Phil Vischer | Being Evangelical

His characters on VeggieTales are arguably among the most recognizable voices in the evangelical world. As a co-creator and writer on the show, many of us came to know Phil Vischer primarily through his wacky characters. More recently, however, Phil has taken on a new role in the evangelical community as a thoughtful voice and host of the Holy Post podcast. Phil has not been afraid to breach controversial subjects, and as a result has been subject to some controversy himself. Yet Phil’s dedication to a truth-seeking and faith centered evangelicalism is an inspiring, and perhaps challenging, model for us all.

Great history of American evanglicalism and where it can/will go from here!


Great podcast. Good summary of where evangelicalism has been, and musings on where it is going. Plus, Bob the Tomato.


Thanks Phil. I’ve played just the beginning section where he’s doing the voices a number of times. I’m not sure why it’s so surprising, but hearing those characters come out of him so easily is a little unsettling!


A friend of mine that’s a voice actor jokes often that voice acting is skill that only does not look crazy when coming through a podcast or tv character. At any other point, even seeing someone on the phone, if they begin doing multiple voices it is weird.

I know what it is. I know I seen some of them before but for whatever reason it was never part of my childhood. I’m not sure why I was surprised by his biblical world views. For some reason I had them categorized in a sort of YEC spot. I think it’s because the majority of time I see veggie tales being mentioned it’s always been in the light that it’s not very accurate and turned the entire story of Jonah into something focused mostly on the fish and that it’s better for kids to not see the show to not develop a weird biblical worldview and ect… but from the way he talked it seems like that’s not really the case and so maybe others are just a bit snobby on its intent. It was a fun podcast. He seems like a really entertaining guy to interact with and someone who can also really break down American Christian history.

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When scientists say “this is my scientific conclusion, and also by the way, this means there is no God,” now you’ve put 90% of the world’s inhabitants on the defensive.
from the podcast.

@jstump, based on the above doesn’t it make sense to show that make sense to demonstrate that Dawkins’ gene’s eye view of evolution is 1) Wrong, and 2) Proves by the obverse that God created the universe.

Vischer: The whole idea was, we’re going to hold to the Bible, we’re going to hold to the orthodox historical faith, but we’re going to reject the separatism and the anti-intellectualism of fundamentalism.

The most serious problem for the fundamentalist/evangelical movement is that it has sacrifices faith in the Word/Logos/Jesus for faith in the word/the Bible. A living faith for a dead or dying faith.

Only when people accept this unpleasant fact can they repent and begin the healing process.

So if you’re from the North, if unfortunately, the fact that you know the modernists were mostly Northern and the fundamentalists were mostly Southern, also fits into Southern narratives that have been around since the Civil War, which is, the North is messing with our stuff. The North is destroying, these Ivy League, highfalutin experts, quote unquote, want to destroy our way of life.

Fundamentalists/evangelicals seem to have bought into the myth that religion and politics are the result of a power struggle and have nothing to do with truth. What they ignore is that people are involved. The Civil War was not about states’ rights. It was about slavery. Abortion is about peoples’ lives.

Fundamentalism, modernism, and evangelicalism could learn much from Black Christianity which has not forgotten Who is Jesus Christ.

In the US there are not two sides to every political/faith issue, only one real side the side of faith in the goodness of God and love for others, some of whom are not like you.

As an Australian, this was very interesting and informative. And more than a little depressing! “x percent of evangelicals don’t identify as Christian.” Huhhh? :thinking: There is a small attempt to import into Australia the political weaponisation of evangelical Christianity, but it doesn’t achieve much traction.


Yes, it would be nice if we didn’t try to balance our trade deficit here by exporting peculiarly American ideas like that!


I shared this podcast with a friend of mine … you know … friends of friends of friends, and how that works.

Anyway this southern friend of mine, while agreeing with some or even much of what Phil said, also had this critique: If you’re going to complain about people wanting everything simple (and avoiding any complication as much as they can), then you might at least follow your own advice and not have such an overly simplistic view of “the south”.

I asked my friend what one of the things was that he might have found most egregious about Vischer’s characterizations of the south. One of the things my friend noted was that southerners are not all Baptists, and do not hold up any of the Bob Joneses as being favorite southern icons - not by a long shot. (My own friend - who I especially appreciate for his southern proclivities and sympathies - even if I don’t always agree, indicated in fairly certain terms that he thought Bob Jones, both senior and junior were pretty much jerks.) So anyway. Not all Christian quarters in the south hearken to Bob Jones with approval, much less enthusiasm.


A fair critique, as I sorta grew up in the South, and never heard of Bob Jones College until the inter-racial dating stuff came to light, and didn’t know there was a Sr. and a Jr. Even now I hear Bob Jones and think of the Kool -Aid guy (Jim) first. Where I grew up near Lubbock is really more Western culture than Southern, however, although settled largely by the Scot-Irish migration west from Appalachia in search of a better life, so bears some common factors.
By the way, the autobiographical book by Philip Yancey" Where the Light Fell: A Memoir" is a pretty good read about growing up in the fundamentalist South.


Overall a good interview, but hard to recommend to someone who thinks differently. I wish Phil Vischer hadn’t mixed up which chapter talks about God forming Adam from the dust and breathing into him (Genesis 2, not 1) or which Pauline letter speaks about head coverings while praying (1 Corinthians, not Ephesians). As someone who mainly agrees with him, it’s easy to overlook stuff like that – and I’m sure it’s easy to misspeak in an interview. But for the crowd that could most benefit from what he’s saying, simple factual errors like that make it too simple to write someone off as biblically uninformed and not worth listening to. That’s a shame, since he’s wiser than your average tomato.


In Vischer’s defense (kind of), when I asked him why conservative Christians want simplicity, he answered “we all do that.” So I’d guess he’d say “guilty as charged”.


It’s probably true that any region’s harshest critics might probably come from within. As someone who’s pretty much devoured most books that Yancey has written, I think it’s safe to assume that he does not retain any rose colored lenses about what the south was. It would be interesting to hear his commentary on Vischer’s views. I can’t imagine him diverging too much from it.


He is very open about the problems and abuses, but also the good of the people he encountered growing up. As I am Yancey’s age, it was interesting the parallels and also the differences we had. We even had the same budget for our wedding ($300) and an even cheaper more redneck honeymoon, if possible.


For where I live specifically (two hours northeast from Bob Jones), that would be a bit of an over-generalization, but pretty accurate. The local area is about 80% Baptist, and Bob Jones University, if not (unsure) the Bob Joneses, is highly regarded.


I guess whatever he said I did not think much about it. I live in the Deep South Bible Belt of Alabama and that’s about as south as south gets. I normally am pretty quick to pick up on outsider jokes at our expense. I don’t even have that heavy of a accent and when I was in Portland, Oregon for a a few years I use to always hear jokes and random comments tossed at me. Mostly was not bothered by it. Got annoyed once when a waitress joked after she heard my accent and said she’s glad at least I remembered to wear shoes and put on a clean shirt before coming and it was the first time I ever met her and it was in front of others and was weird. But I knew she was just kidding and not actually trying to mock me and so i told her of course I wore shoes even in the south we know if you’re going to ditch and dine you should probably wear shoes and toss on something clean so they don’t suspect you upfront.

She laughed she ended becoming the waitress I looked for when I went there.

But I am normally at least see what aware of the geographical jokes and stereotypes but I know most of the time it’s not that serious. It’s not meant to be taken 100% literally or to the heart. Having thick skin is beneficial. Not because you need to up with crap but because it helps you realize that often things are just a joke and not that serious. Plus often these “offensive”‘concepts are based in some aspect of reality. The south does have a lot of baptists. There is a reason we have baptists and southern baptists but not eastern, western or northern baptists. Even the majority of nondenominational churches are essentially baptist.

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this podcast episode was just delicious. I learned a lot!


And yet…

I decided to explore a bit more.

Exploration 1, there is a TV at work that has “cable” (actually I think it’s satellite). Foxtel. Even before the rise of streaming most Australians didn’t bother with cable, and, if they did, it was mostly for sports.

Actually, Rupert (speaking of unfortunate exports… sorry…) has seen the writing on the wall and repackaged the Foxtel sports channels as a much cheaper streaming service.

Anyway, I had a look. There are about five Christian channels there. Of the three that weren’t playing ads at the time I checked, one was playing a local Catholic mass, and two were playing really worrying “prosperity gospel” type stuff. One dude (American) ending every phrase with “ah chahchahchah”, like one of those street racer cars with the tweaked turbo gate/dump valves, as if he was just so filled with the Spirit that his mortal anatomy can barely contain it, and yet, what he’s actually saying doesn’t all seem to coincide with Scripture, so what am I to make of it? Which spirit actually fills him?

What actually challenged me most about this was how ok I was with the Catholic service. I have no recent history of liturgy, and, there is an extremely wide and deep social scar in Australia around historical clergy child sex abuse.

But although I found his purple gown unusual, the guy read out and affirmed what I guess is a named Creed, which I found genuinely consistent with the core of Christianity as I understand it from Scripture.

Exploration 2, I checked out the Australian Christian Lobby. Possibly the main front of that political/cultural weaponisation of Christianity in Australia.

This is possibly the best I saw from the current managing director: Sexuality, Judgement & The Gospel | Martyn Iles | Q + A - YouTube

(Moderators might not like it due to the sexuality angle, edit if so, but, actually he swiftly diverts to a more general message.)

Looking at this guy, he makes many good points (not just in this video). I think the Lord is working through him. I don’t remember ever seeing the gospel message articulated on prime time Australian TV as he did here.

And yet, sorry, looking at his other stuff I cannot shake con-man / Pharisee vibes. I suspect discipleship is but a vehicle to political and cultural power for him and his ilk, which is absolutely counter to the gospel message as I understand it.

I could elaborate but I have crapped on enough for now.

As my aunt in South Carolina might say “well bless her little heart”. Contrary to what I first supposed those were not exactly meant as terms of endearment.


Neither Jim nor Phil mentioned it; I felt like Phil had read “The Evangelicals” by Frances Fitzgerald, an excellent history of the evangelical movement starting with the Great awakenings, good insight into the events surrounding the Princeton split, the Bible college movement, and the multiple streams, their successes, and failures leading up to just before the Trump election. A history book rather than an apologist for one stream.


Jesus was not killed by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix. Beware those who claim to know the mind of God and who are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware those who cannot tell God’s will from their own.

-Barbara Brown Taylor