Keepers of the Kingdom VBS

My church doesn’t run a VBS, but another church in the presbytery does, so we enrolled our younger children as participants and older children as helpers. When my wife noticed that the curriculum was produced by Answers in Genesis, I was dismayed since I am not a fan of that organization, but I let our children do it anyway since they had lots of friends going. And it seems to be a popular curriculum, considering that we saw several churches advertising it during a recent cross-country trip. Below is a blurb and a video from their website.

Preparing Children to Survive in Today’s World

We are engaged in an epic battle for the hearts and minds of our youth. Every day, they’re bombarded with lies about who they are, who their Creator is, and where their salvation comes from. Thankfully, God has given his children armor to wear in this battle between truth and lies, light and darkness, good and evil.

With this VBS, your kids will learn how they can be part of God’s kingdom through salvation in his Son and will be equipped with the armor of God to become Keepers of the Kingdom and stand strong in today’s battle for truth.

I am not a scholar of VBS curricula, so I don’t know if this particular program is worse than any other, but I have a strong feeling that this is not the right approach and is not what the church needs right now. Below I will articulate some reasons why.

First, the advertisement for the program strikes me as giving off an aura of fear, which doesn’t seem quite right. After giving it some thought, I realize that when I contemplate the secular world, I often feel anger, and I sometimes feel pity, but I never feel fear. I fully understand that the world is hostile to Christ, and therefore to me and my children, but this knowledge motivates me to be more diligent in raising my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, not to be fearful. Is this lack of fear of the world true for other men here? Because otherwise I would attribute the desire for a VBS like this to maternal anxiety.

Second, the program seems focused more on the mind (what to believe) than on the heart (what to love). This strikes me as a serious misunderstanding of why children raised in the church depart from the faith. Is it because they read Darwin in college and become intellectually convinced that the Bible is not true? Or is it rather that their affections are set on the world and they prefer the treasures of Egypt to the reproach of Christ (a temptation that is present in every generation)? I have never had the slightest qualm about letting my children read secular science books because they only touch the mind, but I am very careful about letting my children watch movies like Frozen because they touch the heart (I realize that Frozen is a rather old movie by now, but I have no familiarity with more recent Disney movies).

Third, if I wanted to equip a young person with intellectual tools to oppose scientific materialism, I would eschew Answers in Genesis material because it is pretty weak (indeed, my wife told me that our daughters remarked to her about the feebleness of the arguments they saw presented in the VBS). I believe that there are powerful arguments against scientific materialism, but AiG does not employ them because they do not provide support to the particular creation view that AiG wants to uphold. Despite the ostensible goal of the VBS, it seems to me that the program is more oriented around providing comfort (false comfort, in my opinion) to parents who do not face intellectual challenges from secularism, rather than equipping children who now or in the future may actually face intellectual challenges from secularism.

Last, does it strike anyone else as odd that the intro video presents a girl in the armor of a knight? While fully agreeing that women need to have spiritual qualities listed in Eph. 6:14-17, is it fitting to apply to military imagery to women? I note that in Part 2 of the Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan has Great Heart fight on behalf of Christiana unlike in Part 1, in which Christian donned armor and fought his own battles.


I think your point about fear is quite significant. I can understand why people are reacting like that, but it isn’t very healthy in the end. I also agree with your points about AiG - you’ve put your finger on something I’ve felt for a while, but not been able to articulate.

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What resources would you recommend for fighting scientific materialism?


That video promo was pretty cringe for sure. And I do think it is odd to present a girl in the armor of a knight though I see your point about Eph. 6 and think in light of the sword turning into a bible they were probably going for that idea. That is a great point about the mind and the heart and I hear your point about fear as well and agree. I am not some giant fan or apologist of AiG but I appreciate some/much of what they do and do not mind recommending some of their stuff. Even if some of the arguments from the VBS content seem half-baked or weak I think the old Thomas Sowell questions of “compared to what” or “according to whom” are both worth asking. Since it seems undeniable we live in such a rampantly godless, blasphemous, biblical illiterate age, in some ways I bet nearly all VBS curriculum might be more in the “repair the ruins” or “start with the very basics” categories. And it is probably much more of an evangelistic endeavor for most churches who figure there will be some maybe even the majority of the kids who come will be from unbelieving homes. Praise God your children have your wife and you and were it so that all children did! Another point: I have visited the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum twice I think in the last few years. In my opinion it was refreshing to see a higher quality work put on by Christians for a change. It often seems to me like some (most?) Evangelical Christian works or projects can be half-baked or excused for their poorer quality because they are Christians. There is a kind of abuse grace that leads some to not having to work as hard or being as creative or something. That is part of why I appreciate so much of the ministry of Warhorn (and no that is not flattery you all who contribute do a great job with producing high quality and thoughtful podcasts, content, books, etc.) Anyway just a few random thoughts. Appreciate your thoughtful post on this brother Joel. Much to consider and think on and I appreciate your words here.


I don’t have any resources handy, but here is the approach I would take.

  1. A scientific materialist inevitably views some attitudes and actions as bad and others as good. But how can natural selection operating on random genetic mutations generated in a universe consisting of nothing more than matter and energy produce an absolute sense of right and wrong? And if there are no absolute rights and wrongs, why do materialists get so upset when people do something they think is wrong? Sure, evolution could cause people to tend to view certain things as morally bad, but that is merely descriptive, and if someone holds a different view he cannot be said to have a morally wrong view in any transcendent sense, but only that he has a view different from the majority. And even materialists do not adopt the view that morality is simply determined by the majority.

  2. Similar to the above point, how can nothing more than matter and energy produce true reasoning? For example, many people are very excited that an AI tool like ChatGPT can pass professional exams. But the reality is that ChatGPT is nothing more than an elaborate text predictor and has no sense of whether what it produces is true or false. This fact won’t change no matter how big the computer or advanced the machine learning method. Truth or falsehood is instead determined by humans, but if it is the case that humans are nothing more than a super-advanced ChatGPT, as some believe, how can it be said that materialism is true in the normal sense rather than just a meaningless outcome of a text predictor?

  3. The most core human experience is that of interior consciousness – a sense of self that is separate from the physical body and feeling sensations that cannot be expressed by any physical measurement. How can this arise from nothing more than matter and energy?

I could add more arguments, but I think I will leave it at these for now. While it is true that materialists have responses to the above questions, their answers strike me as nothing more than obfuscation and handwaving. The Bible may be false, but if it is true, we have a clear and simple explanation for the most basic human experiences – morality, reasoning, and consciousness. But if scientific materialism is true, we have no plausible explanation for the most basic human experiences.

Rather than advance arguments like the above in the VBS curriculum, my daughters reported that the VBS instead argued for notions like dinosaurs living with humans a few thousand years ago. And let me tell you, scientific materialists would love to argue about that rather than what I put above. And by my reading of Genesis, it is not necessary to believe that dinosaurs lived with humans, so I think AiG is going to a lot of trouble for nothing, or worse than nothing, if the feebleness of evidence asserted for dinosaurs living with humans undermines their trust in the Bible.

While I believe that teaching on the truth and falsehood of world views has its place, my concern is that it is being employed as a cheap substitute for the hard work of spiritual formation in children that parents and churches must carry out.

Let me tell you what I heard from someone awhile back. This person grew up in the church with believing parents yet as a young adult repeatedly committed gross sins even while attending church weekly. This person emphasized to me to greatness of the temptations, which indeed would likely cause you or me to stumble, but these temptations did not pop up out of nowhere – instead they arose because this person repeatedly entered long-term life situations in which it would be surprising if such temptations did not arise.

This person had received world view teaching and had been taught what was true and false, but it was ineffective as a restraint to sin. Rather, the issue was that this person had, at the time, no fear of God and no sense of the need to deny oneself and take up the cross. The reality of the Christian life is that God often calls us to difficult labor and patient waiting before granting us blessings, and sometimes it is years of labor and waiting – consider how long David waited to become king and had been unwilling to strike down Saul with his own hand. But, like Abraham with Hagar, this person couldn’t stand to suffer in work and waiting and instead tried to take shortcuts to happiness, and neither church nor family had taught or trained otherwise.

On a different thread, one of my daughters recently reported the difficulty she was having in forgiving her annoying and mean brother, but this is precisely the training in righteousness that she needs right now to strengthen her for the suffering she will undergo when she faces harder trials in the future. So rather than world view teaching on truth and falsehood, I think a VBS would be better off giving a presentation of law and gospel and showing how to apply them to everyday circumstances like forgiving and loving an annoying and mean brother.


My two youngest also did the AiG Keepers of the Kingdom VBS a month or so ago at a nearby church that is not our own but where we have some friends. (Our church also does not do a VBS.) From a testimonial standpoint, the materials seem to have connected very strongly with my 4 year old, and my wife refers to some of the simple concepts that he learned at the VBS to help him understand his sin. He seems to continue to connect to the terminology even here a few weeks later.

That doesn’t mean it’s a great curriculum, though I generally like and trust AiG’s stuff. But I thought I would share my testimony.

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How early have you used this approach? I think they’re great questions, but most vbs programmes I’ve been part of (including using AiG’s material) have focused on elementary school kids. The goal has been more giving the outline of the gospel message than apologetic approaches.

That said, I do wonder if - in the main - vbs programmes are more for Christian parents than for evangelism or even Christian children. Ours has always been well attended by unbelieving children, but the fruit we’ve seen is minimal (not that that necessarily tells us anything).

Not at the elementary school level. As I said at the end of my previous comment, I think a VBS is best focused on law and gospel with an application of forgiving and loving one’s mean and annoying brother.

The inclusion of AiG creationist apologetics certainly made it seem so for this VBS curriculum.

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I’m an old earther like you and explain to my kids the evils of evolution. There’s not a lot of great content out there for kids that isn’t young earth, so my kids have listened to Jonathan Park and some other young earth resources. I explain to them that there are different positions on Genesis that can be considered faithful and that it’s not something to divide over.

When they’re older I’ll introduce them to Stephen Meyer and the discovery institute.

And yes the woman warrior is an abomination. Feminism gets in everywhere to the point that modern Presbyterians look at you like you have a third eye when you talk about civil magistrates needing to be men. Make Knox great again.

Knox simply wrote a short book saying what every church father and mother said and believed. That is, until the nineteenth century canker spread into twentieth century rot. Specifically, in his letters, Calvin states his agreement with Knox on this Biblical doctrine. This is inarguable, but lots of dudes like Liam Goligher (and Tremper Longman) deny it. From dishonesty–not honest error. When corrected, Liam refused to acknowledge his lie or correct it on Mortification of Spin. Keep this in mind in public teaching, preaching, and discussing. Liam, Tremper, and their ilk have now deceived much of the American reformed church.

Sending a fox into the henhouse before dashing for the exit, although I’m no adherent of flood geology, I’d guess among Christian men there’s a positive correlation between belief in global warming/climate change/extreme weather and belief in old earth. And many of them might take that to be a compliment. Love,


Probably. I’m not one of them, an alarmist, that is. We need more fossil fuel burning to keep folks out of poverty until nuclear + batteries can fully transition to being affordable.

I didn’t know that abound Calvin, thanks. I thought he and Knox differed slightly on this. But it makes sense.

I find that the older I get, the less I care about creation views. But I figure it’s worthwhile for my children to know the young earth flood geology view since so many of their friends believe that, though I don’t think it is a suitable focus for a VBS.

Regarding global warming/climate change, I regard that as something that is happening now and will get worse in the future with substantial impacts, some of which will be beneficial but most of which will be detrimental because our infrastructure is not set up for it. I also think it is a great demonstration of the folly of sinful man as rich elites jet around and make plans for the common man to eat bugs rather than sacrifice their own lifestyles as an example of leading from the front.


I’ve long been a believer that good teachers can redeem a poor curriculum, but a good curriculum is highly unlikely to redeem poor teachers. I think the answer to your questions/ points is: how well do you know and trust those running this VBS?

Pretty well, which is why I was surprised that they chose this curriculum. I don’t know how the decision was made, but my guess is that it came from a bottom-up desire by some members of the congregation rather than a top-down independent decision by the Session.

On the last night of the VBS, the church gave tours of the classrooms so parents could see what their children had been learning. In the classroom of my 9-year-old son, I noticed a piece of tape stuck to a poster from the VBS. It turned out that my son had protested showing Jesus in a picture, so the teacher taped it over in response to his concern.


Could it be that your old earth science view is biasing your views against the AIG curriculum.

Yes, it could certainly be possible! Which is why I was open about it so people could make their own judgments on how to receive my comments.

As I stated above, the older I get, the less I care about creation views. My concern is that many young earth creationists seem to think that young earth creationism is the solution to many ills of the church, and I don’t agree.


As I stated above, the older I get, the less I care about creation views. My concern is that many young earth creationists seem to think that young earth creationism is the solution to many ills of the church, and I don’t agree.

Agreed. The rise of Deism in the century before The Origin of Species had left a horde of issues which Darwin could only add to. And even in the ancient world, one writer could observe, “the gods exist, but they are of no account”.

But keep in mind no man should be careless about the historicity of that first man, Adam. Deny or reduce him to a member of an early “tribe of hominids” and you deny the inerrancy, infallibility, perspicuity, inspiration, and authority of Scripture. Thus, as pastors and elders, we should vociferously condemn Tim Keller and Jack Collins’s teaching and authority in the Reformed Church, pointing out (among other things) that they work to deconstruct “Creation.” Love,