A More Adaptable Bible?

A Critique of The Bible and Its Influence

Bible Literacy Project, 2005

Quotes from this book are indented and begin with a page number. Comments by Berit Kjos are either bracketed or extend to the page margin.

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Does the celebrated new textbook -- produced by the Bible Literacy Project -- really teach Biblical literacy? Or does it immunize children against the actual message of the Bible? Does it help children to understand God's written message to His people? Or does it train students to view that message from the world's perspective? Does it help students to know God? Or does it suggest that our sovereign God is merely one among many gods?

In other words, does the new Bible Curriculum prompt readers to reinterpret the Bible according to politically correct guidelines? If so, why? What values, attitudes and thinking does it instill in our children's minds?

Let's look at some of the clues first, then consider the more subtle and seductive obstacle to understanding the Bible. Notice how The Bible and its Influence -

- Begins with a wrong perspective

Page 8: "You are going to learn about the language, literary forms, plot lines, characters and contents of the Bible so that you can have a better understanding of literature, art and culture."

But its appealing messages will prepare students to see the Bible through the filter of the world and its values -- not to see the world through the filter of the Bible. This twist -- especially in the context of group dialogue -- would prompt Christian students to adapt their understanding of God's Word to our changing culture.

- Redefines Biblical terms

Page 215: "Parable. Jesus taught with parables to put his message about God's reign into language that all his hearers would grasp immediately."

That's not true! His parables would hide the truth from the world, not simplify or expose it. Ponder His words:

"And the disciples came and said to Him, 'Why do You speak to them in parables?' He answered and said to them, 'Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. ... Therefore I speak to them in parables...."  Matthew 13:10-13

"His disciples asked Him, saying, 'What does this parable mean?' And He said, 'To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
'Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’" Luke 8:9-10

Page 119: "The future ruler would bear the name 'The lord is our righteousness." The Hebrew word righteous also means 'legitimate.' The implication may be that the future king would rule in such a way as to demonstrate that 'the Lord is our legitimate ruler.'"

Not true! [See note]. Minimizing the meaning of the word righteous (and God's righteousness) undermines all that the Bible teaches about His holiness, love, justice and redemption. Unless we begin to grasp the amazing wonder and purity of His righteousness, we cannot truly appreciate His moral law or our own need for forgiveness and redemption.

- Prompts students to question God's sovereignty, wisdom and justice.

Page 38: "Do you think Adam and Eve received a fair deal as described in Genesis [3]? ...  Most Jewish readings of this chapter reject the idea of a permanent, inherited spiritual disability stemming from the actions of Adam and Eve.... Eve did not know good from evil, how could God blame them for disobeying?"

Page 156: "And if God allows evil things to happen, can God honestly be described as good? This puzzle remains essentially unsolved, though various believers in various times have developed their own ways of resolving or living with the paradox."

To answer these questions, students would need a Biblical understanding of God's righteousness, holiness and revealed plan for ultimate justice. The watered down messages in this book only heightens the confusion. In fact, you will probably find many of the excerpts confusing.

Page 160: "'The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.' [Job 42:12] This ending, though pleasing in some ways, has failed to satisfy various readers over the centuries."

Unlike today's people-pleasers, God isn't in the business of adapting His ways to what satisfies the world. His answer to Job -- the majestic expression of His marvelous sovereignty, wisdom, and concern for His creatures -- should bring all of us to our knees in humility, repentance and adoration of such a glorious God and Father! 

- Blends pagan images with Biblical references (an unholy synthesis)

Page 101: [In the context of 1 Kings 5] "The masons and builders developed a complicated set of symbols that invested their work with mystical aspects.... These symbols in turn were incorporated into the philosophy and practice of the Freemasons…. Hiram's pillars... appear frequently in Masonic imagery (as shown here on a Masonic apron)."

Page 104: [Description of a painting titled "Elijah and the Ravens"] "...contemporary Chinese painter He Qi incorporates elements of Buddhist monasticism... into his cubist-inspired portrait of Elijah."

Page 147: "The cardinal virtues... are four in number. They are often personified as female figures holding symbolic objects." ..."Justice is the habit of fairness and honesty, as well as willingness to consider the needs of others equally with, or even ahead of, one's own desires."

God's justice is far greater than what this definition implies. In this demeaning context, it is linked to a female figure (often presented as the Greek goddess of justice).


- Welcomes a universal or pagan view of God:

Page 53: "Muslims honor Abraham as the first monotheist, worshipper of the one true God they call Allah.... This shared respect for Abraham makes the long-standing conflicts among Jews, Christians, and Muslims--from the medieval crusades to today's Middle Easter clashes -- surprising on one hand and understandable on the other." [No mention of Muhammad's bloody jihads and destruction of Christian communities around the Mediterranean -- from Spain to India]

 Page 53:"Look for information on ancient sacrifices. Discuss what you discover. Then, draft a resolution in covenant language that you think would resolve the conflict."

 Page 53:"Pore through the newspaper or a news magazine to find some story about human conflict. Then, draft a resolution in covenant language that you think would resolve the conflict. Share your draft."

- Undermines the authority of Scriptures:

Page 197:  "For many Christians this sin was an original sin that infected the whole human race and was handed on through conception and birth. Such an interpretation is the foundation for a belief in the need for a redeemer who would make it possible to shed that original sin. There is no concept of original inherited sin in rabbinic Judaism…

Page 29: Other origin stories tell of many different gods who themselves are created, and who work together or fight against one another to create out of the remains of previous creations.  In contrast the first part of Genesis describes one God who is self sufficient, powerful and benevolent. ... God creates not from leftovers but out of that chaos...."  "The Creator wields the compass of a master architect to bring order out of chaos."

But was there chaos? No. There was nothing -- "the earth was without form, and void" (Genesis 1:2) -- until He, the eternal One, created!

Page 43: "The account of the Tower of Babel .... is a reversal of Genesis 1. Instead of the use of language to create and unify, God used language to divide and scatter. God brought chaos out of order. This kind of inverted symmetry (a literary device known as chiasm) is a feature of many Biblical narratives."

Page 181: "From the Book of Daniel, then, come images that are associated with the so-called 'end times'....   Try your hand at doing some apocalyptic writing."

Page 357: "The Western understanding of the movement from suffering to redemption and the notion of an end time have been influenced by the Book of Revelation."

Page 211: "The gospels are not histories—certainly not as history is defined today."

- Ridicules Biblical warnings and prophecy

Page 117: "You’ve probably seen cartoon or movie depictions of the prophet of doom, a shaggy bearded individual in ragged robes, ranting from a soapbox or wearing a sandwich board sign that reads, 'The end is near'”…

Page 181: "From the Book of Daniel, then, come images that are associated with the ‘so-called’ end times." … "Try your hand at doing some apocalyptic writing…"

Page 45: [This confusing quote by Margaret Crook ends with an important warning by the editors] "More than one Protestant, into whose youthful conception this character [Satan] came like a new planet -- in those otherwise dreary hours of 'Sabbath-reading' -- still believe in his heart that the Satan of Milton is the 'true' Satan.... To a greater extent than any other English poet, the Bible influenced John Milton. More than any other English poet, he has influenced the Bible." ...  "This comment could apply, indeed to the whole creation account. Milton's vivid images... have influenced how many in the Western world look at the Bible."

Distorts the nature of God

Page 276: "The notion was that Jesus rescued people from enslavement to sin and death first by coming to Earth and then by going into the realm of Hades destroying it and conquering the evil one.  His was a rescue action like the Passover of the Jews and it was described in similar terms."

Page 125: "The image of beloved children.... was used to emphasize God's inability to abandon the wayward Israel."

Page 72: "God’s help comes with strings attached – commandments or laws that the Israelites must obey in order to keep faith."

- Gives false information

Page 73: "Moses was forever changed, the skin of his face glowed with rays of light so stunning that he thereafter had to wear a veil when speaking with humans."

But the New Testament tells us that Moses "put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away." (2 Corinthians 3:12-13) In other words, Moses continued to cover his face to hide the fact that the radiance would fade after each encounter with God."

- Points to psychology

Page 39: "...this one story [Cain and Abel] is the basis of all human neurosis--and if you take the fall along with it, you have the total of psychic troubles that can happen to a human." Journal of a Novel; The East of Eden Letters.

Page 54: "Discover... the meaning of Jacob's dream and his wrestling match."

Page 54: "Why are dreams (both waking and sleeping ones) important avenues for self-understanding?"

-  Teaches the "new way of thinking" (the dialectic process)

The Bible and Its Influence illustrates the dialectic process outlined in Finding Common Ground: A First Amendment Guide to Religion and Public Education by Charles Haynes and ACLU author/lawyer Oliver Thomas.

Webster's dictionary defines the word "dialectic" as: "(Hegelian philosophy) a logical subjective development in thought, from a thesis through an antithesis to a synthesis, or ... a continuous unification of opposites."

Georg Hegel, an occultist whose philosophy laid the foundation for Communist brainwashing, is not easy to understand. But we need to grasp the basics in order to equip our children to resist his fast-spreading "education" method. Used in churches as well as schools, organizations and community forums, it is used to shape global citizens and adapt the masses to a new kind of community.

In the dialectic process, there must be two or more sides to everything. Nothing is absolute; everything changes. The group is trained to disapprove if any member fails to demonstrate respect, appreciation and tolerance for all beliefs and positions that clash with his own. Instead he must listen with empathy and understanding and join the quest for "common ground."

The issues may change from week to week, but with each group meeting, this dialectic process becomes increasingly habitual and "normal." If a person has a particular belief (thesis) concerning a current issue, he listens and identifies with an opposite or conflicting notion (antithesis). Led by a trained facilitator, the dialogue moves toward a new synthesis, a blend of the two opposites. Week after week, the former synthesis becomes the new thesis. It, in turn, blends with other new views (antithesis) and a new synthesis is found. This process goes on and on..... Change becomes the norm and opposites such as black and white come closer and closer to a perfect and mutual gray.

In their mandatory quest for common ground, students learn that there must be two or more sides to everything. All group members must present their personal views, receive group feedback, and seek an evolving consensus. Thesis + antithesis = synthesis (which becomes the new thesis) + new antithesis = new synthesis.... The main objective is learning dialectic reasoning and group thinking, not the content. Whatever the latter brings could be changed tomorrow.

As a result of migration into every American community, a high school class is likely to include students who favor Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, witchcraft and the various versions of "Christianity." In this postmodern setting, even the Christians may have a weak foundation in Biblical knowledge. How would this book and its discussion questions sway their minds and weaken their faith? Remember, each session will cause the members to stretch their convictions a little more... step by step... until all have yielded up their certainties and willingly embrace the ever-changing group synthesis.

This mind-changing process is essential to the fulfillment of today's utopian vision of spiritual unity, social solidarity and global peace. But it brings control and oppression, not peace and unity. Consider how the following quotes and questions from the book will support this manipulative process. Pay special attention to opposites. They provide the needed tension and conflict to energize the discussion and seal the changes in unsuspecting minds:

Page 163: "Do absolute good and evil exist?"


Page 247: [The movie Matrix, which teaches Gnosticism]  "Biblical allusions are heavily used throughout the film. ...Neo... is likened to Christ. The script does this overtly when Choi says, 'Hallelujah. You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ.'... [T]he theme of open-minded examination of reality communicates a major theme of the Gospel of John: 'And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:32) ... Followers of Jesus see this release as coming through a faith that transcends the here and now."

Page 30: "While some Christians read Genesis as a literal account of how God created the world, most Christians and Jews read Genesis for a different sort of revelation, for the what and why of creation rather than the how. And of course, it is possible to read the text both ways."

Page 31: "The English term dominion used in Genesis 1:28 has a more gentle and familial ring in the Hebrew.  It gives the sense that the relationship of all creatures is familial and friendly."

Page 31: "How might Genesis 1:28 be used to justify either or both sides of environmental debates or animal rights legislation?

Page 34: "Sir Francis Bacon... wrote, 'There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; first the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures, which express His power.' The idea that creation has purpose and order may also help spur progress and reform, and may encourage optimistic approaches to social problems."

      "According to Genesis, human beings are a separate creation. Humans are the only creatures made in the image of God. By contrast, some traditions and philosophies see humans as no more or less sacred than other living creatures."

Page 35: Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) stated in his novel The Brothers Karamazow, "If there is no God, then all things are permitted. Find this passage and read it in context.  Then, write a short story about a world in which all things are permitted."

Page 35: "Look up some examples of other ancient literature and mythology of the origins of the world (such as Enuma Elish, Gilgamesh, or Praise of the Pickax). Compare what you read there with the first two chapters of Genesis. Share your comparisons."

Page 71: "Research, prepare and present a report on the significance of Moses... Include information on historical figures who have been compared to Moses."

Page 116: "...liberal Jews, mainline Protestant Christians and Roman Catholics see the Book of Isaiah in three parts written by three different people at three different times." 

Page 149: "Create a sitcom that shows wisdom and folly. The situation should set up the folly."

Page 19: "Jewish reading of Scripture is not overly concerned with establishing one ‘correct’ reading, and many of the greatest scholars of the tradition have been content to entertain several seemingly opposed interpretations of a single passage."

- Reflect the authors' biases

Page 51: [This story of Sodom and Gomorrah leaves out the sin of homosexuality that caused God’s judgment to fall.]

Page 61: "Owen saw war as a cruel tragedy in which the actions of elderly diplomats, generals and government leaders result in the death of young soldiers..... His poem 'The Parable of the Old Man and the Young' gives a darker, more cynical ending to the Genesis account of the binding of Isaac." 

Page 65: "American writer and reporter Lincoln Steffen’s 1926 defense of Leninist (Communist) politics was called ‘Moses in Red.’"

Page 36: "Adam is clearly bewildered while Eve is confident and knowing." [based on picture]

Page 365: [Almost a full page promotion of UNESCO] "The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has dedicated an entire decade to the pursuit of universal literacy.... United States, which recently rejoined UNESCO after an absence of eighteen years, has set aside $333 million for international primary, secondary and college education. Of that amount, about $100 million is to be spent in Africa."

- Communitarian suggestions (See Communitarianism & the Third Way)

Page 258: "…presented only part of the proceeds to the Christian community….  Today, there's a revived interest in monasticism and common life. Many Christian communities based on the descriptions in the Acts of the apostles still exist."

Page 261: "Research some contemporary communities (for example, Bruderhof, Focolare, or Opus Dei) practicing a form of common life based on the Acts.... What impact do these communities have on society?"

Page 187: "The interfaith movement that emerged from Pastor Youngblood’s challenge became known as the Nehemiah Housing Program.… These programs were supported by initiatives sponsored by the federal government."

Page 123: "Pick some social ill or problem that you think needs addressing. Then write a 'prophetic' message in the style of one of the three prophets to call attention to the situation. You can use an oracle, a vision, a parable, or even a rant. Try to use language and images that will communicate to an audience of our contemporaries.

Page 72: "But how will this community manage itself without a common enemy." [A dialectic suggestion. Tension and conflict are needed to persuade the public to accept radical changes.]

Page 255: "Of what communities are you a member? How were these communities formed?

Page 369: "These two teenagers have volunteered their time for Habitat for Humanity…"

Page 307: "Andrew Carnegie made his huge fortune providing iron and steel for the railways.... To resolve the contradiction between creation of wealth and society's needs, he developed the notion of the 'gospel of wealth.' He lived up to his notion and gave away his fortune to projects to benefit society." [He still kept plenty for his family]

Page 163: "[Thomas] Hobbes used the biblical description of leviathan, the great beast subject to God alone, as a metaphor for the power of the state, the only institution he believes is capable of offering security and stability in a troubled world!

    "When people are living in a state of war, whether literal or symbolic, Hobbes suggests that their only recourse is to confer all their power and strength upon one person, or upon one assembly of people that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, into one will.... This is the generation of that great leviathan, or rather to speak more reverently, of that 'mortal god' to which we owe under the 'immortal God' our peace and defense. 

    "Hobbes' vision, though pessimistic and subject to exploitation by dictatorial sovereigns and states, pave the way for later theories of the social contract, which influenced the development of American forms of democracy."


Page 19: "How do laws such as the Ten Commandments restrict…. Especially when people live in groups...?"

At the end of this textbook is a glossary. It defines the word "Cult" as: "A small group of people with great devotion to a system of religious beliefs." Some of us would fit that definition -- not because we distort God's Word but because we love it. It's no secret that those who refuse to conform to the ever-changing synthesis of beliefs and values, will be despised as narrow-minded, intolerant fundamentalists -- and perhaps cultists as well -- no matter how willing we are to share God's love and wisdom with all we meet.

No matter what the world demands, we need to follow our Lord. And He tells us that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:16-17

"...if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." Galatians 1:9-10

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither."
Psalm 1:1-3

Definition of Righteousness from Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament by Harris, Archer and Waltke (Moody Press, 1980), pages 752-754: 

        "...righteousness is exhibited only through conformity to standards set out in the world of God..... "righteousness" consisted in obedience to God's law and conformity to God's nature.... All must become new personas whose actions are government by the law of God. Righteous conduct issues from a new heart. (Ezekiel 36:25-27) Habakkuk puts it another way: the just shall live by faith." (Habakkuk 2:4)....

       "In the Old Testament, to be innocent and to be righteous were one and the same....

       "The Lord is the just judge. (2 Chronicles 12:6)... Therefore His standards, His judgments set out in His word are righteous. (Psalm 119:144)... God's hate of sin and love of righteousness express his essential righteousness. Therefore righteousness and judgment are the habitation of God's throne, i.e. they always characterize his actions. " (Psalm 97:2)

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