The Jesus Story Book Bible is the best Christian educational material I’ve ever seen! No doubt at all. My wife and I have enjoyed reading it together before we fall asleep at night. We’ve given it away to lots of people now. This should be required reading for every Christian, I think. And I’m in good company. Tim Keller recommended the book to his congregation a few weeks ago (for young and old alike), which is something he rarely does.
I’m very curious about the author, Sally Lloyd-Jones. She lives in New York City, but is British. She attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church where Tim Keller is the pastor. I wonder if and how she is related to the Doctor, Martin Lloyd-Jones, hugely influencial in many of my heroes, including Keller.
This book is in sharp contrast with most everything available for children (and adults, for that matter) for Christian education. For example, Veggie Tales commonly (if not usually) interprets Bible stories in a decidedly non-Christian way. Usually, Jewish scholars would be very happy with the Veggie Tales lessons, and Buddhists would be very happy to show them to their children, for sure. Why? Because Jesus is not the hero of the stories. In the story of David and Goliath, for example, Veggie Tales tells us that we are to learn (and teach to our children) self-confidence because David was little, but he did a “big thing.” Basically, David trusted in God (who is bigger than Goliath), and so you should trust God just like David did. Be like David. Don’t be afraid. Trust God.
That’s a nice message, except that the focus is completly centered on me (or my child) rather than Jesus. If I have a problem, the answer is . . . I need to trust, or I need to have self-confidence, or I need to be like David, or whatever. Sally Lloyd-Jones has a completely different take. Hers is redemptive. It shows us Jesus in a way so that we instinctively trust him, we don’t need to be told.
C.S. Lewis advises young writers, “Don’t tell us that the fat lady went to the stage and sang. Instead, bring her on. Let’s hear her sing!” Keller tells young preachers, “Don’t tell me that God is beautiful. Describe God to me so that when I see him in your words, I will say with a hushed voice, ‘He’s so beautiful.'” [These are both paraphrases, not direct quotes] Sally Lloyd-Jones does it. I’m looking for a second volume to cover many great biblical stories missed in this first one.
Anyway, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
1. Have you read it yet?
2. If so, which story is best written?
3. Were there any surprises?
4. Why is this book so unique among Christian education materials? Or, Why are we so f%$# moralistic in our understanding of the Bible stories?