Sunday, July 5, 2009

The American Patriot's Bible

Another day, another study bible. This time, the American Patriot's Bible. Amazon offers this product description:
THE ONE BIBLE THAT SHOWS HOW 'A LIGHT FROM ABOVE' SHAPED OUR NATION. Never has a version of the Bible targeted the spiritual needs of those who love our country more than The American Patriot's Bible. This extremely unique Bible shows how the history of the United States connects the people and events of the Bible to our lives in a modern world. The story of the United States is wonderfully woven into the teachings of the Bible and includes a beautiful full-color family record section, memorable images from our nation's history and hundreds of enlightening articles which complement the New King James Version Bible text.
The USA Today, picks up on its creation, detailing its background and reaction to its formation. Money quote:
Americans looking to combine love of God with love of country this July 4th can quote the new American Patriot's Bible, which says God has influenced America through godly Founding Fathers, presidents and soldiers.

"This Bible is designed for the decent, hardworking core of America, the ordinary man or woman who loves this nation and believes it springs from godly roots," says Richard G. Lee, a Southern Baptist pastor from Georgia who served as the Bible's general editor.

Lee believes that conservative values are under assault in our current political context, and as such this study bible is necessary:
In his introduction, Lee writes that "America stands without equal as a beacon of hope and freedom in a hurting world." The Patriot's Bible, he says, speaks to Americans who feel their conservative theology, politics and morals are under assault.

"We are at our lowest ebb at this particular time," he said in an interview. "Judeo-Christian principles are being beaten down. They're actually under attack. This has never happened before."

However, not all conservative evangelicals celebrate this "non-partisan" publication. Some are disgusted with the unabashed and intentional fusion of Christianity and patriotism:

"Get thee behind me, Satan," wrote "Crunchy Con" blogger Rod Dreher on Beliefnet. "To the extent that this Bible's publishers conflate serving Christ with patriotism … they are corrupt, and corrupters."

Evangelical author and pastor Greg Boyd's lengthy critique, posted on Christianity Today's website, calls Lee's Bible "idolatrous," saying, "There's not a single commentary in this Bible that even attempts to shed light on what the biblical text actually means."

Importantly, it is relatively commonplace to have a study bible conform to a certain, sometimes secular, ideological agenda. Take, for example, the Green Bible. But, I too have a major problem with retrofitting and redacting our sacred texts with imperial nationalism; as if to be true Christians or true Americans, you must believe a certain way, and failure to do so invalidates your religious and patriotic credentials. At best this is unhealthy - at worst, harmful - to our religious and political identities.

Talk amongst yourselves.

No comments: