your child watches, listens to, learns from, and instantly adores a concept, a creation, a carefully constructed cast of edible characters…harmless, right?  Over the next few weeks, your child talks endlessly about  Jim and Jerry Gourd or sings silly songs while he is supposed to be brushing his teeth…and you smile and think, “Oh,’s sinking in.”  So, you let your child pick a few more Veggie Tales videos  like “St. Nicholas” (Which is full of subliminal Santa Claus propaganda) and “The League of Incredible Vegetables” (which promotes the modern world’s pagan deities: super heroes) and you let him watch them back to back before dinner. When your child sees Junior Asparagus on a commercial, in a toy store, or on a t-shirt, he beams with joy, as though seeing a long-lost friend…tied securely through heart strings and the genuine trust of a child.  You pat yourself on the back, proud that your parenting has led him to such a righteous bond and buy him a Veggie night light, lunch box, and underwear.  You stop reading Bible stories with him so often, because you figure Bob and Larry have that covered.  His Sunday School teacher explains that he interrupts her reading with confident interjections like, “No. That’s not how it goes. It was the French peas…” believing her version to be the mixed up tale, rather than the animated “truth” you lovingly allowed him to memorize every day during naptime, and you laugh, amused by his loyalty.   One day he sees a Veggie Tales pirate ship with all the movable characters.  His eyes glaze over and he stares longingly at the box (ignorant to the evil history associated with pirates and the demonic symbol displayed on the ship’s sail) he does not politely request the idol-adorned item as Laura Carrot would do, but instead demands it loudly.  When you refuse, he digs his heels in with the most logical argument he has, “but, Mom….it’s Christian.”

There is no greater opportunity for the devil to dress himself in sheep’s clothing than when we mindlessly accept something because “it’s Christian”.   The title “Christian” is defined in the book of Acts as a “follower or believer of Christ” and was used specifically and pointedly for those who chose to follow after Jesus.   And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” – Acts 11:26

According to this New Testament definition, our modern version of the word Christian seems to be way off base. If a Christian is a person (a soul) that chooses to follow Christ…then how can something (an inanimate object) BE Christian?  It can’t.  Just as a book can not BE Jewish.  It can clearly promote Jewish doctrine, but it can not BE Jewish.  And so, a cartoon (or bracelet, toy, t-shirt, or cd) can not BE Christian.  Only those who confess Christ, are saved by grace through faith, and submit to following Him, can be called Christian.  Those clever creations from Big Ideas Inc. are witty, amusing, entertaining, and catchy…but they are not “Christian”.    In fact they are a subtle indoctrination in to the wonderful world of lukewarm Christianity.

For those of you who believe your children get a lot of “Christian teaching” from Veggie Tales… you’re right.  Your children are taught much about Christianity through these talking vegetables (and fruits).  Mostly they learn the following:  Christianity is funny….it’s silly….sometimes it doesn’t make sense….Christianity has weird stories that sound similar to the ones from the Bible, except way better….Christianity keeps up with modern culture by doing witty spoofs of familiar worldly idols…Christianity uses humor to mask the seriousness of old testament truth ….it cares not for the gospel and the fundamentals regarding salvation…Christianity doesn’t have much to do with Jesus….but, it promotes consumerism and idol worship through the marketing of cleverly advertised merchandise at the Christianity store …you can even buy Christianity candy and Christianity T-shirts! 

And, really….what else could you possibly want your children to learn about Christianity?

Now, if your intentions are to make sure your children enjoy their childhood, are entertained rather than educated, are amused rather than convicted,  have no sense of biblical truth, but at least learn a little morality, then the Veggie tales (and other ridiculous “Christian” paraphernalia) are perfect for you…carry on and forget I mentioned anything at all. No sense getting in your way (or should I say the devil’s way).

But, if your intentions are to act in responsibility to the stewardship you have been given as a parent, to train your child up in the way they should go, to teach truth, to live faithfully, and to prayerfully guide your children to salvation…then you have no business mingling with the world’s idea of Christianity.  Your children, especially, who have not developed filters, discernment, or self-restraint…have no business amusing their flesh with Laodicean compromise.

There is only one gospel.  Paul did not sing, and dance, and announce, “Boy, have we got a show for you!” before speaking of salvation.  He very boldly, and very reverently spoke the truth.  Which is what we, as Christians (proper use of the word) are called to do.  And we, as parents have an obligation to protect our children from anything less than that.

Even Phil Vischer himself  - founder of Veggie Tales – has rebuked the use of these videos (books, cds, action figures, backpacks, socks…) for Christian education and has started a new ministry with videos called, "What's in the Bible" ( I have not reviewed these yet).  Knowing how closely he played with fire according to Proverbs 30:6 (“Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”) Phil gave this statement:

“I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, ‘Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,’ or, ‘Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!’ But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality.” –Phil Vischer, founder of Veggietales

But, what’s wrong with morality?  Nothing.  Morality is the fruit of the spirit.  Aesop’s Fables and the Brothers Grimm can teach morality….but  nobody is pretending they’re “Christian.”  The danger in Veggie Tales (and most of what is sold in a “Christianity Store”) is a false sense of security.  Don’t let the devil catch you with your guard down. This is warfare. Your children’s souls are the bounty.

Of course, one mystery still remains:  Before cartoons, illustrated Bible Stories, and talking vegetables, how did children ever learn that “God made them special and He loves them very much?” 

….Somebody must have read them the Bible.

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