The blog at Touchstone Magazine reports on a publisher of Sunday school teaching materials who has scrubbed the Easter story of any mention of the crucifixion and resurrection, because it might be too scary for kids. A letter from the publisher explains their reasoning:
“In order to be sensitive to the physical, intellectual, and emotional development of preschoolers, First Look has chosen not to include the Easter story in our curriculum. Instead, we are focusing on the Last Supper, when Jesus shared a meal and spent time with the people He loved. We have made this choice because the crucifixion is simply too violent for preschoolers. And if we were to skip the crucifixion and go straight to the resurrection, then preschoolers would be confused.”
The curriculum marketers must know how bad this sounds, so they reassure the church they believe that the Gospel is for all people. Leaving out the cross and the resurrection is actually to help children come to Christ. They write, “We’re using these formative preschool years to build a foundation for that eventual decision by focusing on God’s love and telling preschoolers that ‘Jesus wants to be my friend forever.'”
The publishers note that there is an “alternate ending” to the kindergarten lesson that “tells a simple version of the Easter story” for older preschoolers, for those churches that want it. What kind of evangelical world do we find ourselves in when the Easter story is an “alternate ending” to the story of Jesus, at Eastertime?
Jesus wants to my friend forever? Who is this Jesus? And where is He? Apparently, He’s a Christ without a cross, without an empty tomb. He spends time with His friends, and loves us. Does knowing this, apart from the Gospel, actually prepare preschoolers to see themselves as sinners in need of a Mediator before a Holy God?
No, a Jesus who is not crucified, buried, and resurrected, does not save, and doesn’t help ease the way to salvation. Jesus as moral teacher, inspirational rabbi, or “forever friend” apart from the Gospel only prepares one for old-fashioned Protestant liberalism, the notion that what matters is that I’m civilized, ethical, and enculturated as a Christian. That’s not Christianity.
Couldn’t agree more. The story of Christ’s sacrifice is scary… to preschoolers and everybody else. But there’s a reason we call it the “Good News.”
Jesus didn’t come to be our cool cosmic buddy. He didn’t take the form of a man on earth so He could pat our heads and rub our bellies and tell us everything was going to be okay. He came to take our place on the cross, and then to conquer death, in a real, physical sense. That’s way cooler than some feel-good crap that makes the Son of God look like a character from Sesame Street.
Our society has fallen into the trap of “protecting” ourselves from a lot of hard truths, and unfortunately, many parts of the church (**cough!**Osteen!**cough!**) have gone right along with the trend. If we can count on anybody to be straight with us, it should be people who bring us the Word of God. If you work in Christian education and you think that some parts of the Gospel are too harsh for everyone, then I humbly encourage you to find another line of work.