Controlling the words

 I wrote recently about the growing furor over plans to update the New International Version of the Bible with gender neutral language for God. Instead of the more familiar “Father,” God would be referred to as “Parent.” Those who oppose such an idea understand that by controlling the words, they can control the theology. 

But that’s nothing compared to this.

A group associated with Conservapedia, an online information source attempting to compete with Wikipedia, has launched what they are calling the Conservative Bible Project (CBP). According to the site, modern translations of the Bible, and even some textual matters, are tainted with a liberal bias. The plan is to rewrite the Bible so that it reflects a more conservative viewpoint.

The group has outlined ten principles they will use to identify and correct liberal tendencies. I don’t have space here to deal with all ten; you can visit the site and read them for yourself. But here a few of the more interesting ideas they have.

First, the CBP group is worried about what they call the emasculation of Christianity. Thus they are opposed to gender inclusive language. If the text says “brethren,” then brethren is what it means. Never mind that references to brethren often includes men and women. Apparently women should be neither seen nor heard in church.

Next, the CBP folk are concerned that the Bible is being “dumbed down.” They point out that the NIV is written at the 7th grade reading level. But then in a later point they express concern that modern Bible translations often feature “unnecessary ambiguities,” and “liberal wordiness.” They prefer concise language such as using “Lord” for all references to God regardless of what the original word may have been.

So is the goal here to not dumb down the text, but not use a lot of words in the process?

There’s more.

The CBP group thinks it would be a good idea to find ways to express the free market meaning of Jesus’ parables. 

Say for example the parable of the land owner who hires workers all during the day and then pays them all exactly the same wage—even the ones that only worked one hour. 

I guess the free market meaning here is that corporations should be free to pay workers whatever they want without government interference. I am certain this is exactly what Jesus had in mind.

The group would also like to do some editing of the text to remove material that works against a conservative view of Jesus. They mention in particular removing the story of the woman caught in an act of adultery and subsequently forgiven by Jesus. The folk at CBP believe this story was inserted into the Bible later, presumably by congressional Democrats.

I find myself agreeing with Rod Dreher, a blogger at Beliefnet.com in his assessment of this project as “insane hubris,” “ideological madness,” and “right wing dementia.” Although that’s probably the sort of “liberal wordiness” the CBP wants to eliminate.

For my part the CBP is a massive exercise in futility. The only way to eliminate the liberal tendencies of the Bible is to remove any and all references to Jesus. Unless, of course, we find out that Jesus didn’t really say blessed are the poor, woe to you who are rich, turn the other cheek, and love your enemy. 

I guess these sayings could have been added to the Bible later by socialists.

 

James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama. He can be reached at faithmatters@mindspring.com.

About Chris Elkins

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