Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, criticized a newly released green-letter Bible. Published by HarperOne, the Bible is printed on recycled paper and with soy-based ink and a cotton/linen cover. Additionally, the Bible highlights passages about creation and the environment in green letters, much as many Bibles highlight the words of Jesus in red letters.
Mohler expressed his disagreement with the new green-letter Bible during the Oct. 13 broadcast of his radio show, “The Albert Mohler Program.” During the program, he also addressed issues related to environmental stewardship.
“I have some real concerns about this,” Mohler said about the green-letter Bible. “Getting to the bottom line in a lot of [these environmental issues] just isn’t easy. And printing certain verses in green actually, I think, probably doesn’t make it any easier.”
Mohler questioned if the green-letter Bible is actually environmentally friendly, claiming that many environmental initiatives actually use more energy and resources. He admitted that he did not know if that was true about the green-letter Bible.
“A lot of it just looks like feel-goodism,” Mohler explained. “‘I will feel better about myself if I buy a book that’s published with soy ink.’ Well, I want to know, is that actually ”I don’t mean just in theory ”is that actually ecologically friendly or are we just paying more money for something that makes us feel better?”
“And don’t give me the utopian language that I hear from so many in this movement about healing the earth, etc.,” Mohler added, “by buying, you know, a product with a linen cover and soy milk ”I mean, excuse me, soy ink. That isn’t going to pass muster with me as serious thinking.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, soy-based ink is more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based ink. Soy ink helps reduce pollution output by printers and is more degradable in landfills.
Mohler briefly noted that the green-letter Bible is in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), which he claimed “is not a version that’s been very attractive to evangelicals, and for good reason.”
Mohler also attacked the idea of red-letter Bibles since he believes that such editions wrongly put more emphasis on the words of Jesus than the other words of the Bible and because it is often difficult to know when Jesus was actually speaking in the text.
He argued that the green-letter Bible has the same type of problems but “even more so.” Mohler noted verses that he felt should not have been printed in green letters and argued that the green-letter Bible could draw attention away from more important theological issues.
Despite the criticism, Mohler called the green-letter Bible “an interesting experiment” and encouraged his audience “to take a look at it” at a local bookstore.
During the program, Mohler also admitted that many Christians have likely missed the importance of caring for creation, but he emphasized that he believed God was sovereign and therefore humans could not destroy the earth.
“There is a sense in which many evangelical Christians have clearly failed to understand the stewardship responsibility when it comes to creation,” Mohler stated. “[The world] is given to us for an exercise of stewardship. We are, as it were, given the responsibility to care for this garden. But it’s not ours; it belongs to the Creator.”
Mohler criticized Christians who focus entirely on the “dominion” that humans have been given over the earth and thus ignore the scriptural call for stewardship. He also criticized those who deny that humans are to have dominion.
Additionally, Mohler attacked the “ecological exaggeration” and “scare-mongering” of those who warn about the dangers of global warming. After former Vice President Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, Mohler attacked Gore and urged Christians to focus on saving souls instead of the environment.
The green-letter Bible includes a forward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and essays by Christian thinkers like Brian McLaren, Pope John Paul II and N. T. Wright. It also includes suggestions for getting involved and making environmental changes. Over 1,000 verses are printed in green.
Earlier this year, the Baptist Center for Ethics launched TheGreenBible.org, which is a warehouse of information on the biblical mandate to care for the environment ”and what people of faith can and should do. Unconnected to HarperOne’s green-letter Bible, the site includes numerous articles, columns and videos.
At a luncheon during the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, BCE executive director Robert Parham introduced Gore with a plaque honoring him as the 2007 Baptist of the Year and with a Bible with a green cover.
“The Bible is God’s green book,” Parham said. “The green Bible gives us the responsibility to guard the garden. The green Bible calls us to love our neighbors. And my friends the only way we can love our neighbors across time is to leave them a decent place to live.”
Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor to EthicsDaily.com.
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Brian Kaylor is editor and president of Word&Way, associate director of Churchnet, and a contributing editor for EthicsDaily.com.