I suppose you could say that this is kind of a rant. I frequently receive catalogs from a major seller of Christian books and Bibles. Over the years I’ve bought quite a few things from them and I appreciate their work. But the latest catalog sort of set my teeth on edge–and it wasn’t about the number of Amish romance books on display–although I may rant about those sometime soon. No this rant is about the Bibles they’re selling.
The Bible is the Bible and while there are competing translations–ESV, NKJ, NASB, NRSV, etc.–there shouldn’t be much else separating them. The Word is the Word, after all. But you can never underestimate the ability of marketers to differentiate their product from their competitors product. With the Bible we not only find study Bibles with notes by people of differing theological positions, we also find Bibles prepared especially for children, teens, women, men, people in recovery, people who like horses (really I can’t make this stuff up), and just about every other subgroup of Americans you can find.
I’ve begun to find all of this really irritating. The focus of Bible readers should be on the Word of God proclaimed therein–not on anything else. If you like horses and want to read about them–read Black Beauty. The purpose of the Bible is to reveal God’s nature and His salvific work through Christ’s substitutionary atonement for our sins at Calvary. It is to bring people to faith in Christ. Every time we add something alien to that task to the pages of Scripture we diminish that purpose and obscure the Word.
Unfortunately the Church today is far too willing to accept the marketing of trinkets and trash in the name of living a Christian life, when what is really needed is not a mimicking of the culture around us but a turning toward the unadorned Word. Had God wanted additions to His Word, I dare say He would have had the writers of Scripture add them in the original autographs.