The Brick Bible, which comes in several books (such as The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Brick Bible for Kids: Six Classic Bible Stories, The Christmas Story: The Brick Bible for Kids, as a complete set, etc.) claims to be “an original, modern interpretation of the Bible, based on older public domain translations such as the King James Version, Darby’s Bible, and Young’s Literal Bible. In addition, modern English Bible translations were used as references, and the author consulted the original Hebrew for certain passages.” After one reads (views) The Brick Bible, he should come to realize that it is not a Bible at all.
Up front note that the LEGO Group does not sponsor, authorize, or endorse the publication or content of these books.
The Brick Bible attempts to illustrate the stories of the Bible using LEGO bricks in various dioramas. The author states on his website “For ease of understanding and avoidance of copyright issues, The Brick Bible uses its own wording of the Bible’s text. But chapter and verse numbers are always cited and also act as clickable links to the rendering of the same verses in the King James Version, the New International Version, the New Revised Standard Version, the New Living Translation, and the Easy-to-Read Version.” The author is simply trying to appear to give a fair rendering of Scripture while using his own wording to create the impressions and emotions of the Biblical text that he wants regardless of whether it is faithful to the original text.
The Brick Bible does not contain the Bible in its entirety. Through selective editing, the author creates his own (mis)interpretation of Scripture. Small, almost imperceptible edits turn a reasonable Biblical story into something suitable for mockery. For example, the author portrays on page 27 of The Brick Bible: The Old Testament an ark crammed with Noah’s family and the animals, which perpetuates the skeptics tactic of debunking the historicity of Noah’s flood by showing how the ark could not possibly have contained all the animals as claimed.
He portrays Yahweh as a singular being, instead of a Trinity. See page 20 where Yahweh is depicted as talking to the angels instead of the other members of the Trinity when he said “The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil….” The author’s God-caricature is always as an angry, vengeful, human-killing monster. As an example of this type of portrait, page 29 shows skeletons everywhere when God is making his covenant with Noah. Instead of emphasizing the promise of a new start, the author subtly reminds us that God (unjustly) killed everyone else in the world. Every single facial expression of Smith’s chosen LEGO character for God is with furrowed brow and angry eyes.
In going through the Ten Commandments, and the punishments for violations, he depicts the punishments (death) to be carried out at the scene of the “crime” instead of after a trial and the testimony of at least two witnesses. He creates two misconceptions in the mind of the reader. First, that the punishments are disproportionate to the wrong, and secondly that the punishments are administered on the spot instead of after careful deliberation based on the evidence. This strategy is to make God’s justice to be unreasonable, if not immoral. The author chose to illustrate the more violent passages of the Bible, and failed to provide these passages in context. The theme of his illustrations is simply God’s wrath.
Depictions of the events in the New Testament are similarly flawed. Matthew 27:52-53 describes the opening of graves and many who were dead came back to life after the resurrection of Jesus. On page 134 of The Brick Bible: The New Testament, the author states “At [the moment of Christ’s death] the tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who died were raised to life.” The author shows zombies leaving the tombs instead of resurrected bodies. This alone is problematic. He also misunderstood Scripture because the resurrection of these people occurred after Jesus’ resurrection, and not at his death. This point is important because Colossians 1:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:20 state that Jesus is the firstborn of the resurrection, not these people who are mentioned in Matthew. Downplaying the miracles, the author shows the Apostles performing “many signs and wonders” as if they were conducting mere magic tricks. By doing this, the author turns these accounts into goofy legends and undermines the evidence of the Apostles’ authority as eyewitnesses to the resurrection.
The use of LEGO toys to depict Bible stories does not allow for a clear understanding of Scripture. The depictions are often silly, and limited by the “brick” nature of the medium. The limitations of the medium, combined with the likely nefarious aim of the author, turn the serious nature of the Biblical accounts into silly stories akin to the absurd tales of Norse or Greek mythology. Through his Brick Bible the author would have us believe that God is hateful and vengeful. He makes no attempt to portray the real theme of the Bible: redemption.
Though marketed to children, The Brick Bible is not suitable for children with its cartoonish depictions of killing and sex. The Bible itself with its adult themes, may be unsuitable for children without their parents close supervision. Parents need to explain the hard passages of the Bible to children, and not just assume kids are going to get the right impressions from descriptions of killings and rapes that are recorded in Scripture.
The content of this “Bible” is not accurate or theologically sound. But now I want to discuss the author. His name is, Brendan Powell Smith, or at least that is what his
name was until he legally changed it to Elbe Spurling after he announced that he is a “transgendered lesbian atheist.” What he has told us is that he is a man who likes women, and that he doesn’t believe in God. So, he is in denial about his gender, in denial about his sexual preference, and is in denial about his creator. Such a person is not in a good position to offer spiritual guidance to our children. Yet, some parents still think giving his books as gifts to children is a good idea. After reading some customer reviews on Amazon, clearly some parents have no discretion. Here are some examples:
Someone whose screen name is 250xGirl stated “Bought for my step son who is autistic and here (sic) loves Legos. This is perfect for him to relate to the Bible.” Another customer identified as Janyre said “My little guy (who’s 8) LOVES this. Not only is it super creative, but the stories are quite accurate too. I’d recommend it to any other boy mom out there.” “Sombrero” exclaimed “My Kids (5 and 3) will not go a day without reading this bible. What can I say to the author besides THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for such a wonderful work of art that gets my kids to read their bible daily!!! Its beyond imagination how amazing this work is. God bless.”
Another Amazon customer gave the product five stars, stating “This was a huge hit as a gift as a confirmation gift.” Confirmation of what? That parents who do not read the actual Bible really have no discernment when choosing illustrated Bibles for their children? The Brick Bible is not a gift to give to children for their spiritual growth. Parents who give these books to their children are giving them a completely wrong understanding of God.
On his website Brendan Smith, a.k.a. Elbe Spurling, uses the imagery of his LEGO photos to misinterpret Scripture and cast the Word of God in a bad light. For example, in interpreting the source for governmental authority, Smith insists Romans 13:1 (“Everyone must submit to governing authorities, for those in positions of authority have been placed there by God”) required unquestioned devotion to Hitler and his Nazi government, and that the American War for Independence was also rebellion against God. Smith also plays fast and loose with enemies, slavery, women, marriage, wealth, wisdom, those who will never inherit the Kingdom of God, justice, and the Jews. He simply parrots how atheists characterize what Scripture says about these issues without bothering to understand context or nuance.
In his desultory, disconnected spirituality, Smith has drafted up something called “The New Morality: Living on the Right Side of History.” He condensed this “new morality” into 10 “New Commandments” which are more like guidelines than commands. These new guidelines, however, are a mishmash of some of the “Old Commandments” and some progressive platitudes, like do not alter the environment, and minimize the suffering of “sentient animals” which presumably means we should protect the animals, but not babies in utero. But, I will discuss this “New Morality” in another article.
Brendan Powell Smith is a troubled man. That he is an atheist should lead us to question his motives for illustrating the Bible. That he is mentally disturbed by his pretending to be a woman also raises concerns of whether we can trust his perceptions of Scripture. Do not mistake my review of these books to be a call for burning them. I believe God has given us liberty, even liberty to choose what is wrong. Though, with wrong choices certainly comes consequences. I also believe that truth will prevail in the ultimate sense over lies like those promoted in The Brick Bible. But, until truth triumphs, lies may deceive many into forgoing eternal life offered to us by Jesus.
Also, do not think by my evaluating the author that I do not care about him. We should pray for him. He is deeply disturbed. Atheism is currently being studied either as a cause of mental illness, or a mental illness itself. His transgenderism is also a mental illness. I am not saying this to insult him. As a man created in the image of God, he is of inestimable worth. But, we still need to be discerning in what we allow our children to consume. Like the lie the serpent told Eve in the Garden of Eden, The Brick Bible is subtly deceptive. It pretends to be a fair rendering of Scripture, but it paints a distorted portrait of who God is. We should not let Brendan Smith’s fun, and somewhat funny, misinterpretation of the Bible put another brick in the wall that separates our children from God.