I used to do the strangest thing during church services when I was a kid growing up in my home church of DeRidder, Louisiana. I made a regular habit of taking out the pew Bible during the sermon and reading the Old Testament stories that I thought were “cool.” I was fascinated by the biblical stories and their often stark portrayals of war, violence, and intrigue. I can remember reading about Amnon’s treachery against his half-sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13) and the 200 Philistine foreskins that David paid Saul so that he could become the king’s son-in-law (1 Samuel 18). Stories like these became my friends when I couldn’t get my little preteen brain to focus on the preacher’s sermon.
A conversation today with Dr. Russell D. Moore, guest lecturer at the Criswell College, reminded me of my childhood fascination with these stories. Dr. Moore explained how he thought the evangelical church in America tends to water down the blood and guts of the biblical story line. It’s not just the Veggie Tales who have transformed the blood-thirsty Ninevites into cute little creatures whose only sin is to slap each other around with cute little fish, but this kind of non-violent biblical revisionism happens every Sunday morning in children’s Sunday school classes in conservative churches all across America. As a result, most young boys grow up envisioning Jesus not as the warrior-King of the Gospels, but as the feminine looking “bearded lady” of the flannel graph. Dr. Moore argued that this trend reflects a feminization of the biblical story line that ultimately causes young boys to lose interest in the Gospel.
Dr. Moore has written a short essay on this topic titled, “Children’s Sunday School and the Battle for the Bible.” Dr. Moore is one of my favorite writers, and I regularly read his blog at http://www.henryinstitute.com/. Visit the website. Read it often. I’m certain he’ll become one of your favorites too.
“Children’s Sunday School and the Battle for the Bible” – by Dr. Russell D. Moore
Dr. Russell D. Moore is the Dean of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Kentucky. He also serves as executive director of The Henry Institute, a think-tank named after Carl F. H. Henry that is devoted to equipping churches and church leaders to engage the culture from a biblical worldview perspective.