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Galbraith and Rauser - What's Wrong with Children's Bible Stories

Deane Galbraith takes justified aim at simplified and (semi) sanitised Children's versions of violent Bible stories. Although it is not just the incoherent violence but the theology of the book that worries me.

Is the suggestion here that if Goliath had asked God for help he might have won instead? This is not just a simplification, but an addition of a theme which is not present in the original and changes the meaning of the story altogether.

In a Trinities podcast Randal Rauser shares his shock at discovering the "Disney-fied" version of the Bible he grew up with and how much violence and sex the original contained (from the 23 minute mark).

It is a conundrum. Frequently people have given my children "Bible books" which are both Disney-fied and often theologically confused. Because they are generally rubbish compared to the high quality "secular" books also in the home, I don't worry too much, their attention soon wanders. The fact is the state of play in Christian children's publishing is of incredibly low quality. The Jesus Storybook Bible is a welcome change from the usual, while not perfect it is far higher quality both as a story book and theologically.

Deane is quite right that the toleration, consumption and dissemination of such crap is an indictment against (Western) Christianity. Randal is quite right that having young Christians growing up believing in a Bible they haven't read is a bad way to pass on the faith.

I'd like to see people reading the actual Bible with their children (although admittedly showing discretion depending on age and maturity). I think it would do them all good.

1. This would necessitate difficult conversations about sex and violence. Conversations many parents avoid until too late.
2. This would necessitate difficult conversations about the nature of scripture. The simple "God says it, I believe it" doesn't make any sense when you come to asking in what sense the rape of Dinah or the incest of Lot constitutes "God's word."
3. This would require parents to address their own ignorance of the content of scripture and its interpretation, suddenly sermons and Bible studies would not seem irrelevant to the day to day grind of parenting, "how am I going to answer little Johnny's questions about the Tower of Babel?" Pastors might have to buck up their game too, no more sticking to the safe/easy texts.
4. This would result in raising kids who were thoughtful readers of ancient (and modern) texts, whose faith might be a little more complicated and nuanced but who would not so easily lose it when faced with questions or doubts they hadn't heard before about bits of the Bible they hadn't read before.

Let me know what you think :-) 


  1. Good stuff, though I hope the examples in 2 are not used with younger children!

    Primary age children are capable of understanding quite complex ideas, being smarter and less prejudiced by previous rubbish (the theology of the page from the book you cite is so common teaching consumed avidly in Christian circles today) than older people.


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