TEXTS OF TERROR: The World’s Most Frightening Bible?

American Patriot's Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America

American Patriot's Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America

I first came across this Bible courtesy of our cousins across the pond at STL USA (who themselves now face the indignity of being put up for sale by Biblica, with reassurances from Doug Lockhart that sound eerily reminiscent of Keith Danby’s reassurances about STL UK last year — but that’s another story…).

I hoped and prayed that it was some sort of sad joke — after all, who (apart from Israel) could truly lay claim to the Bible as part and parcel of their national heritage? But no, this aberration, complete with USA flag blended into the cover, is all too real; and now — according to a recent report in Christian RetailingThe American Patriot’s Bible has reached the terrifying position of being one of North America’s bestsellers, reaching No. 5 on amazon.com’s bestseller lists. Despite the title, there really is more than one American patriot.

In an age of global terror threats, when we should surely be seeking ways to bridge the gap between different cultures rather than to push them further apart, the last thing the world needs is a Bible branded with America’s — or any other country’s — identity. If the Bible is the Word of God, it is surely God’s Word for all people, for all nations. Is that not what scripture itself, what Jesus himself, teaches us? No doubt Thomas Nelson’s marketing people had only the best of intentions in mind in their shaping of this nightmare: to encourage the American people; but are their minds really so detached from reality that they can’t see the message that something like this conveys to the rest of the world?

If the “de-Christianisation” of Living Oasis means making a clean break from this sort of insanity, then I am so with Andy Twilley now; but if product such as this is the true face of Christianity in the 21st century then I am, indeed, ashamed of the Gospel. Becky Garrison is right: this must surely be one of those things that makes Jesus look at his Dad and go, “I died for this?”

I suppose we should be thankful for small mercies: they could have featured US Army tanks invading Iraq or Afghanistan on the cover…

Update 25/08/2010: Not US Army tanks, just a specially packaged pocket version for the troops, cunningly designed to match the uniforms. From the Nelson Newsroom:

A condensed pocket edition, bound in the new official MultiCam® fabric used on the U.S. Military’s uniforms and packs, minus the government’s infrared technology, is also available to inspire today’s modern-day patriots in the trenches.

The American Patriot’s Bible Editor Joins Glenn Beck Events

12 thoughts on “TEXTS OF TERROR: The World’s Most Frightening Bible?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention TEXTS OF TERROR: The World's Most Frightening Bible?: -- Topsy.com

  2. YIKES! What kind of fools are the publishers (and many Americans who are buying it) ? This shows how disconnected they are from the rest of the world’s views, and how dreadfully they’ve conflated their culture with true religion. I would not have believed it possible. But I’ve obviously been too optimistic.

  3. Having seen the antics of the terrible US Brewer Brothers demolishing the former SPCK Bookshops, nothing about Americans surprises me anymore. Americans seem totally convinced they are right and superior, hence “God is on their side”. Move over “junior partners” is their motto.

    • Hmmm… let’s beware of tarring all our American cousins with the same brush. There are as many — maybe more — good Americans as there are prize nutjobs. Becky Garrison, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, to name but a few who haven’t fallen for the American-way-is-God’s-way folly; and let’s not forget, we’ve spawned more than our fair share of religious nutjobs in our time with the likes of Ian Paisley, Richard Dawkins and organisations like the so-called “Christian Voice”…

      (and yes, before anyone asks, I do count Dickie Dorkins as a religious nutjob: his religion may be atheism but it’s as much a lunatic-fringed religion as any other)

      • I totally agree, lets not forget that many of our own “patriots”, the lunatic BNP, claim to spout their vile views in the name of my Jesus.

    • I agree with Phil. We all have our fair share of nutters – just that in the US they have access to a multi-million dollar publishing industry!

      The approach of this isn’t that different from some of the attitudes of Christians here in the UK in the 19th century when we were the superpower.

      • Yes, presumably if they had had ‘themed’ bibles back then we could have the ‘KJV British Empire bible’, or something similar. It might be interesting to speculate on what the content of that might have been and how anachronistic it would be today.

  4. Let’s be clear here.

    While this may not gel well with our british sensibilities, it is not nearly so dangerous as we may like to believe.

    Unlike Britain, and much of western europe, the United States is still, primarily, identified as a “Christian Nation”. One Nation Under God and all that.

    America has higher numbers of “Adherents” to the Christian religion than most other western nations, and, much higher religious attendance than any nation in the world where the Church is not run and mandated by the state.

    As a nation, unlike european nations, with much older histories, America was founded, and colonised by “Christians” and can legitimately claim a “Christian” heritage.

    Everything about the nation we now know was originally created based upon the principals found in the Bible.

    While I do not claim that i agree with, well, an awful lot of the things that Evangelical America, and this Bible claims are contained within it’s pages (Right to carry arms or Capitalism anyone???) This bible does not claim that all things American are of God, only that the history of the American people and the founding of the nation, are inextricably linked to the truths contained within the Word of God.

    And while it would be fair to say that it is probably not for anyone who doesn’t already identify themselves as an “American Patriot”, it is simply another in a long line of “culturally relevant” bibles, and is no more dangerous or devisive as bibles with features for women, teens, “Spirit Filled” people, orthodox believers or anything else.

    It is, in fact, a really interesting look at how the american nation came into being, and how that regularly intersected with the faith of the founders.

    Perhaps if more of us were more ready to wear our faith on our sleeve, and really allow it to shape our lives and actions, we would not be in the mess we find ourselves today.

    If you haven’t already, i strongly encourage you to take a look inside this bible.

    It is interesting if you are at all interested in the History of America, and the shaping of it’s culture.


    • With all due respect, Luke, I have to disagree: this is not simply another themed Bible: it’s a complete aberration.

      I guess patriotism can be a good thing at time of war if it helps defeat the likes of Hitler, but as Christians we are called to a better way, to a higher allegiance, as citizens of the Kingdom of God.

      It was largely their refusal to bow the knee to Caesar because of their allegiance to Jesus as Lord that got the early Christians into so much trouble. We are citizens of another country, another kingdom, another empire; and branding the Bible with any country’s flag offends more than ‘British sensibilities’ — I genuinely think this really is one of those things that must make Jesus wonder what on earth or heaven he died for. It’s a total twisting of everything that good news for all mankind is about.

      I wonder how the USA would respond if the Taliban released The Afghan Patriot’s Qur’an…?

  5. Hate flogging a dead horse, bringing up things which should have already been left for dead, but, as best as I can tell, you are judging a book by it’s cover. Have you actually had a look inside yet?

    It is a remarkably level headed, sensible publication, albeit with a little bit of a controversial (to you) title.

    It does not seek to claim that all things american are of God, nor that “Republican” evangelicalism is the Christianity as prescribed in the New Testament.

    It features republicans and democrats in equal measure, including a full page photo of current (Christian but also “liberal” Democrat) President Barack Obama, such controversial claims as that (Shock horror) many people throughout American history who fought oppression (slavery, women’s rights, racial equality etc) did so often because of their faith in God, or that (perish the thought) great preachers like Jonathan Edwards were actually (Dun Dun DUUUUNNNNN) Americans preaching to the early american colonies, and brought with him the “Great Awakening” which saw many, many people come to faith because of this teaching.

    It does not attempt to sugar coat history, it is quite open about that fact that many founders were not, in fact, Christians, or shining examples of men of God, claiming only that their worldview was shaped by that of the bible, as was most people’s at the time.

    I find it interesting, that, perhaps, that if this was called the “American History Bible” rather than the “American Patriots Bible” we would probably not be having such a discussion, and, indeed, that the whole reason that we find this so offensive (when clearly the people to whom it is aimed do not) is more to do with us than anything else.

    I have a number of american friends, and asked them what they thought of this, none had a problem, claiming that, if you were to pretend that the bible did not shape america, you would be distorting the truth. This came from Christians and Non-Christians alike, regardless of political or religious affiliation.

    When I raised your objection that “we answer to a higher authority” they did not disagree.

    Rather they said that they are:

    Christian First
    Human Second
    American Third
    Republican / Democrat Fourth.

    We are all shaped by our culture, Jesus was as much as anyone, continually referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth”, far more often than the norm, Jesus son of Joseph, identified by a particular place, or cultural identity (with which we have no problem), and his first act on this earth was to born in a particular place, (and interestingly, NOT Jerusalem, for anyone who would claim that the only time God cares about national identity is when it relates to the Jews).

    As I have said before, to try and separate Christianity, and the Bible in particular, from the history of a nation (which, of course, we all accept God allows to rise and fall anyway) is impossible.

    The nation was founded by people with a biblical worldview (that is to say, one shaped by the bible they had, whether it was the same one as the people of the bible times or not) and, as I have said, if we were perhaps a little more willing to let OUR faith shape the culture we find ourselves living in, rather than being so willing to bend and bow to every suggestion of the “Political Correctness” police, we would not be in quite the same mess we often find ourselves in.

    • Dead horse, Luke? Far from it: it’s big news: The American Patriots Bible Editor Joins Glenn Beck Events

      As for me, yes, guilty as charged, judging the book by its cover and by its title — because you and I both know that it’s covers and titles that sell books. Publishers spend a fortune on cover designs and snappy titles to grab readers’ attention — and that’s precisely what Thomas Nelson have done here. American History Bible would have been a more sensible title by far — but most publishers like most booksellers aren’t interested in sensible, they’re interested in sales.

      Do you think Thomas Nelson would have published this book if America wasn’t engaged in a war with the Taliban? If there wasn’t a hue and cry over the USA’s military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan? How many people who buy this book will read it any more than they read the Bible already? For most I strongly suspect it will simply be a trophy Bible to sit on the coffee declaring, “See, I’m an American patriot!” (a bit like children’s christening Bibles here, only God alone knows what they’re a trophy of, gathering dust in obscure corners…). How many of those soldiers who are sent the MultiCam fabric bound edition will sit there reading it anymore than they read the Bible already? A cursory glance at some of the commentary, perhaps…

      The content may well be all that you say — but Thomas Nelson aren’t selling content, they’re selling patriotism. That’s what’s wrong with it.

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