I planned to merely say this: Toynbee here falls for the same inconsistency and double standard that a lot of atheist/humanist writers fall for (I write as an atheist myself): that of getting apopleptic about Christian didactism while being infinitely forgiveable of the secular version.
I don’t have the slightest problem with bombarding children with religious allegory, even dodgy ones. Anything that encourages kids to think about ethics is surely a good thing? Reading the Narnia Chronicles when I was 8 didn’t make me into a rabid Christian, but I have no doubt that it helped my development.
Another thing: surely anything that encourages Christians in Bible Belt America to think about their religion in terms of allegory and move away from the paucity of believing in the literal truth of the Bible has got to be a good thing? That is the first step towards taking on a more nuanced view of Christianity that isn’t threatened by scientific facts of life such as evolution. Muscular Christianity or not, the concept that a book can contain truth and yet not be literally true is an acid we ought to be quite comfortable to have burning away inside of the minds of Redneck America.