Bibleman and the Gospel

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

We've watched him for several years, and our kids have enjoyed him. When measured against Veggie Tales, Bibleman by far offers more "Bible." Full texts are quoted in each video every two or three minutes or so. That's probably one of the most redeeming qualities of the series.

Last night, I took my kids to First Assembly of God in Griffin, GA to see the 2005 Bibleman Live Adventure Show. This year's adventure was "The Fight of Faith," and it's about the Wacky Protester's devious plan to kidnap kids from a local church VBS and trick them into stepping through a transportal into an animated universe where there is no God, no church, and no Bible. Bibleman and his two sidekicks, Biblegirl and Cypher, save the day as they rescue these kids and foil the Wacky Protester's plans once again. Lightsaber fights, pyrotechnics, laser lights, and a massive mobile command unit on the church stage made for an exciting, fun-filled evening out with the family.

There are a couple of issues I have though, the more I learn to love and live the gospel. The first is the marketing of Christianity that is done with the gospel message. I felt so uncomfortable the whole time, feeling as if I was contributing to this marketing, which ends up almost making the gospel a product. With Bibleman DVD's for sale, video's, CD's, study Bibles, "Combat Manuals", capes, masks, and lightsabers, the gospel takes a backseat to the money. Especially since we each paid six bucks to get in to see the thing in the first place. This was especially disappointing since Willie Ames (former star on Eight is Enough and Charles in Charge) is no longer Bibleman. Willie would charge no admission fee, and at the end of each adventure would stick around to talk to the last child and sign autographs. In 2003 Willie handed Bibleman over to Pamplin Entertainment and Thundermedia who now charged admission to get in, and charged a buck fifty for each color postcard for autographing purposes.

The second struggle was the usual invitation offered at the end. The usual catch phrases were used: invite Jesus into your heart, make him your best friend, make a decision for Jesus, etc. The old "ABC" gospel plan was given: admit your a sinner, believe Jesus died to take your place, and choose to follow Him. There were elements of the gospel presentation which were biblical, but I'm afraid that overall, there was little biblically-speaking which was presented about following Jesus the way Jesus Himself talked about it. At the end, kids were invited to pray a prayer which started exactly like this: "Jesus, I think you're cool and I want you to be my best friend." The rest of the prayer was a little better than the average 'sinner's prayer' but at the end, false assurance was given, as usual, that if a child prayed that prayer, they were now officially Christians.

Kids who prayed that prayer were then invited down forward. Bibleman explained to them that he didn't want them coming just to get a closer look at the Mobile Command Unit or his shiny spandex suit. But what kid wouldn't take such an opportunity to do so? Decisional regeneration is still alive and doing very well in local churches.

I guess in a nutshell, as I told my wife on the way home last night, if it were just Bibleman, or a handful of other such means of Christian entertainment, I'd be okay with it. But our churches and homes are simply flooded with Christian entertainment such that Jesus has become a marketable product, whether through a talking Caterpillar named Hermie, or comic vegetables, Adventures in Oddysey, or Archangels, or whatever. I've only scratched the surface here. If you don't have kids, take a stroll down the children's aisles at your local bookstore and you'll see what I mean. It offers an alternative, alright, to the trash on T.V. But is it okay to market Jesus and His message.

I've found that the more it is translated into entertainment, the more it loses its central meaning. Kids don't hear phrases like "take up your cross and follow me." They don't hear, "you must deny yourself," nor phrases like "repent of your sins." Some will reply that such phrases are not understandable by children today. True. So explain it to them. Their not stupid. Whatever happened to Christian entertainment in my days like the Davy and Goliath series. My kids have learned more core biblical elements from this claymation team than any other series we own (and I think we own just about all of them!). The reason lay behind the assumption that kids could understand biblical values using biblical terminology.

Gees! I don't want to sound so negative! But if we are to guard the good deposit of the gospel, and contend earnestly for the faith, it kinda makes it difficult to guard and contend when the message we are fighting for gets muddled and lost amid so much entertainment. That's why preaching and teaching are the primary means of learning the gospel, friends. Not entertainment, not concerts, not live adventures, or videos. Let's retrain our kids to sit and listen and learn from the preaching and teaching of God's Word so they can actually learn and live the gospel of Christ, and walk with Him. Otherwise, we will continue training them to not be able to concentrate and learn and listen to the gospel of Christ in the only way God ordained to communicate it. I'm not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but it seems to me that results of this kind of Christian entertainment for the next generation are almost too terrible to imagine!

What do you think?

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