The Bible Story - Volume I
Never has there been a Bible story book like this. That is not a rash statement indulging in superlatives. It is the truth. I would like to explain the reason .
For years, in my ministry, I felt an overpowering sense of responsibility, mingled with a feeling of inadequacy, for getting the proper teaching to children. It was a frustrating consciousness, for my time was so completely filled in the ministry to adults.
I picked up many of the run-of-the-mill type of Bible stories for children. They failed utterly to solve the problem. I could not endorse or press into use anyone of them. They seemed to have only one objective — to compete with exciting fiction of violence which youngsters heard on radio, later on television, and read in cheap novels or comic books. They consisted of dramatized blood-and-thunder stories of certain Biblical incidents. The murder of Abel by his brother, Cain; the cataclysm of the flood; young David killing the giant Goliath; the seducing of strong — man Samson; Daniel in the lions' den; all these disconnected stories, shorn of their real meaning, degraded the Bible in plastic young minds to the level of nursery myths like Jack killing the giant by cutting down the beanstalk.
Bible stories up to now, it would seem, have had no mission but that of pro viding exciting entertainment. Biblical incidents are taken out of context, their real connection with the very PURPOSE of life ignored.
I knew that all these incidents commonly seized upon as exciting child-fiction material actually have deep meaning, contain vital lessons, are directly connected with the revelation of God's purpose and the true Gospel. But if the true Gospel of Jesus Christ has been hidden from adults by perversion, deception, and injection of pagan superstitions, how could blinded adults write interestingly for children the vital truths they themselves do not comprehend?
There was an even more important reason for this sense of responsibility to ward children.
In my research into the history of education, the truth emerged of the diabolical master — conspiracy for deceiving the whole world. This world — deception has been accomplished through the system of education. It begins with infants and children of elementary school age. Long before Christ brought the Gospel, the pagan multiple-deity-worshipping Plato introduced the first school of organized curriculum, called the Academy. The system developed with passing generations. In the era of Christianity's earliest appearance, the Roman Empire was dotted with these pagan schools.
These schools taught pagan philosophies and ways of life diametrically opposite to Christ's teachings. Participation in pagan holiday exercises, and pagan customs, was a required part of the curriculum.
During first — century apostolic evangelism, many converts received into their very hearts the eye-opening Gospel TRUTH and rejected the pagan heresies. They were truly converted — changed , in mind and belief and ways of living. But their children were victims of the established system of education. A second generation became nominal Christians only. A third , reared in basic paganism, accepted the addition of certain Christian beliefs and the NAME of Christ.
It was impossible for church leaders, during the second, third and fourth centuries, to set up real Christian schools. The printing press had not been invented. There were no textbooks except the pagan texts . And by that time even the church leaders them selves were largely the victims of the secular paganized education.
One crux factor dominates this entire educational process — always has. The child is not graded on ability to prove whether the teaching is true or false . He is graded on willingness to accept without question, memorize and absorb whatever is taught. Educators have , as Pau l wrote, been reluctant to retain God in the knowledge they disseminated ( Romans 1: 28) .
The new-born infant knows nothing at birth. Humans must learn and be taught. Born in a predominately paganized world , the infant is taught from birth in the customs and ways of society. It would never occur to him to question them. They are simply absorbed — taken for granted — accepted.
This educational system produced the natural and inevitable falling away from original TRUTH, as instituted by Christ. This "mystery of iniquity" was already working to undermine the faith once delivered, even in the Apostle Paul's day (II Thessalonians 2: 7). By the time Jude wrote , he was inspired to exhort sincere people to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered (Jude 3) . Already the apostacy had set in.
It became fashionable to belittle original TRUTH with the epithet "primitive Christianity." Succeeding generations were told that they were advancing from the "primitive." They were — into the darkness of superstition and error. More and more the pagan beliefs and customs were accepted into a professing organized Christianity. It still carried on its label the NAME of Christ. They still professed, as Jesus Himself foretold (Matthew 24:5), that Jesus was the Christ, and thereby deceived the many.
The "Reformation" failed to reform by getting back to the faith once delivered. It threw off the shackles of papal political authority. It rejected some of the pagan teachings and rites while clinging to others. It restored some portions of original truth, while at the same time adding new errors of its own.
Today's children are born into a confused, mixed-up, divided religious babylon. The hundreds of organized religious denominations and sects cannot agree on what the Gospel is; on who or what God is; on whether Christ was human, divine, or both; whether there is a devil; what salvation is; what or where the reward of the "saved" shall be; or how one may obtain it. Each one seems to take for granted whatever brand of religious belief has been taught him from childhood.
In such a world there is little or no Biblical teaching in the schools. They have eliminated God from the knowledge they inject into unsuspecting and immature minds.
It is ten times more difficult to unlearn error than to learn TRUTH. This, then, is the dilemma that challenged me : children, still today, are being reared in the same old secular pagan philosophies and customs, with the addition of the so-called "scientific approach" that has arrived with the acceptance of the theory of evolution. This atheists' attempt to explain the presence of a creation without the existence of a Creator has become the basic concept by which all causes, origins, and purposes are explained. By the time these innocent children have been inoculated with this anti — God poison and reached maturity, most of them have too much to UN learn before their minds can ac cept original truth. An inborn prejudice has been set up. And prejudice is an absolute barrier to the entrance of TRUTH into the mind.
But what could I do about it?
Children need, as they need life itself, an awareness of the basic TRUTHS of the Bible as they are growing uP! If only we could get to them the knowledge of God — of the Creator and His vast creation — of His authority and rulership over the creation He brought into being and now sustains — of the invisible yet inexorable spiritual laws He set in motion to regulate relationships and produce happiness, peace and every thing good — of the knowledge that the Bible definition of sin is simply the transgression of these laws operating for our good — of the basic knowledge of God's purpose being worked out here below, and of His plan for working it out — of the Biblical revelation of Christ, and what He means to us today — of the vital connection of case histories, incidents, experiences so often seized upon as material for the "blood and thunder" type "Bible Stories" with God's over-all purpose, and with the Gospel — if only growing children could be possessed of this knowledge, they would not be deceived and misled by the teaching of the secular school systems.
But none of the children's Bible story books I could find even remotely filled this purpose.
In His own due time God supplied the man for the job — a man equipped by natural talent, training, experience and profession for this all-important mission.
Basil Wolverton is a nationally known artist. Three times LIFE magazine has de voted multiple-page sections, editorially, to him and his work. The news magazine TIME has written him up a number of times. His work has appeared in more than 50 national magazines.
Mr. Wolverton also is a trained writer, experienced through long years in writ ing for children.
He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Ambassador College, and an elder in The Radio Churcn of God. He is a student of the Bible, has taught a Bible class.
He accepted this very important commission.
The Bible Story has been running serially in The Plain Truth since November, 1958. Our purpose is to publish it in book form, in whatever number of volumes may be required.
The Bible Story is definitely not a series of disconnected stories of excitement and violence with no special meaning. Our purpose is to tell simply, in language children can read and understand, plainly, yet interestingly, the plain story of the Bible itself. It begins at the beginning. A continuous story thread runs through the entire Bible. Not many have ever grasped this amazing yet important fact. Most people read a verse here or a chapter there, failing to properly connect them, or understand the true continuity of the Bible story.
This book is not merely written for children. We like to say it is for children from age five to a hundred and five. Adults by multiple thousands have followed the installments avidly in The Plain Truth . Adults will gain an understanding of the WHOLE BIBLE — of its continuous story thread — from this book as they have failed to understand it before. It has proved a new and thrilling experience to countless thousands.
Mr. Wolverton has written in language of about the nine — to twelve-year level. This makes it interesting reading also for adults. As written it is a little advanced for younger children when read by themselves, but parents may read it to children as young as four or five, and, with a little simplified explanation of portions they would not comprehend clearly by themselves, it will become quite understandable, interesting, and profitable.
Mr. Wolverton has stuck tenaciously to the literal Biblical account. He has, where it has been felt necessary, taken author's license to portray certain portions or sequences in conversational style, or to add a few of what my High School English teacher of more than fifty years ago would have called "tomatoes on the window-sill" for purposes of clarity and realism — but he has been zealously careful not in any way to "add to or detract from" the real meaning and truth of the sacred Scriptures.
Between the first and second verses of Genesis 1, tremendously important events occurred which are related in other parts of the Bible. Mr. Wolverton includes these events in their actual time-order. The reader may have a complete exposition of these events by written request for the free article — reprint "Did God Create a Devil?" and another, " How Long Were the Days of Creation?"
It is our fervent hope that this first volume of The Bible Story in book form, presented to you as a ministry of love, without money and without price, will bring you and your children abundant blessings.