We asked What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer about his approach to the martyrdom of Jesus’ apostles in the book of Acts, which is the topic of the latest DVD in the series – Volume 11: Spreading the Good News [Book of Acts]. The DVD tells the story of Stephen, who was stoned for being a Christian. In fact, most of the apostles were eventually martyred as well. This is a tricky subject, but one that Vischer handles with grace.
“That sort of thing doesn’t get mentioned in a lot of kids bibles,” Vischer said of the stoning of Stephen and his inclusion of it in Volume 11. He mentioned that as one of reasons What’s in the Bible? is recommended for elementary-school-aged children and older, rather than younger. Vischer does not shy away from the tricky parts of the Bible – he addresses the killing of the citizens of Canaan, and the meaningless felt by the preach in Ecclesiastes, and now the stoning of Stephen and martyrdom of the apostles.
“When we pull of the bad news out of the Bible, when we pull more of the intense and frightening elements out of the Bible, we’ve radically changed its message,” Vischer said. Sharing the true message of the Bible is a key component of the What’s in the Bible? series, because it is important that we understand that bad things do happen in this world, but that God has a plan that extends beyond all the bad – a plan to restore His Kingdom to the way it was ended in the beginning, with no more sadness and no more tears.
As Vischer explained, “Stephen was stoned. Even as he was filled with the Holy Spirit, it didn’t keep him from dying … That tells us something huge about life with God – that it’s not a guarantee that nothing is going to wrong.”
The What’s in the Bible? series does not shy away from the stickier and scarier stories of the Bible. “When we edit out all of those parts … we’re painting an inaccurate picture of the world that is very dangerous for kids to grow up with.”
As Vischer concluded, he reiterated that What’s in the Bible? was written with elementary-schoolers in mind, because they have an understanding of good and bad in the world. And, “As soon as kids are old enough to be aware that bad things happen … they are ready for the real truth of the Bible,” Vischer said.