Conservative Bible: Include me out

Rod Dreher calls it “insane hubris”.

These right-wing ideologues know better than the early church councils that canonized Scripture? They really think it’s wise to force the word of God to conform to a 21st-century American idea of what constitutes conservatism? These jokers don’t worship God. They worship ideology.

Mark Shea writes:

Have I mentioned how much I appreciate the Catholic Church’s large and bovine imperturbability and slowness to be moved by stupid cultural frenzies, fevers and fashions?

Ed Morrissey:

The challenge of Christian believers is to adhere to the Word of God, not to bend the Word of God to our preferred ideology. Doing the former requires discipline and a clear understanding of the the Bible. Doing the latter makes God subservient to an ideology, rather than the other way around.

I’ll state it plainer. This is where I get off the boat.

During the 2008 elections, I suggested that some Christian Conservatives might be making their ideology into their idol. I got a lot of hate mail for that, too.

Well, what do you think now:

“As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible…”

You know, I don’t buy tampons that are designed “by women, for women” because I do not believe that a tampon is intrinsically better because of exclusivity. To create a Bible “by conservatives, for conservatives” seems to me to be just as needlessly parochial, and not a little proud and arrogant. Just what do these folks suggest? A rewriting of all existing translations of the bible:

* identify pro-liberal terms used in existing Bible translations, such as “government”, and suggest more accurate substitutes
* identify the omission of liberal terms for vices, such as “gambling”, and identify where they should be used
* identify conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations, and propose where they could improve the translation
* identify terms that have lost their original meaning, such as “word” in the beginning of the Gospel of John, and suggest replacements, such as “truth”

Replace “Word” (“Logos”) with “Truth” because “word” has “lost its original meaning.” As if “truth” is not a relativistic word in this age?

“In the beginning was the Truth, and the Truth was with God and the Truth was God…”


God is Truth, but that is not what the scripture says, is it?
Scripture says in the beginning was the Word, the Logos – which suggests something beyond Truth and moves into Intention. The Word goes forth -it moves on the air, it moves with the Spirit. The Truth is not the same; they are not interchangeable. As the propagators of this terrible idea would surely agree: words mean things.

If you want to reclaim a word, why not start with a reclamation of the meaning of the word, Holy, which has fallen into great disuse, which is a shame because it brings enormous clarity.

This from Swampland:

Passages like the story of the adulteress whom Jesus saved from being stoned with the famous line: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Conservapedia complains that liberals have used this story to argue against the death penalty.

Oh, come on now – these people are not to be taken seriously! Are they going to edit out the entry into Jerusalem because the laying down of palms might smack too much of recycling road materials?

Earlier this year I mused on an idea:

. . .from Richard John Neuhaus’s American Babylon; Notes of a Christian Exile, where he wonders if some Protestant Americans -those bereft of liturgy and sacraments- have not created a sort of ecclesiastical substitute for those things in their intense nationalism. That is, are they making up for what is lacking in their worship -the outward pageantry, the sensory cues- within their patriotism? An interesting question. . .

Perhaps these Conservapedia folks personify the question. They appear to be confusing “sacred” things with “holy” things.

The flag is sacred. The scriptures are Holy. The constitution is sacred. The Word is Holy. Our bodies are sacred. The Body of Christ is Holy.

These words are sacred:

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present…As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
Abraham Lincoln, Remarks to Congress, 1862

These words are Holy:

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?
— Luke 9:24-25


The “Conservative” Bible is an attempt by some
who are clearly “enthralled” with their ideology to wrestle Eternity to the ground and conform it an Age. But the Age is fleeting; it is already a passing illusion. An attempt to re-translate the Bible to suit one’s worldview is to belong too much to the world, itself, and to worldly solutions. Translate the Bible to gain a wholistic world view, and you may very well forfeit yourself.

These busy bees might best serve themselves, their cause and their Lord by withdrawing a little bit from the world and taking some “time in the desert” away from the television, the radio, the gathering crowds. They need to break away from “enthrallment” to “detachment” or they will become all they despise.

Believe me, I know whereof I speak.

On a superficial level, I can understand the concerns of some of these Christians. Yes, the left does misappropriate Jesus, lately more than ever. Yes, the gender-inclusive language is a cheap sop to the age that strips meaning, humor and poetry from scripture. But these people are talking about translating scripture to suit an ideological bent. In this way, they are exhibiting a kindred spirit with the sorts of people who make “Mary and Josephine Nativity Sets” because doing so validates their beliefs, even if it is totally made up.

When Jesus came, some could not reconcile the humble carpenter with their worldly notion of what a Messiah was supposed to be. They were too much in the world, seeing with only worldly eyes, and so they missed Him. Some conservative Christians are too much in the world; they give the world too much credence, and respond to the world in worldly, rather than otherworldly ways.

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
— Romans 12:2

“But Anchoress,” I can hear some saying, “you’ve got it all wrong! These people are deliberate working in opposition to the world, so they’re not conforming to it.”

No, they are thinking as the world thinks, therefore they are conforming to it.

He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
–Matthew 16:23


Finally, one cannot escape this irony
: Conservapedia makes a point of posting these lines from Rev 22, and then adding an insufferable (and, I am sorry, but intellectually vapid) dare:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

You have been warned.

Got that? You’ve been warned. Ohhh, scary and not at all loving or inviting.

That is a possible misapplication of scripture, as there is some disagreement as to whether John is referring specifically to his writings in Revelation, or to the Bible entire (which had not yet been complied), but whether it is or is not, perhaps these folks should reconsider arbitrarily changing “Word” to “Truth” in the beginning of John’s Gospel, or reassessing Jesus’ merciful rescue of the woman caught in adultery according to their worldly -and thus very faulty- lights.

Related:
Mediaite
US News

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About Elizabeth Scalia