…two Tales about Jesus, that is.
For those involved in homeschooling (especially of the “classical” variety), antique educational materials have a certain cachet — a certain stamp of authority. It is with such an expectation that I approached Charles Dickens’ The Life of Our Lord: Written for His Children During the Years 1846 to 1849. I was shocked to find nothing inside but liberal moralism. As evidence, I pick two extraordinary quotes from the plethora available. On page 2, Dickens has the angels announcing to the shepherds:
There is a child born to-day in the city of Bethlehem near here, who will grow up to be so good that God will love Him as His own Son.
What? I thought Jesus was co-eternally the Son of the Father! On the last page of the book, Dickens defines Christianity thusly (his own capitalization):
Remember! — It is Christianity TO DO GOOD always… If we do this, and remember the life and lessons of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and try to act up to them, we may confidently hope that God will forgive us our sins and mistakes, and enable us to live and die in peace.
So the ground of or forgiveness is the sincerity of our effort?
Some might argue that little kids can’t handle and don’t need doctrinal details. To that I would say; as I read this book to my kids (at least the first few chapters before I gave up), every page or so I had to stop and add qualifications or corrections. Those additional words I used were understood by my kids, so I’m sure they would have been understood by Dickens’ kids, and he obviously had the artistic skill to write them better than I could say them.
And so it was with the taste of Dickens in my mouth that I was awaiting The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones (no relation) which Aunt Barb had said she was sending the boys for Christmas — eagerly awaiting, because Barb knows books. Instead of trying to express how much better this book is by talking about it, it would be much simpler to just give a big, juicy quote from the first story:
Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.
Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.
No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne — everything — to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come to true in real life!
You see, the best thing about this Story is — it’s true.
There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle — the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend. This is the Child who would one day — but wait. Our story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning…
See, now you want to buy a copy and read it to your kids!