Saturday, April 23, 2011

What's in the Bible? (Part 2)

This is my concluding note on Phil Vischer's What's in the Bible? kids' program. Read Part 1 here.
What’s in the Bible? According to Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales and his new children’s video series, Arminianism is.

An Arminian Worldview
Apparently Vischer has decided that it is better to focus on Arminianism than Christ in the Old Testament (see previous post). Arminianism is much more complex than I can cover here, and my focus is only on one tenet of Arminianism, so it isn’t as though Vischer has devoted a whole DVD to the articles of Remonstrance.

I am a Calvinist, and I have no qualms about it. If that term has excess baggage for you, check out this post to get a better idea of what I believe. I don’t think the show should teach Calvinism if that isn’t what Phil Vischer believes, but he sets up viewers to read and understand the Bible from only one interpretive frame work: man’s free will. This is unbiblical.

True, certain things can be extrapolated from the Bible based on the whole of what the Bible says about something. That’s why we talk about the Trinity. But even the theologians who debated and helped form the early creeds regarding the Trinity knew that they had to take in all the evidence if they were to use non-biblical language. But Vischer’s explanation of free will is selective. A more Biblical explanation of this topic can be addressed by looking at God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, which is not a synonym for “free will.” These things are found in the Bible and discussed together, especially in Romans 9, Ephesians 1, and other places.

While attempting to explain the fall (and man’s other sinful actions), Phil says that God has given human beings a “powerful and dangerous gift—free will.” Dangerous? For who? From the video, it seems it was dangerous for both us and God. As a result, the interpretive framework that ties the three videos together is free will to the exclusion of the sovereignty of God. And as far as the show is concerned, God didn’t have a plan of redemption until after the fall. When God created Adam and Eve, He was taking a risk.

A risk?

Does that mean God was blindsided? Shocked? Caught off guard? The show doesn’t ask or answer those questions. But the point is clear: the fall depended entirely on Adam and Eve. Not only does this encourage children to have a man-focused instead of God-focused understanding of the Scriptures, it actually twists the sovereignty of God into a potential reality, not a kinetic reality.

More to Come

I think much can be gained from What’s in the Bible?. As a parent (or soon-to-be parent), I want my children to have every opportunity to learn God’s story and have a chance to respond to the gospel. Children are drawn to media, and I plan to make use of this show and others to help my kids understand what the Bible says and teaches.

Vischer’s characters are both entertaining and educational. I’ve had friends tell me they were learning right along with their children. The content is heavy, and it is amazing what can be squeezed into a 50 minute program.

No parent should rely solely on kids’ programming, church classes, or sermons to instruct their children. Ultimately each parent is responsible for his or her child’s spiritual formation. With What’s in the Bible?, there is a definite need to give more guidance and clarification to young minds.

To what extent Phil Vischer is an Arminian will only be revealed as more episodes are aired. I may buy them if they drop down into my price threshold (yes, I am cheap). Until then, Vischer has given us enough to contemplate (and be concerned over) in the videos that have already been released.

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