Reviewing V.B.S. Literature
Donald P. Ames
After the poor selection that was offered last year, it is a real pleasure to report that all three VBS kits being reviewed this year are full of good material. The Guardian of Truth Foundation has decided not to bother with the Sweet Publishing Company material this year in view of the poor quality in previous years and the lack of orders for it. However, we have received the kits from Gospel Teacher, Quality and Lambert. I offer here my own personal evaluation of them for your consideration.
Gospel Teacher: "Standing On The Promises Of God"
Designed to build confidence and trust in God as One Who will keep His promises, this set is very impressive. It is attractively laid out, and the cut-outs are pre-stamped for the Nursery class so they can be easily removed by the kids in class. There is little emphasis on fun for the sake of fun, but rather more emphasis on learning - even in the lower grades. A list of all needed materials is contained at the beginning of each lesson to avoid the last minute search for something that might have been overlooked, and a number of songs that can be sung to popular tunes most of us are familiar with are included in the back of the nursery booklets.
It deals with God's promise to send the Savior and its fulfillment, to become our Father (upon obedience to the gospel), to provide for our needs (with some very good material to cause us to appreciate what He has given us needed badly in this age of material pursuits!), to build the church (and not a denomination), and that Christ will return (this has some excellent material in refutation to the false theory of premillennialism, the rapture, etc.) from about Juniors on up. An adult booklet is also included for those desiring an adult class too. You will not be disappointed in this set.
Quality Publishing Company: "My Jesus, I Will Live For Thee"
Quality's material is good in that it is designed for about 2/2 hours so that there is adequate material on hand for longer sessions (in case you are one of those who always get through too soon). It also has time allocations on the side of the page if you do not have the longer sessions so that you can adjust accordingly. Material for the lower classes is not pre-stamped, and a heavy part of the work is clearly on the teacher. Food (i.e., making orange juice, etc.) is part of the lower class activities, but can be dropped and not materially affect the lesson.
The material deals with our daily living as a Christian, and emphasizes the Christian living and loving, your influence, living at home, your living and your relationship with the church, and your living and getting along with others. Although it is still designed for use with the RSV, again special sections are included for use with the KJV also for those using that translation.
The adult class is built around the booklet by Neal Pryor, "You Can Trust The Bible," divided into five lessons, and totally independent of the other class studies. This booklet has some excellent material on how we got the Bible, why the extra Catholic books are not included, other pseudo books, confirmations of the Bible and refutation of later revelations. It also defends some modern translations (for those who think the KJV is the only inspired translation), and points out the history of translations. The NASB gets passing commendation, while a strong defense is made for the RSV and some of the short-comings of the KJV are pointed out in good taste. It does fail to even mention the perversions of the Living Bible Paraphrased at all, and while defending the over-all present day translations ("all have some bad in them - look for the good"), the Good News For Modern Man is again casually slipped in the list of acceptable (?) modern translations. One area I clearly felt was out of line was his effort to explain the inspiration of the Bible and some of the theories of how (this could have been stronger), and the inclusion of the following comments (p. 12):
The dictation theory would leave the impression that one day God said to Paul, "All right, Paul, get your pen out; today we are going to write I Corinthians. Start off now: `The apostle Paul. . ."' Paul writes. "To the church of God." "At Corinth." "How do you spell Corinth, Lord?" "C-o-r-i-n-t-h." Surely, this was not the way the Bible was written .... In fact, different levels of ability can be seen in the writing. Luke would probably get a grade of A; he is one of the best. Paul would get a B + . Some say that Hebrews could not have been written by Paul because it is in too polished a style for Paul. James is good; I Peter is good; but 2 Peter is not all that good. The epistles of John are in good style, but Revelation seems to have some grammatical errors in it (emphasis mine DPA).
It has some good material that can be helpful in creating respect for others and making us think of our example. Personally, though, I prefer the other two kits myself. Some might benefit also from the adult booklet in getting a background of how we got our Bible - even if not used for a V.B.S. class.
Lambert Publishing Company: "Does God Live At Your House?"
The material in this kit is strictly designed to improve the fading family relationship - to create a feeling of love and appreciation for one another, the proper fulfillment of our God-given roles, and to strive to restore the family unit again in society. It has some very excellent material in it especially in the teenage and adult booklets! Problems of rebellion, leadership, love and consideration for one another, as well as obedience to parents are well handled. Emphasis is placed on a home where God is (what is required for God to be seen in your home), agape love or what is really love, the role of the husband-father (and the failure of some men to properly fulfill that role), the role of the wife-mother (and the abuses some have taken in this relationship, or out of it), and the goal of surrendering our homes to God to make them the kind of homes He would have them to be.
It also includes the adult booklets (that would be a good class!), as well as the list of needed materials at the head of each lesson (as did the other two). The cut-outs for the lower grades are not pre-stamped, making a lot of work for the teacher. On the other hand, they are not difficult and are very appropriate to the lessons. Some good illustrations are used to make battling brothers and sisters pause and think of improving the family.
Again, we wish to stress that we are not trying to dictate which set of materials ought to be used - that each congregation is free to decide for themselves. However, it is hoped by such reviews to not only put the publishers on notice that their material will be analyzed publicly before usage for error, but also to point out such errors as they are discovered and to warn brethren. It is also hoped by such a review to help you in selecting which kit might lie more appropriate to your particular needs and interests. You can order your V.B.S. materials from the Guardian of Truth bookstore, Box 88, Fairmount, IN 46928 (1-800-428-0121).
Guardian of Truth XXV: 17, pp. 264-265