1 Star: Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones

I thought this was going to be the greatest bible book for children on earth. I bought it to read to my nephew and niece because it is so important to me that they grow up knowing and loving God. I thought the author might be related to the famous Martin Lloyd Jones and I saw this book recommended from a Reformed Booksite, so I loved this book before I even read it. But once I read it, I was completely floored by its teachings. It is probably the biggest disappointment of any book I've ever read. It's completely the opposite of what I expected.

#1 or #2 goal of most Christian parents = saved Christian kids. This book works against this goal. Before you read my review, understand why I disagree with this book and believe it destroys the holiness of God and leads our children towards a worldly unsaved life, rather than a strong conviction of who God is and who man is - a sinner in need of Christ. I believe God is INFINITELY powerful, glorious, intelligent, all-knowing and sovereign. Nothing can happen that could defeat God, or He would not be God. He would then only be "a god", but the thing that beat him or defeated Him would also be "a god" if it could outsmart an infinite god. You would have God and Satan as two equal gods, which is not Christianity, it is called Dualism. For God to really be God, He must always get His way 100% of the time. After all, if he is INFINITELY superior to all creation, nothing could ever beat Him, outsmart Him, or make God come up with a Plan B. God NEVER had a Plan B. Everything that happens is in His Plan A.

We all want our children to be saved, right? How do we get saved? Humans must come to realize their need for God, or we will always seek satisfaction in the world. Until we finally realize how utterly unworthy we are, how lost in sin we are, and how much we can't ever stop sinning on our own, we will never need God. When we finally die to ourselves, giving up our self-righteous deeds and efforts to earn our way into heaven, we will fall broken and humble. This is when we can fall on our knees and turn to God and He will change us. If we love the world and ourselves more than God, we will never turn to Him. So, when we read a book to our kids, we need to make sure the book is not "puffing up the child's self-will, self-esteem, and pride" but instead painting a great, grand picture of how holy God is and how undeserving we are. It is this view that will lead our children to see the need for God and lead them to rely on Him for salvation.

This book destroys God from being infinitely holy and worthy of our worship and adoration. This book also destroys our view that we are unworthy, but instead makes children feel like we are holding all the cards and it is this weak, pathetic, wimpering god that is begging us to love him back. Few of our children will ever find Christ with this perspective. Read below my direct quotes from this book and see my explainations as to why these claims aren't true.

- Pg 1 First sentence "God wrote "I love you" - he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea." *****PROBLEM: The author immediately paints a picture that God loves "you" and is telling this to all people through creation. Who are the "you"? ALL CHILDREN. ALL PEOPLE. What about the unbelieving ones? This book says God loves those too! What about the sinning ones? The murdering ones? The evil ones? Well, this book just gives us a blanket statement "God loves you" whoever you are, regardless of who you are, despite who you are. Now, technically, I believe this is true. BUT the problem is that God can say "I love you" to the believers who go to heaven. But God can also say "I love you" to the believers who go to hell. But God's loving you isn't what keeps you out of hell or gets you to heaven. But to a child (and even most of us adults), this statement implies that because God loves you "you will go to heaven." But that's not the truth. This sentence is the theme of this entire book and it is completely misleading. Did Jesus EVER tell the unbelievers "God loves you?" No. That's because, although it may be true, it's not going to get anyone to realize their need of a savior.

- 2 "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."
- 4 "The Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of hereoes. The Bible is most of all a Story." *****PROBLEM: Suddenly, the author destroyed the real purpose of the Bible and turned it into a big story. Unfortunately, this "the Bible is just a story" like has become a very popular claim of non-Christians to destroy the authority of the Bible. If the Bible is a story, it loses it's application purposes and we aren't as obligated to take it so seriously anymore. It's just a guide, after all. It's just like all my other story books. Many of the top athiests use this argument.

- 4 "All the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them." *****PROBLEM: Again, this makes God weak and needy of our human love. We need to teach our children about the holiness of God. The awesomeness! The grandness! God isn't just INFINITELY PERFECT, He's infinitely, infinitely, infinitely perfect! He isn't just good. He's good plus more good, plus the greatest good that could ever be conceived and then even 10 times greater than that! And then 1000 times that! Then a trillion times that! God is SOOOO BEYOND even the word "Good"! It is only through holding God up as an awesome, amazing, powerful, all wise God, that humans will begin to worship Him. Why would we worship a weak God? We worship what is WORTHY OF WORSHIP. The reason we don't worship God or worship Him poorly is because we don't see God as ALL THAT GREAT. Try taking the best most holy character traits and magnifying them as 10 times your best image of them. Then multiply that times 1 million times that! You can't even conceive it! But if we can see the grandest view of God, our worship will be true and natural. This is what our kids need. A holy, lofty infinitely glorious view of God.

- 5 "And at the center of the Story, there is a baby." "This is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend." *****PROBLEM: Author lowered God to a fussy baby. Weak, powerless infant. He was only a baby for a year or two! If God wanted us to elevate a baby, the Bible would have been written as 27 books on the baby Jesus. No, the Bible was written about THE MAN Jesus! A full grown, powerful, glorious man with the fullness of God inside him. Now that is awesome! Not a weak helpless baby.

Then it switches to the Genesis story:
- 6 "In the Beginning, there was nothing. Only emptiness. And darkness. And... nothing but nothing. But God was there." *****PROBLEM: The author writes that there was nothing. Oh, but then tacks on at the end "I forgot to mention God happened to be there." No! This causes damage to God. It should be "God was ALL THERE WAS! The earth was not yet. There was nothing there! It should not be "Nothing was all there was. Oh, but God on the side." The author is putting God inside the box of creation. The author puts God inside the darkness, inside the physical universe, as if God lived on a planet or something. No, God is spirit and outside of time, earth, and the physical world. The creator is greater than the creation! The creation should not come first.

- 6 Like a mommy bird flutters her wings over her eggs to help her babies hatch, God hovered over the deep, silent darkness. He was making life happen." *****PROBLEM: Huh? Comparing God to a bird. That's insulting. A mother bird warms and shields her eggs under her wings. God was not "warming and shielding" the deep under a wing. He was creating!

- 7 "God said, "Hello light!" and light shone into the darkness. "You're good," God said." *****PROBLEM: Notice God did not create the light? He said "hi" to the light. The author has removed God as the creator. Now he's just an observer. Notice that God no longer declares or pronounces or makes this creation good, but observes it is good.
- 7-8 "The God said, "Hello sea! Hello sky!" "Hello land!" "Hello trees!" "Hello grass and flowers!" "Hello stars! Hello sun! Hello moon!" *****PROBLEM: The author removed the creation days, allowing for the possibility of an evolutionary millions of years. And again, God is no longer the creator but just the observer, noticing these things.
- 10 "God saw all that he had made and he loved them." *****PROBLEM: Now, finally, the author acknowledges that God made these things. But his glory and name has already been reduced because the credit for the creation was taken away from him in all the prior pages. This final summary is tacked on at the end but its weight is not at all similar to "God created the earth." "God created the animals." It's more like "God said hi to the animals. Then at the end, "Oh, God made them." The impact is not at all the same.

- 10 "He would make people to share his Forever Happiness." "Forever Happiness?" What's that? Heaven on earth? Life with Christ/God? But not everyone is going to share His "Forever Happiness". What about those who end up in eternal torment? "He would make people" but apparently not ALL people "share his Forever Happiness".

- 11 "So God breathed life into Adam and Eve." *****PROBLEM: Notice again, the author did not say that God created them. Adam being created from the earth is removed. Eve being created from Adam is removed.
- 11 "And when God saw them he was like a new daddy, "You look like me!" he said. "You're the most beautiful thing I've ever made!" *****PROBLEM: Again, the author is praising man for man's greatness! We need to be praising God, not man. We need to get off our egos, our pride, our selfishness, our self-esteem, self-worth and be God-centered, God-focused, God-esteeming!

On to the story of the fall:
- 13 "God had a horrible enemy. His name was Satan." *****PROBLEM: The author paints Satan as "God's enemy" or as a co-equal god. This is Dualism, not Christianity. In reality, God is an infinitely powerful God and Satan is just like an ant under God's shoe. God created Satan. Any moment He wanted, God could go "poof!" and Satan would be destroyed. Satan is no match for God. But this sentence makes Satan seem powerful.

- 13 "Satan was seething in anger and looking for a way to hurt God. He wanted to stop God's plan, stop this love story, right there. So he disguised himself as a snake and waited in the garden." *****PROBLEM: This sentence sets it up in the readers mind that Satan CAN hurt God. That Satan CAN stop God's plan and make God go find a Plan B. But this is false. Even Satan's plans and attempts to ruin things for God STILL fit into God's Plan A. God never has to go to a Plan B. This was God's plan all along - to include Satan and all Satan and man's sinfulness in the redemption story of Jesus Christ.

- 14 "As soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve, "Does God really love you?" the serpent whispered. "If he does, why won't he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit? Poor you, perhaps God doesn't want you to be happy." *****PROBLEM: Again, the author turns the fall into a question of God's love for man. The fall was NEVER about whether or not God loved man. It was about whether or not man would OBEY God and worship God and LOVE God back. God has always loved man and taken care of man. It is man (just like Satan), who rejected God and fell in his own desire to take God's place on the throne. Man wanted to make his own choices and be his own god. The author misses the entire point of Christianity and the entire need for salvation! God is not saving us BY PROVING HE LOVES US and convincing us that He loves us. No! That's not Christianity at all. That's man's false Christianity that allows man to stay on the throne! In fact, it makes God the weaker being in need of man's love so much that God must grovel for man's love. And man, being the powerful god, in man's mercy of God, will believe God and accept God. But Christianity is about God accepting a fallen man! It's not the story of man accepting God, even though we in our feeble minds sometimes thing the world revolves around us. We need God! God doesn't need us. God loves us whether we go to heaven or hell. Doesn't matter. The question of "does God love me" was never ever ever the issue. It's "Will man obey God and love God." Jesus NEVER begged anyone to believe that Christ loved them. He told them that THEY are to "Love God with all your mind and heart"

- 14 "Does God love me, Eve wondered. Suddenly she didn't know anymore." *****PROBLEM: This is NOT why Adam and Eve fell. They both knew God loved them. Firstly, the Bible teaches us that Eve was tricked. Adam, knowing 100% better, chose to DISOBEY God. Man thought he was wiser than God and wanted to take His throne or place. Man fell out of disobedience, not out of doubting love. Man fell out of pride, saying to himself "I am smarter and superior than God." It is the same reason Satan fell. Pride! This book encourages pride in children! It elevates man and lowers God in nearly every single sentence!

- 14 "And a terrible lie came into the world. It would never leave. It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God's children: "God doesn't love me." *****PROBLEM: This is not the lie. The lie was "Man could eat the apple and be wiser than God! That God was wrong about the apple!" The lie isn't that God doesn't love man. The lie is that man doesn't need God!!!

- 17 "A terrible pain came into God's heart." "He knew everthing else would break. God's creation would start to unravel, and come undone, and go wrong. From now on everything would die - even though it was all supposed to last forever." *****PROBLEM: The author just painted the picture that things in the world happened against God's will and wishes and power. God was powerless to stop them. They crumbled around Him. It weakens the human's perception of God. Suddenly, God is not all-powerful, all-wise. He got tricked. His purposes were ruined by Satan and man! This is completely false. If we read the NT, we will see that the redemption story was planned from all eternity. This is why Jesus Christ is the ETERNAL son of God. He didn't just become the son of God to plop down on earth, take on a human body, then go back up and mold back into God. Ephesians 1:4 "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." Acts 4:27-28 "this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." Ac 2:23 "this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." 1 Pe 1:20 "He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you" Luke 22:22, Acts 13:27-33, and more.

- 20 "God loved his children too much to let the story end there. Even though he knew he would suffer, God had a plan - a magnificent dream. One day, he would get his children back." *****PROBLEM: God would get his children back. Which children? Not all the children will believe, so either God didn't do a very good job getting his children back (a weak view of God) or God never mean to get all them back. The truth is that not all will be saved and so God never planned from the foundation of the earth that all would be saved. If he had planned for all to be saved, all he had to do was go "poof" to Satan and no one would have fallen in the first place. The redemption story was planned from the beginning and so was the means through Satan and man's fall. But this sentence makes it seem like God couldn't do what he planned to do. When the truth is that God DID and IS doing exactly what He wanted all along. The error was in man's assuming he knew God's plan. So we think God made an error. God never made an error. God always had this ONE plan from the beginning. If God didn't want this, He had the power to change it at any time.

- 20 "You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children - with a Never Stopping, Never Give Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love." *****PROBLEM: What about the ones that go to eternal torment? Again, this makes children believe in Universalism - the belief that ALL people will be saved. This is not what is taught in the Bible.

On to the New Testament:
- "It had taken centuries for God's people to be ready, but now the time had almost come..." *****PROBLEM: This is the false teaching that God had to wait for man to be ready to receive Jesus Christ. This is a prevelant teaching among today's tv evangelists of the Word Faith cult. It makes God dependent upon man. "God needs man to allow God to work in the world" is the false teaching. This sentence supports that teaching. And so does the two beginning sentences on the following page: "EVERYTHING WAS READY. The moment God had been waiting for was here at last!" Yes, it was in all caps! It teaches children falsely that God had to wait until this time due to man not being ready. The truth was God planned this time all along and ordained everything to be just as it was. God is in control. He isn't dependent upon man.
- "There was a young girl who was engaged to a man" PROBLEM: "A girl" not a "young woman" is matched to "a man". The implication is not good.
- "This girl was minding her own business when suddenly a great warrior of light appeared - right there in her bedroom." PROBLEM: Yikes! Angels appearing in a girls bedroom is not a good picture. Today, it is a very very prevelant claim of several Pentecostal authors, Course In Miracles teachers, alien abductees, and pagan spiritualists that "beings of light come into a person's bedroom" and these beings go by names like "Jesus" "Michael" "Seth" "George" or aliens. These are demons and not Jesus Christ or angels! This sentence leaves room for this teaching. In the Bible in Luke chapter 1, it says that an angel came to see Mary but NOTHING is said about it being in her bedroom or even where this meeting took place.
- "So [God] pulled out all the stops. He'd sent an angel to tell Mary the good news. He'd put a special star in the sky to show where his boy was." PROBLEM: Not true. Nowhere in the Bible does God tell Mary about the star. The first mention of the start is when the wisemen see it and this is when Jesus is declared "a child" and no longer "a baby". It is assumed Jesus was about 2 years old at this time.
- [This book also teaches incorrectly that there were THREE wisemen (the Bible doesn't tell how many there were)
- "The three Wise Men (actually, if you'd met them, you'd have thought they were kings because they were so rich and clever and important looking) set off." PROBLEM: The Bible never says any of this.

The book has a chapter called "How to pray":
- "In those days there were some Extra-Super-Holy People (at least that's what they thought), and they were called "Pharisees"." PROBLEM: Notice the author doesn't explain why the Pharisees were wrong: they were trying to get saved through self-righteous works. Actually, the author doesn't even really say the Pharisees were not holy. They were sinful on the inside and hypocritically fake holy/pure on the outside. Their good deeds were only external. Children should be taught that it is the inside that counts, but the author implies the opposite.
- "People walking by would stop and stare, which might sound rude - except that's exactly what the Extra-Super-Holy People wanted. They wanted everyone to say, "Look at them. They're so holy. God must love those people best." PROBLEM:
- "Now you and I both know they were wrong - God doesn't just love holy people." PROBLEM: The author implies that these holy people were accepted and loved by God for their holy works! This is incorrect. God rejected them for their external holy works and told them to look at their inner hearts to see how evil they actually were! In fact, in the Bible, God despises holy people for trying to work or earn their way into eternal life. We get to heaven by realizing how unworthy we are, not how holy and worthy we are. These are fake holy people and the author should have portrayed it like this.
- The Lord's prayer is written like this: "Hello Daddy! We want to know you. And be close to you. Please show us how. Make everything in the world right again. And in our hearts, too. Do what is best - just like you do in heaven. And please do it down here too. Please give us everything we need today. Forgive us for doing wrong, for hurting you. Forgive us just as we forgive other people when they hurt us. Rescue us! We need you. We don't want to keep running away and hiding from you. Keep us safe from our enemies. You're strong, God. You can do wahtever you want. You are in charge. Now and forever and for always! We think you're great! Amen! Yes we do!" PROBLEM: God had been brought down to the place of an imaginary invisible friend. Children and adults are taught not to revere, respect or to admire and worship a holy holy HOLY infinitely HOLY God. He is no longer grand and awesome. He's just like your invisible imaginary pal. The Bible's prayer starts of giving reverence to God "Blessed be your name" "Your will be done" shows we trust God's ways and His will and want His will done and not our own wills done. "Give us our daily bread" shows that we acknowledge every good thing is from God. Even our daily food and needs are provided by God.

I could go on, but I hope readers get the point. This book destroys the awesomeness of God and turns Him into a weak imaginary friend who asks the child to "do this or be that" and the child will then listen to the advice of their "friend" and dismiss them anyway. This view of God has no power. This weak god is nothing that man should worship him. But OUR GOD is AWESOME, POWERFUL and AMAZING! If we teach children of the REAL God who created the bazillion stars in the night sky and created the Grand Canyon and Hawaii and the oceans and the intricate human eye etc, then they will worship him in their hearts, seeing how valuable He really is.

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm.... I see your point on a lot of these quotes/problems in this book.
    At the same time I reviewed this book and I loved it for the poetic retelling of key Bible stories, and how the selected stories weave together to reveal the purpose of sending Jesus to save us.
    I have no big issue with the use of the word "stories" as there are TRUE stories and FICTIONAL stories and I will be teaching my children the difference between the two.
    I feel like perhaps some of the "poetic/lyrical" elements of the book are what you take issue with - I guess I feel like parents have to be WISE to expand/explain this to their children - for example God being like a bird - well the Bible does say that He covers us with his wings, and talks about being like the hen protecting her nest (I think in Isaiah or another major prophet).
    Anywho - I am NOT writing to argue with you in the least - I love the brutal honest and details you use! As I started out saying, you make some really good points I had not considered when I reviewed the book. And having read your review, I have some new thoughts and a better idea of how to "present" the reading of this text to my children so they don't take it the wrong way.
    The bottom line for me, though, is I use this book as a "storybook" but our doctrine and theology will not come from a children's book but from the Word. :)
    Nice to stumble across your blog by the way! :)

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