I had the great pleasure of spending last week on the south end of Maui, near the town of Kihei, home of Calvary Chapel South Maui, Trinity By The Sea Episcopal Church, Hope Chapel, and Kihei Baptist Church, among no doubt a host of others. Unfortunately our smallest traveling companion went down for a nap just as we would have been heading out the door for church, so I was denied a chance to visit Kihei Baptist. If we had planned ahead we might have caught the early service at the eighteenth-century Congregationalist church near our hotel, but we (I) failed to do so on both accounts.
This week Kihei is holding Vacation Bible School, and they are using the prepackaged curriculum Truerassic Park [link], a product from TruthQuest Children’s Ministries. Here’s the breakdown from their website:
Children are then guided through the six days of creation from Genesis chapter one, pointing out the flaws with evolutionary theories and emphasizing the reliability of God’s Word.
Then, they’ll learn about dinosaurs, which were created along with humans on the sixth day of creation, and where dinosaurs are described in the Bible, again shooting holes in evolutionary theories.
Next, children learn about the great flood, which wiped out the dinosaurs that hadn’t been on the ark, and how the sin of mankind is ultimately responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, along with all death, pain and sorrow.
Finally, with the effects of sin clearly defined, you’ll present the solution for sin in a powerful presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
If you grew up in fundamentalist circles, as I did, the only part of this that’s news to you is the part I’ve bolded above: that dinosaurs were created on Day Six. Since some dinosaurs apparently lived in the sea and some flew in the air I think I’ve always assumed there were some created on Day Five. But never mind. If you’ve listened to e.g. Ken Ham recently the rest of the story probably sounds familiar: Paul the Apostle’s description of what we call today Original Sin in Romans 5:12
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: [link]
is being repurposed to mean that there were no animal deaths before the Fall. I honestly don’t know if it’s nit-picky or not to point out that the passage in Romans isn’t about the fate of animals before the Fall; it’s about redemption, and the death that passes to all men is spiritual death, not physical death, and the Scriptures are silent on whether animals have spirits, etc.
I wonder what becomes of kids who become Christians at Vacation Bible School generally, and I especially wonder what becomes of kids whose faith is founded at least in part by programs like Truerassic Park. I wonder how many of them follow the expected pattern, who cling to the historicity of the Genesis Creation narrative because they fear they will lose their salvation if they doubt it, and I wonder how many end up thinking the Gospel itself is cartoonish because they learned about it from a cartoon dinosaur. It’s a long way from Vacation Bible School to adulthood, and I wonder how many kids who are exposed to programs like this make it with their faith intact.
I hesitate to mention at a point like this that when I’m faced with this sort of interpretive practice that I wonder if they don’t put the cart before the horse. I believe the Scriptures are in some sense true because I’m a Christian; I’m not a Christian because I believe the Bible is in some sense true. And I wonder if children are well-served by argumentation that runs the other way.
I had a chance on this trip to read a chunk of Fisher Humphreys’s 1994 book The Way We Were, a catalog of majority and minority positions within the Southern Baptist Convention circa 1979, and I have to admit the late-Seventies discussion within the SBC on inerrancy has been much on my mind, and that may have colored my reading of the billboard outside Kihei Baptist. Then again, maybe not.