Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Defending the Bible from Conservatives

Just when you thought American conservatism could not jump the shark further than it already has, it has come across my desk that a group of ultraconservatives lead by the spawn of Phyllis Schlafly has decided it needs to correct the Bible. The Bible, you see, is too liberal. The Conservative Bible Project aims to fix that.

No, really. I can't believe it either. In fact, I was initially sure this was some sort of subversive performance art project undertaken by a mischievous progressive pastor. Heck, I wish I'd come up with the idea. But best I can tell, it isn't a joke.

On the Conservative Bible Project website, we hear that much of Scripture has been translated by "professors" and people who are "higher educated." They have a point there. If you spend your days studying koine Greek, ancient Hebrew, and Aramaic, there just isn't time enough to spend getting your daily requirement of talk radio.

These "Biblical Scholars" have rendered the Bible dangerously liberal. The language they used reflects liberal values which must now be replaced with proper conservative language. There are also sections of the Bible that are troubling to conservatism...so those sections will be deleted.

Three examples:

Number One: The project is deeply troubled by the use of socialist language. One example was the term "labor" and it's related term "laborer." Labor is another way to describe unions, which are opposed to free market values. It's clear evidence of liberal influence. I checked in the Bible to see if this was true. Lo and behold, it is. In the King James Version, the term "labor" is used one hundred and six times. Clearly, the team of liberal academics convened by King James I in 1604 were under the influence of the AFL-CIO. I'm not sure what word will be used in the Conservative Bible, but I'll guess "independent contractor" and "consultant" are in the running. I look forward to reading their version of the Parable of the Independent Contractors in the Vineyard.

Number Two: The language used is unclear. It needs to be refined. Take, for instance, the terms "Holy Ghost" or "Holy Spirit." That could mean anything. So those terms are out. Instead, the Conservative Bible Project uses the term "Divine Guide." And no, this isn't Oprah coming up with this. It's the far right. Really.

Number Three: Some of what Jesus said was too liberal. The project in particular targets Luke 23:34, which I defended here in terms of language and context just a few weeks ago. The idea that a) Jesus would forgive people and b) that he seems to forgive them based on their ignorance of His True Nature flies in the face of conservative teachings about personal responsibility. The Conservative Bible Project condemns these words of Jesus as a "Liberal Falsehood." So out they go.

Curiouser and curiouser...


  1. Wow. When I think of the KJV, "Liberal bias" is the last thing that comes to my mind. If the KJV Only folks get a hold of that factoid their heads will implode. This whole thing brings to mind the Jesus Seminar fiasco of the '90's and we all know what a farce that was.

    I find the fact that they are looking to mold a "thought for thought" translation highly disturbing and shows their lack of discernment. I would think a "conservative" rendering of Scripture would be a faithful word for word translation and to my mind the NASB is the best of the best in that regard. Sure, it's not as 'pretty and flowery' as some of the more popular translations, but it certainly gives us the root of what was/is being stated in the text itself.

    Conservative Bible Project, and a myriad of other such endeavors show a real disrespect for those who have gone before. Unfortunately the creation of these 'translations' is more driven by economics and marketing than a real need to present the text "more faithfully" than has been done in the past.

  2. I'll second Jonathan's "wow." Every time somebody points me to the Conservapedia, I can't believe that it's editors have managed to top themselves.

    Taking a flip through the little work that has been done on Matthew, it's pretty clear that the contributors are not translating, but just creatively paraphrasing to make the text fit their ideology.

    Still, this is "conservative"? It's hard to imagine even the most liberal Christians taking on a similar task.

  3. So this is actually for "real?" I've seen it and thought that somewhere I'd find a link to the Onion or something!

    Yeah... Wow...

  4. Isn't this what the far right does best, rewrite things they don't like, the Bible, History, or anything else that puts into question their agenda.

    The Bible does not need rewriting, it does however need honest critical thinking, and more important its our doctrine that needs rewriting, that often times has little to do with God or the Bible.

  5. Here's a more respectful treatment of Scripture and of New Testament texts to be specific.


    I know textual criticism is a bit "dry", but it's important and every Christian should be familiar with it from all angles.

    I'm not sure the folks at the "Conservative Bible Project" would approve, but they could learn quite a bit from Dr. Wallace and respect for the text (that sounds like a bumpersticker).

  6. I heard about this and it is just plain asinine. The NASB is just fine. If this keeps up David, the end is sooner then we think :)