Saturday, March 22, 2008

Is Christ Inappropriate Content for Preschoolers?

Russell D. Moore writes about a Christian publisher (ironically named "Dare to Disciple") which decided to leave Easter out of its Sunday school curriculum because the crucifixion was "too graphic" and the resurrection "confusing":

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the Gospel. That's the first word. If we cannot speak of that, we would be better off not speaking of Jesus at all, rather than presenting another Christ, one who meditates but does not mediate, who counsels but is not crucified, who is accessible but not triumphant over sin and death.

The apostle Paul told us the word of the cross would be folly to those who are perishing (1 Cor 1:18). He didn't warn us that it would sometimes also be folly to those who are publishing. No matter. It is still the power of God

This Easter, preach the Gospel... to the senior citizens, to the middle-aged, to the young adults, to the teenagers, to the seekers, to the hardened unbelievers, to the whole world. And, yes, preach the Gospel to the preschoolers.

I'm not saying it won't be scary. The Gospel will disturb the children. And, if you understand it, it will disturb you too.

Hat tip to The Corner via Instapundit.


The Thief said...

This evening as I was trying to calm my 3 year old down enough for him to go to sleep (he was too excited about Easter coming tomorrow morning), I reminded him of why we celebrate Easter.

I didn't go into the "medical doctor's explanation of crucifixion" nor did I show him a private screening of "The Passion of the Christ" but I did remind him that Jesus died on a cross but we celebrate on Easter because he came back to life.

At 3 he doesn't understand the full implications of that, but at 36 and a seminary grad and pastor, I don't either... but that doesn't make it any less important.

Pastor Blue Jeans said...

Amen. At 41 I still am trying to "understand" the work of the cross. es I struggle to fully comprehend it but that does not diminish my love and wonder for the work of Jesus. It is a story that I want to tell every chance I get to kids of all ages.

It is the greatest story ever told for a reason.

~c. said...

I guess in the end, the publisher is right.

Eric Helms said...

I suppose we should take down all of the crosses--what is more confusing than a cross if we don't teach what role it played in Jesus' life.

The church I serve has a nursery school which proudly advertises that while the school is located in the church, we do not teach Christianity or Methodism in the school.

That is what confuses me. It seems death and resurrection is the kind of thing you can't sit on. If we really believe this stuff, shouldn't we be bursting at the seams to share it?

truevyne said...

Ah, John- My area of study- children's spiritual formation. So Moore was off, but he did understand something crucial. Children under six are not developmentally ready for the x-rated story of the suffering, crucified Christ. The words of the Mystery of Faith,death and resurrection not separated, can be planted in the young child. Children can explore the rich depths of the Death and Resurrection of Christ though Eucharist, the story of the Last Supper, a map of the city of Jerusalem in Jesus' day, an empty tomb, Easter liturgy celebration without the gore of the cross. Older children, six and up, have the capacity to read and explore the Passion Narratives built on the loving foundations mentioned above.

John said...

Good point, TrueVyne.

I remember a time when I was 5 and my family went to a Sears for some reason. We were in the electronics department, and I was looking at one of the TVs. All of the TVs were showing Star Wars, Episode IV. When Vader killed Obi-Wan Kenobi, I started screaming. I had never seen a person killed before, and it was terrifying. Now I'm unaffected by such televised violence.

We must remember that children are not adults, and educate accordingly.

JD said...

I did not share the "gory" details of the cross, but my 4 year old gets it. One thing that we don't do, that makes it easier to explain Easter and Christmas, is that we don't play up the whole bunny and santa thing. We don't get pictures, we don't do baskets that say, "From the Easter Bunny." It helps her understand a little better, so when the baskets, egg hunts, and presents come, they are the added bonus. She currently equates Easter with going to church, not the Easter Bunny. As she gets older, she should have a good enough foundation to be able to fully enjoy the rest of the "commotion" that comes with the secular side of these celebrations.


klh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
klh said...

Last week my 18 month old woke up from her nap saying, "Pezus! Pezus!" She jumped off of the bed and ran to a picture we have of Jesus rescuing a man drowning in the water. She pointed to Jesus, saying "Pezus!" "Jesus?" I asked, and she nodded and continued saying "Pezus! Pezus!" Then she pointed to the man drowning and, very deliberately and very seriously, said her name. I thought, "Of course she doesn't understand what she just said." But I couldn't help but wonder, where did she learn that?