I can’t speak for their other products yet, but we’ve enjoyed listening to “The Bible Comes Alive Series,” 120 dramatized Bible stories for kids (2.1 days worth of audio):
About the stories:
- They follow the Bible’s storyline from creation to the book of Acts.
- Their average length is about 25 or 26 minutes.
- They were originally intended for radio broadcasts, and they are still being broadcast in English, Spanish, and Russian on approximately 4,000 radio stations around the world.
- They sound like “old time” radio. (You can listen to samples using the links above.) The Old Testament stories were recorded from the late 1950’s to the mid 1960’s and the New Testament stories from the 1970’s to the early 1980’s. They’re not as high quality as Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, but they’re not low-quality either.
- They are written by various authors who are now deceased. Virgil Isles wrote most of the Old Testament stories, and Robert Nutiuk wrote the stories about Jesus. (I don’t know anything about either person.)
- Their theology seems to match a broad, generic evangelicalism.*
- Their strength is not in relating all the stories to the one big story (like this and this) or in accurately presenting every detail (like this!) but in engaging the imagination. Listening to them is like watching a play or film based on a Bible story: they take a lot of artistic license. That artistic license occasionally raises your eyebrows and usually distorts the contours of the Bible’s narrative (as almost every play and film does), but it helps you think about those stories in fresh ways.
*Update 1 (3/19/2012). I learned this morning that “Your Story Hour” has ties to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. I asked the president of “Your Story Hour” about this, and she explained that
- They are not supported by any one church.
- They don’t teach any distinctively Seventh-Day Adventist church doctrines.
- While their founder was a Seventh-Day Adventist, he desired to operate “Your Story Hour” as a non-denominational ministry, and they continue to operate that same way today.
Here’s what Gerald Bray says about Seventh-Day Adventists in his recent systematic theology:
Once regarded as a cult, Seventh-day Adventists are now more widely recognized as a genuinely Christian denomination, though there are still points of controversy concerning their beliefs that have not been fully resolved. The church began in mid-nineteenth-century America and was undoubtedly more extreme and eccentric than it is now. Over the years its edges have softened and it has become more like a conservative Protestant church, though one with special emphases of its own, such as the foot-washing ceremony which is an integral part of their celebration of Communion. [Fn: Other churches sometimes do this, particularly on Maundy Thursday, when the Last Supper is recalled in a special way, but it is not an integral part of the Communion service as such.] The main barrier to their full acceptance as a Christian denomination is their insistence on Saturday as their day of worship. For Adventists this is not a matter of indifference, but an essential part of their faith, which they claim brings them particularly close to the love of Christ. Most Christians do not worry too much about which day is set aside for worship, although Sunday has been all but universal since ancient times and it seems odd to change it deliberately, particularly when it means falling out of step with the rest of the Christian world. The deeper objection to Saturday worship is not to the observance but to the significance attached to it, particularly because this was evidently a problem in the early church, when Jewish Christians tried to insist on keeping the law of Moses even when it had been superseded by the coming of Christ [Fn: Gal. 4:10; Rom 14:5–6]. Paul mentioned the Sabbath specifically as something that was not to be imposed on Christians [Fn: Col. 2:16]. Seventh-day Adventists have made a minor issue primary and a mark of their identity, and for this reason other Christians hesitate to accept them as fully orthodox.
In recent years there has been a tendency among some Adventists to move into mainstream Protestant evangelicalism, but other members of the church remain more closely wedded to its legalistic origins. Which of these two will triumph, or whether there will be a split, is not yet clear, but it seems safe to say that the closer the church moves toward other Christians, the less likely it is to stress or even to practice the distinctive traits that brought it into being in the first place. (pp. 451–52)
Update 2 (3/20/2012). Some former Seventh-day Adventists comment on SDA and Your Story Hour in the comments below.