The Jesus Beanies have arrived! What's next?
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"We hope Jesus Beanies and future introductions will become teaching tools to guide young children and spur their interest in a better way of interacting with others, a better way of seeing themselves, and in a better way of life." Behind Jesus Beanies
Christian or not, children can now choose their own favorite version of a cuddly Jesus toy: a blue-eyes or a brown eyed Jesus Beanie. Both carry a nice-sounding lesson: We should turn to Jesus "for love, comfort, security and guidance, especially in those times when we feel lost or alone."
But which "Jesus" will they actually turn to for comfort and guidance? The Biblical Jesus whom they can neither see nor touch -- or this soft, huggable toy "that loves you back?" Or a blend of both: a imaginary God who is soft, loving and non-judmental?
"The idea was born from watching our own children interact with Teddy Bears and other stuffed animals," the makers at CPR Marketing tell us. "So we asked ourselves if there was a way we could transfer that young child's quest for comfort to a source they wouldn't outgrow. This is why we developed the Jesus Beanie."
Their goal sounds noble: "create a toy that would promote religious development in our children, at an earlier age." In other words, CPR Marketing, a secular "privately-owned public relations and marketing firm founded in 1996," claims to know how to help Christian parents instill faith in their children. How does such a plan line up with Psalm 1, which tells God's people not to follow the counsel of unbelievers?
Naturally, this marketing firm wants to reach beyond just Christian parents and children. According to CPR's list of suggestions, the Jesus-figure can serve churches in a number of ways: as a Christmas ornament, as a funeral or grave decoration, as a gift for special occasions and as a statement of faith on an office desk.
It's all part of CPR's "sincere quest just to do good."
But what is "good" to the world may be bad in God's eyes. Would God be pleased with a toy that teaches his children to find comfort and guidance through a man-made image of Jesus? Might such a revered object be all too similar to the idols forbidden by the second commandment? Is not the very name of this idol-like toy a mockery to our holy God? Might a stuffed figure bearing the name of Jesus trivialize both the name and the glory of our sovereign King?
Remember God's warnings to His wayward Old Testament people who had forgotten His Word and lost sight of His glory:
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness....
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!" Isaiah 5:2-21
“Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female...." Deuteronomy 4:15-16
"You thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you." Psalm 50:21
In Old Testament days, God would withdraw His loving care and protection from Israel when His people rejected His laws and "walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil hearts." (Jeremiah 7:24) Left to their own resources, they faced devastating droughts, famines, wars and plagues.Eventually, they would repent and cry out to God, and He would forgive His people and restore the nation. But after a season of peace and prosperity, the people would again forget His Word. Soon idolatry would seem more normal than obedience, and the tragic cycle would start all over again: apathy, rebellion, paganism, oppression.... [See America's Spiritual Slide]
Some might argue that the Jesus Beanie is good compared to the overt evils in today's world of popular toys and entertainment. But God warns us not to compare good and evil on a relative scale. His guidelines are absolute. And when we trivialize truth, neglect His Word and gradually embrace the world's ways, we too join the downward slide toward bondage.Deut 8:10-20 and 1 Cor 10:1-13
"Christian" gadgets and spiritual toys have become big business for those who would market the gospel to a hedonistic nation. Today's quest for emotional thrills, social unity and feel-good evangelism makes Christians especially vulnerable to compromise. So do the apparent triumphs of Christian marketing. For example, the rising sales of Mel Gibson's licensed key chains, pins, pewter nails and coffee mugs seem to demonstrate great success! So do the marketing strategies of big churches whose message is driven by the "felt needs" of the unbelieving community.[See Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven]
And so do the Jesus Beanies. "In early 2003, we introduced the Jesus Beanie at a Boston trade show called Congress 2003, a show dedicated to reaching christian educators," explains CPR Marketing. "Much to our surprise, we were not only told we were the talk of the show, but we sold out of our show stock supply. By April, we were just plain sold out. This was assurance to us that we were on the right path."Emphasis added
The right path? Do the phenomenal global sales of Harry Potter books demonstrate "the right path?"
God doesn't measure success by the world's standards. His ways are higher and better than ours! [Isaiah 55:8] When He wanted to prove His power rather than man's finite strength, God shrunk Gideon's army down to 300 men. When He wanted to train Christian leaders who would share His gospel around the world, Jesus began with 12 uneducated men. When He wanted to speak only to those who sincerely sought Him, He spoke in parables that He explained -- not to the crowds -- but only to His true disciples. Our wonderful Lord chose "the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise" and "the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty... that no flesh should glory in His presence." 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
In our times, there is no limit to what man will do to "help God out" and to demonstrate earthly illusions of spiritual success. And so, a more recent CPR report titled "The Ten Commandments in a Cuddly Doll" has introduced a new beanie in its religious line-up: "The Moses Beanie: Give Me Ten!"
What will be next?
1. Behind Jesus Beanies at http://www.jesusbeanies.com/about-jesus.htm
2. Jesus Beanies - The Toy that Loves You Back at http://www.jesusbeanies.com/index-jesus.htm
3. See "America's Spiritual Slide" at http://www.crossroad.to/charts/SpiritualSlide.html
4. William Neuman, "'Jesus' Nail Sale," New York Post, February 19, 2004"Mel Gibson's Passion" at http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/passion.htm
5. The Ten Commandments in a Cuddly Doll at http://www.jesusbeanies.com/index-moses.htm
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