Let me begin by stating that I am one of Big Idea's best customers. We have bought nearly every video they have ever published. (Even the weird Space Penguins.) We have about a half dozen Veggie Tales toys. We have two Veggie Tale video games and a couple of books. We even have five Veggie Tale CD’s. We plan to pre-order the next video as soon as it is available. The videos are funny, thought provoking and surprisingly accurate. We like the characters, the music and the concept. My kids and I really like Veggie Tales. In many ways Veggie Tales is the best of its class. Home School Curriculum seems like a helpful option.
However, I think there are some fundamental flaws in this material. The following criticisms take into account the genre of Veggie Tales. I have read their mission statement and understand they do not claim to be evangelical. However, there is a widespread assumption that these are “Christian” videos. They market their products as, “Sunday morning values, Saturday morning fun.” They use the Bible and conclude each episode with the declaration, “God made you special and he loves you very much.” Therefore, Big Idea is accountable to children, parents, churches and ultimately God for the content of their material. My purpose is to address some weaknesses in that material and urge parents not settle for only family values.
- Teaching morals with little reference to God himself causes confusion. This is an issue pervasive in our culture. As Christians our ultimate value is God himself. All subsequent values must be derived from His character and Word. Children must be taught the infinite worth of God himself as the center of all ethical values. “Right” and “Wrong” are meaningless categories without a God-centered view of life.
- Using the Bible only to teach moral lessons neglects the essential purpose of the Bible. Christians have always understood the Bible as God’s special revelation of his character and will. He is the central character of the Bible. Neglecting this reduces the Bible to a collection of inspirational life lessons.
- The goals of Big Idea do not account for humanity’s essential problem of sin. Their website states, “The irresponsible use of popular media (TV, film, music, etc.) has had a profoundly negative impact on America's moral and spiritual health . . . The best way to improve people's lives is to promote biblical values and encourage spiritual growth.” While it is true that irresponsible media has had a negative impact, the real problem of humankind is much deeper. We are separated from God by our sin. The whole of the humanity has fought against his all-good, all-wise, all-loving headship over creation. The way to improve people’s lives is to help them to be reconciled them to God, through Jesus Christ. When God’s grace changes people, He reorders their values and He causes spiritual growth. Better media is not the answer.
- Jesus is seldom mentioned in Veggie Tales. The only exceptions I know of are their Christmas and Easter videos. To be fair, Big Idea does not claim to be evangelical. We are told God loves us but not told how he loves us.
These faults are easily overcome by parental guidance. It is not Phil Vischer’s job to lead your little ones to Christ. It is not my goal to attack Big Idea, it may be only another fad. I want parents to evaluate all family media, children’s ministry and parenting advice according to a Biblical, Christ-exalting worldview.
As for my family, we will continue to buy from Big Idea. I said above that Veggie Tales is the best of its class. I would put it in the category of family appropriate entertainment. But as with similar media brands, we help our children to think like Christians. So we will enjoy the Veggies as cartoons but for the spiritual growth of my kids, family values are not enough.Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. Psalm 145:3-4