Ladies and blokes, I give you… *drumroll please*… the Compass Study Bible. The latest in über-relavent and totally hip Bible translationry stuff. I know your hands are already reaching for your wallets, but wait! Before you start throwing cash around, allow me to wax the floor of your collective mind with a sales pitch.
*awkward silence, cringing, followed by a shuffling of feet*
Okay. I give. It’s not a sales pitch. More like a no-sale pitch.
Day before last, my Mom received an email from one of the publicists for this thing. The description (as given in the email) went on about how the concept for Compass originated with readers: “Through a series of focus groups and research, a need was discovered and reiterated by consumers for a new type of Bible that helped them find answers but didn’t tell them what to do or how to live their lives.”
*hand strokes chin* You don’t say? A Bible that helps me find answers, but does not tell me what to do or how to live my life? Sounds nice. Like no Bible I’ve heard of. Ever. This calls for more chin-stroking.
But wait, there’s more. Compass Study Bible “aims to provide a non-threatening package of God’s Word that becomes a companion to the work-a-day person.” Hallelujah. This is such a relief to hear. I am so fed up with threatening Bibles. (Looking at you, King friggin’ James.)
*prolonged throat-clearing* Alright then. Note to self: breathe deeply, chill out, and drink a tall glass of chocolate milk. Relax. Even your hair is clinched.
I have no desire to sound like the Internet Theology Police. I have no desire to be a prig. But for God’s sake, is this really a thing? (Yes.) Am I losing my mind? (Probably.) Is it possible that we are actually giving these shenanigans a first glance, let alone a second? (Yes.)
Three observations before I head off to get that chocolate milk:
First, the opening spiel about “a need” being “discovered and reiterated by consumers” should set off smoke alarms faster than my brother’s cooking (sorry, dude). Since when were the whims and wishes of “consumers” a determining factor in our handling of Holy Writ? Should we expect to see an Adulterer’s Study Bible in future, or perhaps one for those who don’t particularly care to read about fiery lakes and damnation?
Second, I keep returning to the part about “a new type of Bible” that helps people “find answers” but doesn’t “tell them what to do or how to live their lives.” I am almost at a loss for words. To steal a phrase from Chesterton: if mortal muddle-headedness can go deeper than that, in this vale of tears, I should like to see it. It reads like a parody; the fact that it isn’t chills my spine.
Third, the minute someone starts talking about “a non-threatening package of God’s Word,” we ought to be awfully suspicious, if not actually hostile. Non-threatening? By this, I can only conclude that what is being offered is not really a Bible at all. It can’t be. Turn around and take a good long stare down the corridor of history, bub. You don’t get thrown to the lions or chopped into bits for holding to a faith that is non-threatening.