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Saturday, July 29, 2023

We The People Bible: One of the most terrible products I've seen lately

This post is going to honk a lot of people off, probably.  Whether it cuts one way or another.  I know and accept that.

First of all, the older I've gotten the more I have come to understand something.  Mainly, that the republican form of government that the Founders gave us in the Constitution of the United States is ideal only for a people who believe in something higher than man.  Whether you call that something God, or Yahweh, or the Universe, or whatever, the Constitution is best suited for those who hold themselves accountable to that greater entity.  I believe that the past several decades have proven that in the hands of they who believe that man is the be-all/end-all of law and life, that weak attempt at imitating democratically-elected republican government has led to disaster on multiple fronts.

So yes: I do believe that the American government is intended for people who believe in greater authority than their own.  It is where all true law comes from.  It has been ever since Moses came down that mountain with those stone slabs.

I believe in the Constitution.  I also believe that the Declaration of Independence was the work of a magnificent assemblage of some of the greatest minds from throughout the colonies.  I think that the Bill of Rights is not taught about nearly enough in the majority of our schools.  The Pledge of Allegiance... ehhhh, I elaborated on that subject ten years ago, about why I cannot in good conscience say it (but I have absolutely no problem when others choose to recite it).

For saying these things, some are going to declare that I am a "Christian nationalist", a "Christian reconstructionist", that I have a colonial mind, that I'm a "right-wing fanatic" or... good HEAVENS... a "MAGA Republican" (whatever that is supposed to be).

Well, that's one audience that I will have worked up in a frothing frenzy.  Now it's time for the other...

A couple of weeks ago an advertisement began popping up on Facebook.  Usually this sort of thing just breezes past me.  But this particular item severely caught my attention.  Because it's the dire opposite of a lot of things that have shaped and molded my personal theology almost since the beginning of my Christian faith.

It's called the We The People Bible.  You can find it in a Google search easily enough, I'm not posting a link to it here.  As you can see it's got an embossed leather cover.  Said cover, in the words of the website, "was designed with the patriot in mind and features a vertical reversed American flag design that represents a country in distress."  Toward the back of the book there is to be found the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and its amendments, and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Oh bruddah.  How many ways can we talk about how wrong this thing is?

The We The People Bible is the very worst elements of what I've seen from most of a lifetime of exposure to Christian Reconstructionism: a body of tenets orbiting the notion that God has ordained Christians to seize power, so as to remake the United States into a theocracy based solely on the Holy Bible.

The problem with that is, that this theocracy is going to be forced upon people, whether they like it or not.  And when that is the driving influence of such a movement, the entire thing becomes antithetical to the concept that God gave us this country to govern ourselves.  America is supposed to be the land of a people who choose to seek God's guidance, as best he or she might understand that.  It's not meant to be a land controlled by those who believe their interpretation is to be imposed under penalty of punishment.  America is not like places in the Mid-East where "blasphemers" are beheaded and homosexuals are throw from the top of tall buildings.  But, I could spend all day writing about what I've seen over the years regarding this.

The heart-meat of the matter is this: I definitely have no problem with people reading the Constitution, the Bill of Right, the Declaration of Independence, or any other document pertaining to the founding and organizing of our government.  In fact, I want people to read those.  But to include even those hallowed parchments within a volume of scripture along with the fundamentals of Judeo-Christian theology, is tantamount to making them equivalent to those sacred writings.  They are not.  And I can't but think that the Founders and many others, including the scholars who compiled the King James Version (the translation that the We The People Bible uses), would be horrified that documents of this temporal realm are now on the same level as inspired writings.  This is the worst grief that I have with this product.

I said that's the worst grief.  Not necessarily the one that sticks out as being either the most tacky or visibly sacrilegious.  The upside-down flag on the cover of this abomination is ridiculous.  Those who study scripture will absolutely know that the Bible teaches us that those who give God their highest priority are not to be a people living in fear and anxiety.  Isaiah 41:10 tells us "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

So it is that the reversed flag - which is supposed to be reserved only for the most dire emergencies - comes across as a product of the politics of the era of this book's publication.

But consider: the publishers of the We The People Bible have literally wrapped scripture up in the American flag.  In doing so they claim custody of the Bible.  They want it to be known that the Bible is theirs to interpret and to decree from.  Instead of letting holy scripture work in their lives to affect and change their hearts, they seek to change scripture instead, according to the powers and politics of this frail and brittle mortal realm.

I might have just glossed right over the ads I've seen for the We The People Bible, had it not been for an intensive study I participated in college with others about modern religious thinkers.  The most influential person we studied the works of was Stanley Hauerwas.  And one of his books that we read was his 1993 tome Unleashing the Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America.  The cover of which depicts a Bible literally wrapped up in an American flag.  Unleashing the Scripture became one of the most influential books during those early days of my Christian life.  I still feel it resonating whenever I'm tackling the subject of Christianity and its relationship with culture, and especially with politics.  And I got to say, that the We The People Bible comes across as a dark parody of Unleashing the Scripture, or maybe a Bizarro-World incarnation of Hauerwas's work.

It comes down to this: the Bible, I have no doubt about this, was the principle guide for the Founders when they set about liberating America and then crafting her principles into codified law.  I believe that the Bible has influenced history as no other book has.  But the Bible is supposed to define men.  Men are not meant to define the Bible.  If we are to believe that the Bible is perfect and inerrant (regardless of which respectable version one chooses to draw from) then we should be prepared to accept how it will apply to our lives.  To mold us and conform us to its image.  The Bible is not to be shaped and drawn out according to the fashions of the time.

And that is what the We The People Bible is an attempt to do.  Whether its publishers intended or not, it is become a weapon against those who are in disagreement with them.  Yes, the Bible is as a mighty sword, that divides between truth and false.  It can absolutely be trusted.  But when its publication is intended to be a tangible symbol of political power, well... it has gone too far and become something that is anything but in adherence to scripture.

Let us look not to carnal weaponry for our deliverance and salvation.  There is a greater Kingdom for us to build up and preach a citizenship of.  It is those edifices we are meant for, not the pale shadows of this fallen land.  God will be the judge of our efforts: Were they for His glory, or for our own?

I pray that what we do, will be done and has been done for Him alone.


Anonymous said...


Peter M. said...

I can't figure you out. Are you a liberal or conservative?

Chris Knight said...

Neither conservative or liberal. But at times I've been accused of being each of those.

To be fair, I do tend to favor conservatism, with some libertarian traits, believing in personal responsibility.

SGOTGDS said...

Yeah that's not cool. I found their site and this really is a terrible product. What if someone from another country wants to read the Bible and this is the only copy they could find? They may not be okay with that. Bible should be above nationalism.

Anonymous said...

Chris, you're thinking of it wrong. Ignore the things that don't belong in a Bible, like the Declaration and Constitution, and focus on the fact that it's a BIBLE. Someone could still come to have faith in God because of it, ignoring all the other stuff. You never know..