Veggie Tales creator: “[I convinced] kids to behave Christianly without teaching them Christianity.”

When was the last time you heard a prominent name in Christian circles say something like this:

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.

[“It’s Not About the Dream,” WORLD magazine, Sep 24, 2011, 57-58]

(hat tip: A Twisted Crown of Thorns)

Well, those words belong to none other than Phil Vischer, one of the co-creators of the wildly popular Veggie Tales™ enterprise. And as hard as those words must have been for Mr. Vischer to say, they are rather refreshing to hear. For so long now, we (and many others) have been lamenting the fact that modern-day (what passes for) Christianity has become nothing more than fodder for itching ears and a dumbed-down, candy-coated morality–with a touch of Jesus on the side.

But Christianity–true, genuine, Christianity (or, more appropriately, the submission of one to the Lordship of Jesus Christ)–is not just “good behavior.” That is what is known as “salvation by works.” And Jesus taught that simply “good behavior” is not the same as salvation. Matthew 5:46-47“46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?”

The apostle Paul encouraged the church at Ephesus that they no longer had to go about trying to earn enough gold stars and smiley faces before God would accept them–rather, they were saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone–not by piling up brownie points with God. Ephesians 2:8-98 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. And Mr. Vischer nailed this point, and sent a stinging rebuke to the watered-down, man-centered, crossless “Christianity” that is flooding the American landscape:

American Christian[s]… are 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… We’ve completely taken this Disney notion of ‘when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true’ and melded that with faith and come up with something completely different. There’s something wrong in a culture that preaches nothing is more sacred than your dream. I mean, we walk away from marriages to follow our dreams. We abandon children to follow our dreams. We hurt people in the name of our dreams, which as a Christian is just preposterous.

We can only pray that the many purpose-driven churches that dot the American countryside would examine themselves as closely as Mr. Vischer, and rather than worrying about putting Christ back in Christmas, they would put more emphasis on putting Christ back in their messages.

14 thoughts on “Veggie Tales creator: “[I convinced] kids to behave Christianly without teaching them Christianity.”

  1. Wow! That’s most interesting, considering how often I’ve heard Veggie Tales used as an example how NOT to teach your children. Hoping in Christ for the best.

  2. abidingthroughgrace says:

    Amen, Fourpointer. Sadly the American church can be described as the “Veggie Tales Church”. A lot of morality without the Cross as you point out. Cross-less Christianity is an epidemic on both sides of the fence. On one side the liberal, emergent, everyone has a story is deficient in the Cross of Christ. While on the other side legalism, doism, behavior based justification is Cross-less Christianity as well.

    -atg

  3. So is Mr. Vischer, along with admitting what he has done, going to change the way he makes the shows or what exactly is he saying?

    Let me add, I agree completely that the message is watered down like kool-aid at a church picnic…I agree with you fourpointer…I guess I just get confused as to if Mr. Vischer is saying he was wrong and going to change future behavior (even though what he said was done in 2011)…or is he emphasizing the fact that parents should *not* use Veggie Tales to teach their children (which I hope parents would already know…)?

  4. DonnaJ says:

    To me, Veggie Tales was/is a peppy, fun, clean set of stories/videos for the whole family. My 7 children all loved vt and still do ~ they are now ages 16-28. We never used it as a substitution for Bible teaching ~ just a fun entertainment in which we didn’t have to worry about the language, situations, political correctness, etc.

  5. What a great quote:

    “American Christian[s]… are 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… We’ve completely taken this Disney notion of ‘when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true’ and melded that with faith and come up with something completely different. There’s something wrong in a culture that preaches nothing is more sacred than your dream. I mean, we walk away from marriages to follow our dreams. We abandon children to follow our dreams. We hurt people in the name of our dreams, which as a Christian is just preposterous.”

    I would also add the American Christian’s love affair with politics to the cocktail that Phil Vischer described.

    Also, Fourpointer, you hit the nail on the head as well:

    “We can only pray that the many purpose-driven churches that dot the American countryside would examine themselves as closely as Mr. Vischer, and rather than worrying about putting Christ back in Christmas, they would put more emphasis on putting Christ back in their messages.”

  6. Katy,

    According to the article, Vischer and Nawrocki sold the Veggie Tale brand when it went bankrupt in 2003, and they no longer have creative control. As far as your other questions, I cannot answer them as I do not have that information.

  7. Linda says:

    That’s a very powerful God convicting statement Mr. Vischer made.

    I’d think that well, when I was growing up as a kid my brothers and I were taught morals and values –not to be confused with Salvation.I was taught manners and the basic principles of following rules. All children need to be taught rules and manners in life. We also need to teach them the truth of the Gospel. My mother took us to Church and we were taught the gospel there since my Dad was not a Christian. So I had morals and the gospel.

    I think of the law that is a schoolmaster before we are saved. We are taught the law of right and wrong and held PRISONERS just like Galatians says–Gal 3:22-25 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.:Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ [fn] that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”

    We are –especially Fathers to bring our children up in the “fear and admonition of the Lord”-Eph.6:4b.

    So I would like to ask, did the veggie tales do any of that?
    I don’t know because I didn’t watch them really –maybe a couple of stories for my son like parables would be…

  8. I wonder how many folks will read this and think to themselves, yeah… my church really doesn’t teach Christ. It teaches watered down moralistic Christianity and I really don’t like it. I further wonder if those who actually do think this will then say to themselves, “I must leaved and go find a church that teaches Christ and Him crucified for us.” There is no real way to answer these questions of course, but I hear a lot folks diagnose what is wrong with American Christianity, but few folks who indicate they are willing to approach their pastors and elders and speak their minds on what they are willing to write about online.

  9. Mickey Merrie says:

    How about they teach Christ and we crucified! Can’t receive a crown without your crucifixion!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s