12 June 2009

Thomas Nelson's bad idea

Americans have the reputation of being one of the most bible-reading nations on earth. There is a huge market in that country for specialty or niche bibles, which cater to certain sectors of the reading public. Some months ago I wrote of The Green Bible, which prints in green letters passages having to do with creation. Now Thomas Nelson has published The American Patriot’s Bible, something which, admittedly, makes my skin crawl:

One could pinpoint numerous errors and one-sided assertions in such a project, for example, the facile overstating of the christian beliefs of the founders. (The inclusion of Thomas Paine here is little short of ludicrous.)

But the principal reason this is such a misguided project is that it is based on a severe misunderstanding of the biblical covenant. In the Old Testament God entered into a special relationship with the children of Israel, promising them a homeland at the crossroads of three continents and giving them a law by which to order their lives as his peculiar people. When the psalmist says: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!" (Psalm 33:12), he obviously has Israel in mind.

In the New Testament God continues to choose a people for himself, but on a different basis: the shed blood of Christ and his victory over death for their sins. The Apostle Peter says: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9). The holy nation is not ethnic Israel, but the church, the Body of Christ, whose members are drawn from every nation on earth. One tires of having to remind people of this.

Perhaps it's time for a moratorium on niche bibles of all kinds. From now on there should be the biblical text only, bound in a plain black cover.

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