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June 09, 2012

The Dark Side of Veggie Tales

Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, went bankrupt in 2003, sold the franchise, and turned to other ventures.  In an interview with World Magazine, he says how he realized that the “Christian” message of those talking vegetables was not Christianity at all.

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. . . .

And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god. So I had to peel that apart. I realized I’m not supposed to be pursuing impact, I’m supposed to be pursuing God. And when I pursue God I will have exactly as much impact as He wants me to have.

Now I am not saying stop watching Veggietales or don’t support it but I think as parents we must be able to use this time as teachable moments for our kids. It is an opportunity to share the love and grace of God and expound on the gospel. Let us not just teach morality to our kids. Apart from the gospel – we might just produce legalistic self righteous kids in the near future.

I love how one of the viewers commented on Vischer’s statement:

Mr. Vischer’s point is that he wants people (and children in particular) to know Christianity over moralism, and that means not just teaching “good moral lessons,” as good as those may be. It means teaching kids the uncomfortable truth that they are sinners, that they cannot be good enough to save themselves, and that they must look to Christ and His work on the cross in faith for salvation. It means dividing law and gospel properly, with teaching the law in its full sternness for the sinner, and the gospel in its full sweetness to the person crying out “What must I do to be saved?” I believe… and hope.. that this is Mr.Vischer’s point.

Highly Recommended Readings for Parents:

1. Shepherding a Child’s Heart

2. Instructing a Child’s Heart

3. Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus

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