Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cracking the Covenant Code for Kids

Kay Arthur and Janna Arndt have written Cracking the Covenant Code For Kids to give eight to twelve-year-old readers a chance to study the Bible inductively. Arthur explains, "That word inductive means you go straight to the Bible yourself to investigate what the Bible shows you about our awesome God, our amazing Savior, and the blessings of being in covenant with God through Jesus. In inductive Bible study, your 'discover 4 yourself' what the Bible says and means."

Arthur and Arndt use the backdrop of two children's visit with their uncle in Israel to guide readers through studying both Old Testament and New Testament covenants. Max and Molly have exciting adventures at various Israeli historical sites as they discover clues and crack codes meant to teach them about what the Bible says about covenant. Arthur and Arndt detail beliefs necessary to become a Christian, and emphasize the wonderful gift God's covenant is to Christians.

Each chapter contains multiple puzzles to be solved with codes, ciphers, diagrams, and symbolic alphabets.

What I Like: Arthur and Arndt are clearly excited about the good news of Christ. They want readers to enter into a life-changing, covenantal relationship with Jesus. They show readers how to read each word in a particular verse, and consider why individual words are important.

I loved learning more about Israeli life, customs and the Hebrew language.

The puzzles are clever and entertaining for readers of an analytical mindset.

What I Dislike:  Not being particularly analytical myself, I found the puzzles somewhat tedious and was often tempted to skip them, or guess at the correct answers.  If you enjoy crosswords, sudoku, word finds, and the like, you will probably enjoy this book.  However, if you like stories better, you may get frustrated with the constant interruptions to the narrative. 

Also, there is an elaborate system of  color-coding words in your Bible. (For example, draw a yellow box around the word "covenant" and color it red, double-underline the word "land" when it refers to the land of Canaan, with green and color it brown, and so on. . ..) I am sure adults who have completed Kay Arthur's Bible studies in the past would understand the rationale for all the color-coding, but the reason is never given in this book.

Third, I am concerned about the way Arthur and Arndt present salvation. In chapter three, they list thirteen items you must believe to be a Christian, but they emphasize the requirements more than the joy of being saved. Then, in the last chapter, they take readers through a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control) and ask readers to identify ways they fall short. One question reads, "Do you argue or get along with others? Do you lose your temper? Do you stir up trouble? If you do any of these things, write them down."  After a two-and-a-half page list of similar questions, Arthur concludes, "These characteristics show whether the Holy Spirit is living in you. Remember, in the New Covenant you have the power to do what God says is right because you have the Holy Spirit living in you! If there is no power, then you aren't saved."

Following this statement, Arthur tells readers to say their memory verse to an adult and the book ends two pages later. Arthur never reminds readers how to be saved, or reassures them salvation doesn't mean we will instantly be perfect. Certainly, our lives should show evidence of salvation, but I worry young people, who are much more black and white in their thinking than adults, would feel condemnation and guilt and would feel their own genuine commitments to Christ were not valid.

Overall Rating: Ho-hum.  Although I appreciate giving the 8-12 set a chance to do inductive Bible study, my concerns about the salvation message outweigh the positives. 
Age Appeal:  8-12

Publisher Info: Harvest House Publishers, 2012; ISBN: 978-0-7369-2595-2; Paperback, 222 pages, $12.99

Buy it Now at for $9.99

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Kathy Cassel said...

Thanks for being honest about it. I think sometimes we think anything written by a certain author will be good and don't check as thoroughly. This book has a great cover, but I think the puzzles would ruin for mine who struggle with that sort of thing.

Erin said...

Thanks, Kathy. I definitely respect Kay Arthur's rigorous investigation into what the Bible really says, but I don't think this book would be a great choice for all readers. Thanks for reading CCBR! Erin