I got a kick out of this when I saw it in a catalog yesterday. Apparently the publisher printed every Bible verse that speaks to creation-care or eco-stewardship in green. Imagine this: You’re sitting down to read Revelation 11:18 and this is what you see:
“The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants the prophets and saints and all who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
I read about it to Eileen and she immediately asked, “Is it printed on recycled paper?” Great question. Thankfully it is sustainably printed: soy-ink, a mixture of recylced and responsibly harvested paper, and a linen cover produced in a “green friendly environment”. But Eileen’s question does point to something deeper: How often, in the rush to meet a need or fill a new niche, does the Christian publishing industry betray the principles its books promote? The Green Bible is not the first move in the Christian publishing market to provide matching products for the trend. What’s next? Green Bible carrying cases, Green Bible bookmarks, or perhaps trademarked Green Bible brand soy ink pens for underlining in your Green Bible. Thus we prove our depravity.
For a much more drastic example, what message does it send when someone is given the Peacemaker’s Bible (pictured here)? Is the man with a gas mask and an assault rifle in the lower right-hand corner what Jesus had in mind when he said “Blessed are the peacemakers”? Why not have a picture of a peacemaker like Martin Luther King, Jr., or even Ghandi instead? (I know, Ghandi wasn’t Christian. But consider the fact that he had the entire Sermon on the Mount memorized and that it was the basis for much of his teaching and action. He didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God, but he applied Jesus’ words to his own life more than most of us are willing to do.) The reason why there’s a gun on this cover rather than a Nobel Peace Prize is that this is a “target” or “evangelism” Bible, designed to catch the eye of police officers and thus draw them into scripture. But is this really genuine evagelism or just a marketing trick?
I absolutely believe the Bible calls us to be good stewards of creation, so I don’t mean to take issue with the idea behind The Green Bible, or the content of its special features. I think it could serve a good purpose. I just hope a bunch of people don’t throw away their old conventional Bibles and waste packaging, gas, paper, and money rushing to buy a new one they don’t need. Doing so would bear witness to our consumerism more than our call to care for creation. The gospel must be proclaimed through a variety of media, but let us be careful that a chosen medium (or method of marketing that medium) doesn’t contradict the gospel. May the principles of stewardship which the Green Bible highlights be embraced by the consumers who would by it, and the industry which produced it.