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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Review: "Messengers of Faith" Talking Doll

We received a complimentary Jesus doll from one2believe to review. Currently there are four talking dolls available: Jesus, Moses, David, and Mary. These 12" tall dolls are fully articulated and each has a button in the back which you can push to hear a voice talk. The Jesus doll includes six scriptures for memorization purposes. The dolls are advertised as such:
Messengers of Faith really helps children learn. By appealing to all of their senses, children memorize Scripture and Bible stories via:

a. Auditory Learning (learning by what we hear)
b. Visual Learning (learning by what we see)
c. Kinesthetic Learning (learning by what we physically feel)

Together, all these features make learning about the Bible and its history fun for children of all ages.
What was our experience? Upon receipt of the Jesus doll for review, my children were excited and enjoyed pushing the button in the back to initiate the talking feature. They also liked playing with the doll by bending the arms and legs and twisting different joints. My son even took the doll outside to ride in his little tractor. However, the novelty quick wore off and the Jesus doll got tossed to the floor with the rest of the toys. After observing this, I felt uncomfortable that "Jesus" got played with and then got tossed to the side. I can't scold or blame my kids for this type of regular play because, after all, it is a doll. Yet it concerns me because it is a doll which attempts to portray the Lord Jesus Christ.

While the intention of the creator of this doll is good in helping children learn scripture verses, my own sense is that it is not a very good medium. The doll only comes with six scriptures which is a good start for children, but how does one move beyond this to encourage more scripture memorization?

For home/private use, I'm inclined to give a gentle thumbs-down to this doll, especially the Jesus doll. Perhaps in a children's bible class or similar teaching environment, it would make a useful tool. Frankly, though, even though the maker is well-intentioned, I'm not convinced that a Jesus talking action figure really adds much to the conveyance of the gospel or Bible memorization. A few verses and a story booklet fall far short of crucial interactive dialogue about the message of sin and salvation and add little practical value (or at least less than the well-meaning marketing message would have you believe).

As a sidenote, to provide a constructive alternative, we highly recommend that parents help their children memorize Scripture (without props). Evers has been working with Matthew with great success using the Foundation Verses resources from Desiring God. After a month, Matthew's now memorized seven verses and working on #8.