What’s in the Old Testament? According to Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales and his new children’s video series, Christ isn't.
Our local Christian bookstore had a sale on the What’s in the Bible DVDs last year and my wife and I picked up the first three for a fraction of the sale price. Since we were planning on having kids (and since our first one is now on the way), we wanted to make sure we started stockpiling children’s films to replace the action and war movies lining my shelf (oh the agony!).
After watching the first three, I was very impressed with the quality of the production. The puppets look very professional (though we think one puppet was used twice featuring a different outfit, different nose). The songs are fun and catchy. And the teaching gets pretty deep.
Instead of only telling Bible stories, the show tries to answer interpretive and other questions people ask, such as “Where did the Bible come from?” and “Why are there only 66 books?” The resulting material is interesting. On the one hand, much of the show’s material would go over the head of preschoolers and elementary students. I don’t know if the show could keep the attention and interest of middle school students.
Then again, I still watch VeggieTales (over 20 DVDs and counting) because I find them entertaining, so my wife would be a better judge of the episodes’ educational and entertainment value for children.
A Christ-less Old Testament?
It seems in an effort to go through the books of the Bible in order, the creators have decided to make few references to Christ until they get to the New Testament. They could have spent a considerable amount of time talking about the protoevangelium where God promises the woman’s seed will crush the serpent’s head in Genesis, the fact that Christ is our Passover lamb, that when Moses announced that God would raise up a Prophet like himself, he was talking about Jesus, or that Jesus fulfilled the law.
But they didn’t.
Phil Vischer said on his blog,
…God didn't start his rescue plan with Jesus. God's rescue plan starts with Abraham, and then slogs its way through the entire history of Israel. Why? Because if we don't see how impossible it was for Israel to live under the Law, we really don't understand why the incarnation was so necessary. We can't please God on our own. Israel tried, and tried, and tried. And failed, and failed, and failed. Man's inability to live up to God's standard is the problem. Jesus is the solution. If our kids don't fully appreciate the problem, should we really be surprised if they fail to fully appreciate the solution?
I think I understand his intentions, but should we hold off telling about Jesus until we can give nine videos worth of summary of the Old Testament? Besides, God’s “rescue plan” is first revealed in Genesis 3:16 with the promise concerning the woman’s seed, a promise that is fulfilled in Jesus. And Revelation describes Christ as the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” God’s rescue plan begins and ends with Christ, and as such What’s in the Bible? should focus on Him. What subtly comes across is that you must have a grasp of the Old Testament (i.e. be Jewish) before you can be a Christian, an issue that was resolved by the early church (see Acts 15).
Stay tuned for part two...