Often attributed to Einstein, it has been said that if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough. Having just recently turned the last pages on God’s Crime Scene for Kids, it is clear to me that author and apologist J. Warner Wallace understands the material well. If, like me, you’ve read the original God’s Crime Scene, you’ll know that it appeals to subject matter that can be quite difficult for the average reader. Abstract concepts like consciousness, determinism, and objective morality can make most adults feel bewildered, so I was curious to know how Wallace would handle the same subjects for an elementary-to-middle school audience. I was pleased to find that he neither skimmed over the hard stuff, nor did he simply cut any of the subjects out. Rather, he has managed to bring simple and easily understandable analogies that any child within the recommended age range should be able to understand. A standout example, I think, is in chapter six. In the middle of a discussion of if there is more to us than our brains, Wallace explains that we would not be able to hold anyone accountable for their actions if everything was just a physical event inside their nervous system. He gives this analogy:
Not to get into a separate theological discussion, but some time ago I had a similar conversation with my wife regarding why Calvinism is often accused of being deterministic. From the look on her face after we were finished, it was clear that I had done more to confuse than clarify. I really wish now that I’d had something as simple as Wallace’s domino analogy at the time. Not everyone has siblings, but nearly all kids have had an experience or three when they were coloring, building, or stacking and someone else came along and ruined it all. This book speaks their language without speaking down to them.
God’s Crime Scene for Kids will be familiar to those who have already read through Wallace’s first “… for Kids” book, as it follows the same formula. Each of the points of evidence follows those laid out in the adult version of the book step-by-step with the intent that the parent or teacher will work through the book with the child as a sort of mutual learning journey, the difference being that God’s Crime Scene for Kids is overlaid with a narrative featuring the same characters as the previous book. Of course, the story here has been cleaned up significantly from the adult version of the book as God’s Crime Scene had many examples taken from Wallace’s real-life work as a homicide detective and – though they were heavily edited for use in a Christian book – could at times be a bit gruesome. Rather, in the kid’s version, the narrative follows a young man, Jason, who has stumbled across a box in the attic with his name on it. He enlists the help of his instructor and fellow cadets in the academy to help him determine where it came from, what it means, etc. No dead bodies in this one.
Also like the first “… for Kids” book, Wallace and the publisher have put together a series of videos, worksheets, and activities to go with the book so kids are more likely to retain the information. This allows the fun opportunity for the kids to put together their own case file that will include an Academy Graduation certificate once they’re done. We did this with my own kids for the first book and they had a lot of fun with it. I’ve considered putting together little Detective Kits complete with toy badges and police hats to give to my nieces and nephews as part of their Christmas presents, but on average they are younger than my own kids and I wasn’t sure if they were ready for it yet. Maybe next year. However, I still think it could be a fun summer or winter vacation activity for those parents who are trying to deal with bored kids while they’re out of school, or homeschooling parents who are looking for something to break up their normal curriculum.
In short, this is a fantastic resource for any parent, Sunday school teacher or pastor looking to equip the youth in their care in a way that is deeper, more challenging, and (I believe) more fruitful than simply teaching them bible stories. Highly recommended.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary digital copy of this book for review purposes, though this has not affected my opinion.
God's Crime Scene for Kids can be preordered here.
Also, through August 31, Litfuse is giving away a prize pack that includes a Kindle Fire kids edition. Details can be found here.
Writer, artist, lay theologian, student of comparative religion.