“Hey, he sounds like Bob the Tomato.”
These were the first words out of my 8-year-olds mouth while we were watching the first DVD of What’s in the Bible. I quickly explained to Bradley that the man on the video does the voice for Bob on Veggie Tales. He immediately got a big smile on his face.
The clever, comedic genius Phil Vischer, creator of the adored vegetables of Veggie Tales, strikes again! What’s in the Bible features Vischer (as himself), and a host of puppets like Buck Denver: Man of News, Chuck Wagon, the piano playing Pastor Paul, a church history teaching pirate, and a Sunday School Lady complete with magic flannel-graph. The characters are engaging, the music is catchy, and our family loved watching the interviews with kids talking about Bible themes.
There are currently 8 DVD’s available, spanning Genesis through Song of Solomon, answering questions like, “What is the Bible?” “What is Salvation?” and “What is the Pentatuech?” To call this series ambitious would be an understatement.
What to expect on the first DVD
The first DVD covers a lot of info in two half-hour episodes. Part I starts where most Bibles start: the Table of Contents. Instead of leaping right into Genesis, Part I focuses on overview questions like: “What is the Bible?” and “How is the Bible is organized?” and “Why is the Bible important?”
Part II continues this overview, addressing subjects like: “Who were the human authors behind the Bible?” and “What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?” This is quickly followed by a look a primeval history (Genesis 1-11), teaching about creation, the fall, the great flood, and the Tower of Babel.
This all might sound like a lot to pack in. It is. But this program doesn’t focus on telling Bible stories as much as it gives a broad overview of important events and how they fit into the context of God’s big story.
Some Words of Caution
Would we recommend this DVD series? Yes. But it’s a qualified yes.
These videos are not like Veggies Tales. They don’t just simply teach a Bible story and the moral behind the story. These movies aim to catechize children, they seek to make Biblical theology accessible to our kids in a fun entertaining way. As such, we feel it’s best to watch carefully what is being taught and identify if there are any areas of discrepancy between your theology and that being taught in these movies.
We saw a few theological red flags.
- Vischer fell short of defending the full inspiration of the Bible. In short, he taught that God “breathed into” the writers His ideas but they chose the words. While there is some truth to this, the brief explanation given in the video sounds like a denial of the “plenary verbal inspiration” of the Bible (look it up if you are curious).
- Vischer tackled the tricky subject of the age of the earth. He briefly explained that part of the disagreement among Christians comes down to the meaning of “day”: is it earth days or “God days”? In the end he says we don’t really know what “day” means, but that’s okay because Genesis 1 and 2 aren’t primarily about the “how” of creation but the “Who” of creation. The creation story is about God and that’s the most important thing. While we are personally okay with this approach to teaching the subject, some families might be more dogmatic about what we can know about the age of the earth.
- What’s in the Bible, at least as far as the first DVD goes, seems to have Arminian leanings. Free will is discussed at length, and while our Reformed theology embraces the freedom of the will (i.e. we are all free to choose what we want), it also emphasizes the bondage of the will (i.e. we never want God, so we will never freely choose Him unless He regenerates us). The DVD equated Adam and Eve’s free will with our free will, and more or less removes God as the Sovereign over our choices.
Keep in mind, these “red flags” are not all that big and not all that red. Remember, these topics are spoken about in simple language meant for children, so some inaccuracies might simply be instances of reductionism (boiling theological ideas down to certain key points while ignoring other important points). Overall, we applaud Vischer and his team for tackling theological themes in a way that still keeps young kids glued to the screen.
Though there are certain aspects of the film’s instruction that we didn’t see eye-to-eye with, we saw this as a great opportunity to have some good dialog with our oldest son. These DVDs will give families occasion to discuss what they believe and why it might be different than what others believe. This will, hopefully, only serve to help our kids understand the Bible more fully and think critically about what they hear from others.
What we loved about this
The above criticisms might give the impression we didn’t enjoy the program, but nothing could be further from the truth. What’s in the Bible is laugh-out-loud witty. The characters all look like low-budget puppets that were pulled from an old church basement, but the program is high quality in every respect. The songs are fun and funny. The overly stereotyped characters are memorable and amusing. There’s even a musical appearance by Rhett & Link.
Our 8-year-old loved it. Our 3-year-old stayed engaged the whole time. Even our 1-year-old twins had fun bouncing to the music. Best of all, watching this program we felt like our children were getting more than just entertainment: they were getting an education. We love the overview of Biblical theology and church history and we think many families could benefit from seeing these videos. We sure would like to see more of them!
Win “What’s In the Bible?”
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Disclaimer: We were provided with a free sample of this product to review, and were under no obligation to review it, nor were we under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.