7/07/2006

The Gospel According to Scholastic

Wednesday is grocery day. Every Wednesday, I drive my husband to work, drop him off, do my groceries and run any other errands that need to be done. This past Wednesday when I was doing my shopping, I happened to look at some kids books they were selling in my grocery store. (As a note, I would never buy books at a regular store unless it was absolutely necessary. My husband works at a bookstore and gets great deals. Any book you need, he can find it for cheap.)
As I was looking, I happened to spot a children's first Bible, published by Scholastic. Since my daughter is just discovering the joy of turning pages (though not much else about reading makes sense to her as yet) I decided to pick it up and take a look. The Bible was expectedly simple. There was roughly one page allotted for each major story in the Bible, perhaps two. There were, however, two glaring and unforgivable omissions.
The Creation story ended with God creating Adam and Eve and calling His Creation good. The story of Jesus ended with Him sitting the little children on His knee, telling us that He will always be our friend. In other words, there was no fall and no death or resurrection. Jesus was not God; He was just some guy. There was Christmas which, when you really stop and think about it, is a bizarre inclusion in the light of no fall and no salvation.
It occurred to me that whoever put this children's Bible must have thought they were doing a good thing. After all, children would be exposed to what is arguably society's most important book. If the author/editor was a Christian, they may even have convinced themselves that they were presenting children with the Good News of the Gospel, perhaps for the first time. In fact, I have no doubt that there will even be a few Christians reading this thinking "Why are you concerned? At least they are putting a Bible for children out there. That guy was doing a great thing for our kids and should be commended."
Consider this fact. Such a view of what the Bible is and should be utterly omits its raison d'etre. The Bible exists to tell us that we are in sin and that God loved us enough to do something, namely send His Son to die to bring us out of that sin and bring us into relationship with Him. If a Bible is presented to anyone and it does not contain these key elements of sin and salvation, then what does that Bible actually present?
It presents a world in which everyone is ok, not in sin and not in need of God's divine grace. The book's omission of the fall naturally resulted in the omission of the death and resurrection of Christ. How could it be otherwise? If we are not in sin, salvation is unnecessary. There is nothing to save us from.
Where is the Good News of the Gospel if this is as good as the world gets? What kind of a loving God leaves us in a world like this one and tells us we are fine? Think about it. Does this version of Christianity offer any hope? Any joy? Any meaning? Does this version of Christianity distinguish itself from other religions as being the Way, the Truth or the Life?
The Bible, no matter what version, teaches something. To be honest, before Wednesday it had never occurred to me that there might be a children's Bible out there that would omit the central tenets of Christianity. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. We must keep in mind that this verse applies to the bad as well as the good. Regarding children, Matthew 18:6 says But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. When we teach our children, we must do it with the utmost care. They are young, impressionable and their minds are easily influence, especially by what their parents tell them. James 3:1 says Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. The crucial components of the Bible cannot be removed or even watered down. To do so would lead our children astray and put ourselves in danger. If we love our children, then we will teach them what is right and true. We will never present them the Gospel according to Scholastic.

6 comments:

S.Morgan said...

I dunno Ruth, I don't see it as just "putting a childrens Bible out there" ~ What young child, is going to know that the world is "bad" and we are all sinners? It seems to me that though Scholastic left out the good parts, it may have been with the reasoning that to put a book out there that has someone dying on purpose just might be a bit much for the children it is aimed at?

From your own point of thought ~ the fact that very few people seem to actually TEACH their own children anything anymore, relying pretty much on outside sources ~ the Scholastic folks may have been taking into account that most children this book would appeal to would be reading it alone. The possiblity that a child could take things "badly" are huge ~ any one reading by themselves may only pick up on the fact that people are "bad" and there is no hope. Or that they are bad, and they must kill people to make themselves better...the possiblities for different interpretations seem fairly endless to me.

My second thought on this is that Scholastic wasn't really using it as a Bible per se. Maybe they view it as simply a book of stories, and the word "Bible" on the front as merely a selling point ~ because irregardless of what people can say, or convince themselves of, nearly everyone believes in a higher power, and the need to expose their children in some way is there within them ~ and they (scholastic) know this.

Even if it is just in "stories".

Third thought ~ the Bible, no matter what version it is, does teach something. Perhaps not the same way I learned it, but in this day and age, is that truly such a bad thing? To put the seed in a place where there is any possiblity that it could grow?

Hannah said...

S.Morgan, You can be sure that a seed will be planted. I would be skeptical of what seed that is, though.

I feel that it is almost better to have no bible at all than to have a "good parts" bible. A child would understand that "then Adam and Eve did something very bad, so God sent them away from the Garden."

To a child, that would equate with "Then Bobby did something very bad, so mommy sent him to his room." Bad has consequences.

"But God loved Adam and Eve, so He came to Earth to die for them so they would be forgiven." That's not a scary thing for a child.

"But God loved Bobby, so God took Bobby's spanking for him."

Details don't need to be gory, and even the truth of the gospel can be told in terms that a child can understand. In fact, I think children understand the simplistic beauty of the gospel far more than adults do.

Ruth said...

What young child, is going to know that the world is "bad" and we are all sinners?
Everyone knows they are bad. The first time a kid disobeys, they know they are being bad. Badness is not something you have to explain to a kid. They'll get it.
I'd also like to point out that your argument is basically as follows: "Parents are too lazy to teach their own kids properly so lets just let the kids teach themselves something that is wrong and not provide any correction." This is how you get peiople who think the Bible allows gay marriage... or even being gay.
...is that truly such a bad thing?
Yes. Teaching your children error or not teaching them at all is a very bad thing. And what does "this day and age" have to do with it? Either right is right and wrong is wrong or we may as well give up.
Hannah is right. One should be skeptical of the seed being planted by this version of the "Bible."

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Good post, Ruth. It shows how much you care about your daughter, to give so much thought to her reading material, and the selection of a Bible.

S.Morgan said...

Everyone knows they are bad. The first time a kid disobeys, they know they are being bad.

no they don't. A child is taught that which is bad, and that which is not. And once they do know, what child instinctively knows that they are just behaving badly, or that they are bad themselves? And at what age will any child actually understand the difference between the two? Especially (which is my point) without guidance?

"Parents are too lazy to teach their own kids properly so lets just let the kids teach themselves something that is wrong

eyp. children are mostly on their own these days. there ARE exceptions (mine, and yours for one)I find them a rarity where I live/work.

and not provide any correction."
Not a matter of NOT, so much as a matter of not giving a damn to do so. It is the "whatever" generation.

To hopefully clarify ~ It isn't a matter of actually teaching them, but many many children are being left on their own to teach themselves. A story that will interest them, and the possibility of them remembering, having a lightbulb come on, the potential for further growth, later on? I don't think that is necessarily bad.

And I truly am skeptical of any thing that teaches only half of a lesson. Like I say, I don't think a story book, how ever little or left out things are, may not be a totally wrong thing to have around.

P.s. ~ and I fully admit to being jaded, but "In this "day and age" ~ to me, this the age where people don't really care to much about anything but themselves. 'tis simply my personal opinion.

S.Morgan said...

sorry, I'm new to this type of thing...shoulda put this in my previous post...

Mousie said: "Details don't need to be gory, and even the truth of the gospel can be told in terms that a child can understand. In fact, I think children understand the simplistic beauty of the gospel far more than adults do."

I agree ~ for the most part. There are those that simply accept ~ those, by and large, are they that have not known violence.

As for the "gory" details, there isn't anything NOT gory about it ... and what good are we doing potential readers if we intimate "hanging on the cross" isn't painful? For some, the apparent violence of Christs' death is unbearable ~ they can not understand the death of man (just like us) as a good thing, they only see him in pain. they see that he was intentionally hurt, and with deadly results. Never mind that he came back from the dead. Dead is dead at that point.

To repeat myself, on the upside, they can understand the stories, and the morals/lessons contained within them ~ And that is a start. I think it better to have that start, than to potentially lose someone all together.

:) Morg

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