Christian publishing giant Thomas Nelson has released a new Bible with nationalistic facts, quotations and pictures scattered throughout scriptures. Called The American Patriot’s Bible, it was edited by Richard G. Lee, a former president of the Pastors’ Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Within this special edition of The American Patriot’s Bible, you will find a great volume of both information and inspiration revealing the ‘strong cord’ of the Bible’s influence that runs through the colorful fabric of our nation’s past and present,” Lee wrote in a promotion for the publication. “Joining with the sacred text are stories of American heroes, quotations from many of America’s greatest thinkers and beautiful illustrations that present the rich heritage and tremendous future of our nation. If you love America and the Scriptures, you will treasure this Bible.”
However, The American Patriot’s Bible is not without its critics, who charge that the publication promotes idolatry and glorifies nationalistic violence.
“It is hard to imagine anything that should be more offensive to people who revere God than for anyone to bolster their idolatrous nationalist mythology by appending it to the text of divine revelation,” Bruce Prescott told EthicsDaily.com in an email.
“It would have been much wiser for the publishers of the Patriot Bible to have read and heeded the warning at the conclusion of John’s Apocalypse: ‘I testify to everyone who hears the words of prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book,'” said Prescott, executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptist.
Greg Boyd, author of The Myth of a Christian Nation, also criticized the publication as “one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever witnessed coming from a Christian publishing house.” In particular, Boyd objects to the mixing of nationalist war images with the Gospels.
“Most remarkably, each Gospel (The Good News of Jesus Christ!) opens with a picture that includes soldiers struggling to raise a flag under the words ‘In God We Trust,'” noted Boyd, senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn. “When you consider the uniform and emphatic teaching of Christ and the New Testament authors that followers of Jesus are called to love and do good to our enemies, laying down our lives for them if necessary, this overt celebration of America’s violent victories over our national enemies is absolutely stunning.”
Promotional materials for The American Patriot’s Bible claim “stories of American heroes” are included with patriotic images, commentary and quotations throughout the pages of this edition of the New King James Version Bible. Another assertion offered is that the publication “intersects the teachings of the Bible with the history of the United States while applying it to today’s culture. Beautiful full-color insert pages spotlight America’s greatest thinkers, leaders and events that present the rich heritage and future of our great nation.”
In one promotional video, Lee offers his hope that the publication will “impact not only this generation but generations to come for our God and for our country.” Another promotional piece claims the “new Bible project is offering hope to rekindle the American spirit.”
Lee, the founding Pastor of First Redeemer Church in Atlanta, is a trustee at Liberty University and Liberty School of Law and a board member of the National Religious Broadcasters. The SBC’s LifeWay Christian Resources sells The American Patriot’s Bible.
Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor for EthicsDaily.com