02 August 2005

I know. I know. But this was just too disturbing to let it pass without comment

Less than twelve hours after I said I was going to take a break, and here I am. But 1) I don't have my new computer yet, and 2) something has already got me really torqued this morning. Blogging about it was the only thing (short of breaking some furniture) I could think to do to blow off steam. So here goes:

A colleague of mine whose interest was piqued by last week's discussion of publishers' attempts to contextualize the Bible for urban youth went and purchased a copy of Real: The Complete New Testament. He reports that it really is "Da Shizzle BAM Bizzle."


Here's the basic idea: notes have been inserted dealing with "timely" topics in hip terms that, frankly, try much too hard to make the Bible cool enough for street punks. Some of the inserted material is so clumsy and so tasteless (not to mention racist) that I wouldn't even try to give a full description here.

But to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, let's just say that smack in the middle of Acts 7 and the biblical account of the stoning of Stephen, there's an utterly inappropriate sidebar about sex, titled "How far is too far?" discussing whether a certain technique technically qualifies as "fornication."

Then there are top-ten lists throughout, including "Hot 10 Ways to Know if a Man is Into You." (Number six: "Brings you around his boys.")

And then there's the "Hot 10 Best Cars" (starting with "Rolls Royce Phantom" at number 10, and culminating in "Maybach" at number 1.) Just what urban youth need to be encouraged to think about, huh?

There's also a list of "Hot 10 Movies You Should Have in Your Collection"—starting with "Dogma" (an overtly blasphemous and ostensibly comedic cinematic catastrophe); including "Lord of the Rings (trilogy)"; and culminating, predictably, in "The Passion of the Christ." (The trilogy counts as only one movie in urban math, so young gangsta couch potatoes will be happy to know that there are actually a dozen movies in the must-have "Hot 10.") I can hear a budding gang-banger protest, "But ma! My Bible says I need to have 'Remember the Titans' in my collection."

Directly across the page from the movie list is a sidebar where a smiling girl answers the question, "What has been the greatest source of pain in your life?" Now the gang-bangers might have a hard time relating to this girl, for two reasons: 1. she doesn't seem angry enough, what with that smile and all. (See cover for some folks with more street cred.) And 2. her answer suggests she has been isolated from the normal pains of urban culture:

"What has been the greatest source of pain in your life?" The most pain I've ever experienced was when my ex-boyfriend broke up with me. I was all into him, but he wasn't feeling me. I did some crazy stuff to try to hold onto him. Some of the stuff I did made me look crazy. I learned that if it's love you don't have to go off all the time.


Eugene Peterson: take note. In the next edition of The Message, that would be a good paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:5: "If it's love you don't have to go off all the time."

Finally, here's an item from page 240. A gentleman with rasta dreads answers the question, "What has been the greatest source of joy in your life?"—

My mother is the bomb! I have the dopest mother in the world. We can hang, kick-it and talk to each other.

There's a CD glued inside the back cover. I didn't have the courage to listen. All the "Christian" rap music I've ever heard is just too dope for me, if you know what I mean.

Phil's signature


Matthew Carroll said...

No, no, Phil, you's da shizzle BAM bizzle!

By the wizzle, if you want you can get rid of the pizzle "Next Blog" bizzle at the top of your page, fo' shizzle.

I have instrizzles posted at:

Tony Kevin said...

seriously. That is amazingly sad. I'm getting a copy. Just so I can have an example of what not to buy.

Don A. Elbourne Jr. said...

OK Phil, you convinced me. When I first heard about these Bibles in magazine format and read some of the nebulous criticism, I thought people were just being overly critical. I thought - what's the difference between a leather bound traditional looking Bible, for conservative styled Christians with study notes directed toward relatively educated church folk and a glossy covered copy of the same scripture text, more heavily illustrated with notes aimed to communicate to a particular demographic?

Well, I see the problems with these products cut deeper than that. I agree with you. This sounds ridiculous. I still hold that a magazine formatted Bible could work - but obviously this one has missed the mark.

Ronnie said...

You are justifiably torqued.

God, have mercy.

Patrick Chan said...

Yikes, this makes my stomach groan, too...

Matthew Self said...

That almost makes me appreciate Gail Riplinger.

Phil Johnson said...

I quote from the Urban Dictionary:

1. gang bangin

to roll with a crew or gang; if you are a gang banger you most likely slang dope and are involved in gang wars

1. gang banger
some one who bangs(kills) gangster's
That fool over there killed someone from the crips, he's a gangbanger

2. gang banger

a hoodlum, who gang bangs [i.e., who perpetrates violence against other hoodlums] and who is in a gang and has shot more than 1 gang banger


In answer to the question that was raised: Yes, the term is used all the time in America to describe gang members. It has no necessary connotation about sex crimes.

I'm going to delete the vulgar definition that was posted. I appreciate the concern about propriety, though

Efrayim said...

It seems that idea for these bible rags is not to bring His people out of the world (Babylon), but rather to make sure they stay there and are comfortable in their religious delusion.

YHVH's fisherman don't use worldly bait to fish, they have come out of the this present world and are the bait in the Master's hand. He is looking for His people.

Sounds like those other folks are looking for whatever they can get.


Renee said...

Is this the equivalent of bible "ebonics"?

Jeremy Weaver said...

We agree! Very perceptive on your part.

Renee said...

As a Christian who happens to be Black, this all just falls in to the same divisiveness (and racism as Phil mentions) that our society pushes in the cloak of "multi-cultaralism" and diversity (but I won't go there today :-) ).

As Efrayim said, we are to come out of the world. I heard an interview on a radio broadcast where they were talking about this with younger Christians. One, Black man, stated it best, "I had all that in the world, the clothes, the girls, the talk and I saw someone who had something I wanted, that was not of this world, that was different from what I had, he had Jesus, he had the Holy Spirit."

Anyway, I just showed it to my mother and she said "Not even in the natural does that make sense" :-)

And there you have it.

Efrayim said...

Thanks Jeremy,

I guess it wasn't too bad for a returning, Messianic, Two-House, Israelite.

And that's why I love you RBs. Though we may differ on any number of doctrinal and theological points, in the end, you guys go with what's written. Not only that, but as close to the original as you are able.

Which was Phil's point, that there are too many drifting far and wide from the root of faith, with the results being both sad and troubling.

Shalom my brother,


Russ said...

Huntington Library has an exhibit called "The Bible and the People," though the website describing it could be called The Rise and Decline of Bible publication:


Russ said...

Sorry, probably should have done the above as a link - here it is.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

"The results justify my methods. Show me the fruits of your ministry, and if they so far exceed mine as to give me evidence that you have found a more excellent way, I will adopt your view" (Charles Finney).

Jeremy Weaver said...

Wonder if Finney had ever met Asahael Nettleton?

Chuck E. said...

Interesting. As far as Christian rap is concerned, however, not every one is bad. I have a friend who is a Reformed Southern Baptist (Founders, Fo' Sho!) and black, and he is a rapper. Instead of all this kind of junk, he is focused on using his lyrics to reach the black community with true doctrine and help pull them out of bad theology- especially the Oneness movement.He hates these zines as much as I do.

Family Blogs said...

Hi Phil
I was rummaging through the roofspace yesterday when I found a copy of Tyndale's NT. These modern magazine editions give me nausea, not least when I think of the godly path blazed by men like Wycliffe and Tyndale - men who truly believed in the Bible for the people.

As I follow your comments on the state of the contemporary church, I just can't help wondering what heritage or history will be left behind for generations to come. Will the twentieth and twenty-first century be viewed in church history as the period when truth was traded for triviality, grandeur of true Christian thought for the gutter of contemporary consumerism. It gives me the chills. Then again, the truth is that history will probably be written in classic Orwellian doublethink, so that all of these things seem like positives rather than negatives.

I'm really enjoying your blog entries, and as we say in Northern Ireland - 'Keep her lit'!

Kim said...

Well, all I can say is "Ew."

I feel pretty much the same about this one (which I saw up close and personal at a book store last week) as I did about the one directed to girls.

I thought it was also pretty over priced considering it is indeed bound like a magazine.

Joe said...

Seems to me there should be a difference between "coming down to their level" and "digging a hole underneath them."

Cindy Swanson said...

And there you have it...an arsenal-full of ammo for the King James onlies.

Bill said...

When I was a teenager (I am 44), I has a paraphrase bible that tried to be culturally relevant. I found the attempt lame and eventually ditched the paraphrase for a real bible (a Thompson Chain Reference, which I thought was cool). Even if publishers are better at cultural relevance, it is not neccessary. The bible transcends culture, right? Of course, if one publishes a "culturally relevant" bible or NT, one must constantly update it to keep up with the times. I wonder if that translates into more sales? Hmmmm.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

More Finney: "The object of our measures is to gain attention and you must have something new

Renee said...

Thanks for the Finney quotes...

you are hitting the nail on the head.

Mike said...

Hey, Phil:

Don't forget about the sister Biblezine, Revolve:


Sadly enough, Wordlnetdaily advertised these for a long time.

Carla Rolfe said...

lol, Cindy's comment made me laugh (although I'm not so sure it was meant to be haha). I sort of thought the same, when I started reading the comments - people do have a tendency to go to the extreme in their reaction (case in point, the 'emerging church').

Re: these ludicrous "Bibles"... the one common theme they all seem to have (aside from being overpriced and terribly heretical) is the HUGE appeal to the flesh.

Rather than draw young people in with the truth of Scripture (how did kids in prior generations ever come to a saving knowledge of Christ without alternative worship bands and slick magazine covers?), kids are hooked in by this worldly appeal.

To me, it's a huge compromise - and people are falling for it, left, right and center.

How hard is it to just get your Bible (a real one), find a quiet place to read, and then pray? It all seems so simple, and yet so much of that simplicity is overlooked.

Just a few rambling thoughts from a KJV-preferedy (somehow that doesn't sound as scary as a kjv-only, eh?)

SDG - Carla

Steve Weaver said...

In answer to my brother Jeremy's question. Yes, Finney had met Nettleton. Iain Murray documents their relationship in Revival and Revivalism. A must read book if you want to understand the roots of modern day evangelical pragmatism.

BlackCalvinist aka G.R.A.C.E. Preecha said...

Hey Phil,

Just to echo something someone else already said: Not all 'Christian Rap' is bad. A great example is Shai Linne and Timothy Brindle from Lampmode records. Shai and Tim are both reformed - Shai's album title "The Solus Christus Project" and Tim's "The Great Awakening" were a clue :) That, and the fact that they're selling Soli Deo Gloria t-shirts :)

Here's an example for you (and everyone else) of good theology: Check out Shai's song Justified (which is a verse by verse exposition of Romans 3:12-24).

You can check out their work and pick up their albums at Lampmode.com.

Shai also works part-time for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention CHRISTcentric. All three members are reformed (one goes to my church). Their two projects - "The Mind of Christ" and "Reformation" are filled with tight beats (good music), tight lyrics (well-written lyrical content) and it's all theologically solid. You can listen to their stuff online here:

Be sure to check out their track "Sufficiency of Scripture".

There's also a Live365 station that plays all three groups in regular rotation - be edified and have your head bobbin' - http://live365.com/stations/charis316. The owner of the station (Pastor Lance Lewis) is a PCA Pastor in Philly.

Mrs. Darling said...

So so sad! And then we wonder why America's youth are without direction. How can they know when even the "Bible" says this stuff?

I think of the verse in Matthew."Whososever shall offend one of these little ones it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he was drowned in the depths of the sea."

That may have been slighly paraphrased by me since I quoted it off the top of my head. BTW, I too a KJV only, and proud of it!