Is your Bible good enough to eat? This strange question occurred to me when I heard an interesting conversation between a student and her teacher.
The young girl questioned the teacher about the famous clock in London.
"You must mean, 'Big Ben'," said the teacher.
"Oh no," said the student. "I mean, 'Old Ben.' And after that, can we please learn about the famine Bible in the British Museum, you know, the 'Gluten Free Bible'?"
The Bible has been subjected to numerous gimmicks through the ages. One of the most recent is the "Green Bible" introduced for the first time in 2008.
The Green Bible, naturally printed with soy ink on recycled paper, was unveiled with support from the National Council of Churches and various environmentalist groups. Together with the actual Bible, the binding contains a series of essays on radical environmentalism.
Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, wrote: "The Green Bible is a unique treasure for people who want to more fully live out the scriptural values of stewardship, love for their neighbors, and care for the underprivileged. It provides inspiration and valuable resources for contemplation, community building, and action on behalf of the planet."
The famous Bible the little girl struggled to remember had, of course, nothing to do with gluten. She was thinking of the Gutenburg Bible. The ethos of the Green Bible is different from that of Johannes Gutenberg who, in Mainz, in the 1450s, took the invention of movable type and leveraged it to make the Bible available to the masses for the first time.
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This iconic Gutenberg Bible is the gluten free version the little girl, in her mispronunciation, was thinking of. His Bible revolutionized the world and ushered in the age of the printed book. Forty-nine copies, or substantial portions of copies, survive, and they are considered to be among the most valuable books in the world.
The Green Bible is, by contrast, not designed to illuminate but to obfuscate. It is a marketing gimmick aimed to pander to a culture obsessed with green living and rising environmentalist sensibilities.
Richard Cizik, while still vice president for Governmental Affairs of the 30-million member National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), found the green letter Bible "exactly what the Church needs at this critical time," because it will become a tool to highlight what mankind needs, namely, "urgent changes in values, lifestyles and public policies to avert disastrous changes in climate."
Gutenburg's Bible was designed to bring the Word of God to men, but the Green Bible uses the Word of God as a tool, a Trojan horse, to slip in politically correct values, lifestyles and public policies that may have little or nothing to do with the Bible.
Before Gutenberg, book production required laborious copying by hand. Gutenburg had a dream of placing Bibles in the hands of the people who had, until that time, been forbidden by the church to possess Bibles. It was the explosion of access to the Word of God that liberated Western culture from shackles of superstition and brought multitudes immediate access to the light of the gospel. Without Gutenberg's invention, the Protestant Reformation would not have been possible.
Rather than seeing the Bible as the living Word of God, more powerful than any double-edged sword, the producers of the Green Bible see the Word of God as a marketing gimmick for the more important message of being green.
This emphasis is clear when Cizik notes that the green letter Bible is what the church needs at this critical time. Notice that he does not say the Bible is what the unbelieving world going to hell needs. We've had the Bible since Gutenberg, so what new thing is this to which he refers, this new thing that will save us from the horror of climate change? It seems Cizik thinks the church needs not so much the Word of God but the words in radical environmentalist essays wrapped together with the Bible.
Scriptures assure us that it is hell — not climate change — that is the great concern for mankind. Am I right with God? That is the critical question, not whether I have a small carbon footprint or have a green Bible.
Climate change is, in the grand scheme of things, an illusory existential threat as Scripture assures in Genesis 8:22: "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."
This change of emphasis contextually reframes God's gospel of salvation with environmentalism. The goal seems to be to try deflect the energies of Christians into environmentalist causes.
The word environment stems from a French word referring to everything. So environmental thinking becomes all-encompassing for many folk, a total ideology. They forget that the greatest crisis is not environmental, but fought each day in the hearts, heads, and hands of human beings. Our greatest enemy is death. And sin, properly defined by God, not the Environmental Protection Agency, is the cause of death.
Instead of submitting political preferences to the Biblical test of unerring wisdom, the danger that religiously motivated environmentalists succumb to is the urge to sift the Bible through the teeth of spurious Green metaphysical and moral directives.
Perhaps someone will soon come out with a Gluten Free Bible. Even if they use organic soy ink it is sure to be unappetizing. Let's forget about that and instead feast on the Bread of Life.