Bible Religious Right

“The New Small Bible” – Simple, Easy to Wield, But Not Biblical

I. A recent commenter on this site was apparently using the “New Small Bible.”

From the comment I learned that “Liberals” beliefs range to “all … unsupported and unchristian beliefs. Their views cannot be supported in any Bible I have every studied.”

This commenter clearly has a copy of the Christian Republicans’ “New Small Bible,” a brilliant new edition that makes holy thinking and holy living a lot simpler. It leaves out the vast majority of Biblical moral teaching, from the Pentateuch through Revelation, excluding especially the prophets and Jesus.

  • So the New Small Bible is much easier to carry around (no insignificant matter),
  • presumably has much larger print, good for us old foks,
  • AND it is much easier to understand and apply –
    • especially when it comes to applying it to other people, which is the point, after all.

It includes (depending on the particular version) two to five or so moral precepts. Some of them are not emphasized or even mentioned in the Old Big Bibles many of us had grown used to over the years. But if a couple of priorities they wanted in their new Bible were not already there, they just added them in.

That was no real problem for the editors; the new priorities could be copied directly from Republican talking-point memos or Christian Coalition handouts, and they are really quite brief.

II. I guess Jerry Falwell uses the New Small Bible too.

In a ‘conversation’ he had with (against, actually) Jim Wallis of Sojourners, as Wallis recounted it, “Tavis first asked Falwell to name a “short list” of the values issues that were important to him. It turned out to be a very short list indeed.

  • All the Religious Right leader could talk about was the gay marriage amendment. That was it.”

Now THAT’s a Short Bible! How handy.

III. Rick Warren, wealthy and famous for things like the fairly good psychology in The Purpose Driven Life, also uses a New Small Bible at least some of the time.

Here are some excerpts from an editorial at in which Robert Parham discusses Warren’s “Small Bible.” (Parham is Exec Dir of the Baptist Center for Ethics.)

“For those who accept the Bible as God’s Word … there are five issues that are non-negotiable,” wrote Warren, a Southern Baptist, to fellow pastors across the country. “To me, they’re not even debatable, because God’s Word is clear on these issues.

  • “Abortion,
  • stem-cell harvesting,
  • homosexual marriage,
  • human cloning and
  • euthanasia

These were non-negotiable issues about which Warren said the Bible was clear.

Warren offered no evidence from the biblical witness to support his assertions…. Nor did he bother to explain how he came up with a list that ignores the teachings of Jesus, the Hebrew prophets, and the Mosaic code….

How is it that a Baptist pastor’s language and list are identical to those of a rightwing Catholic? [Karl Keating, President of “Catholic Answers”] …. Warren’s position is really Keating’s position. The only difference is that Warren did not credit Catholic moral tradition for his argument. Instead, he claimed that he got it from the Bible, something that Keating doesn’t claim.

The problem here is twofold.

  • First, Warren didn’t give credit where credit was due….
  • [Second] Warren reduced the Bible’s moral agenda. The biblical witness speaks directly to a host of issues –
    • earth care,
    • economic justice,
    • fair treatment of workers
    • and care for the poor.
  • The biblical witness does NOT speak directly to stem-cell harvesting and cloning, since these are new, technology-driven issues.
  • Moreover, to dismiss the war in Iraq as a debatable issue is to dismiss both
    • the teachings of Jesus, which are clear, and
    • Just War Theory, which clearly says that the preemptive war in Iraq is morally unjust. ….

Warren reads from a very small Bible.

IV. I admit that the Old Big Bible is notoriously difficult to deal with.

But unlike The New Small Bible, it has the advantages of Divine origin, of very long-standing repute, and of being incredibly wise and nourishing if handled as it deserves to be handled.
Since the New Small Bible is none of those things, I’m going to stick with the Big Old one. I want to hear from the Word of God, not the Word of Rove. Sadly, that leaves many Republican preachers without a whole lot to say to me.

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