Today I went ballistic. Trouble is I have a blog and when you have a blog your meltdown moments aren’t only witnessed by the doorknob. In this case I went a little bit postal when I heard that logos.com was giving away 72 “ultra-premium” Bibles over the next six months. Since when is there such a thing as “ultra-premium” Bibles?!?
Normally I’d shrug off such a goofy example of American consumerism in the name of the Lord or just make fun of it and move on, but for the last several days I’ve been stuck in a veritable Biblical desert. All I wanted was to be able to share some electronic Portuguese Bibles with my students here in Mozambique and what I discovered is that there's nothing out there. Unless you want an eye patch and a wooden leg. So I’ve been working on cobbling together electronic Bible tools for my students and then this thing about “real Morocco goatskin leather cover and full leather lining for unsurpassed beauty and durability” comes along and I do the little steam-coming-out-of-my-ears routine.
Even now that my anger has calmed I still believe that logos.com’s campaign is wrong. But what would be the right thing to do in this case? Here we are rich Americans with enough Bibles on our bookshelf to sink a dingy. Buying another Bible is probably not going to gain me any big insights into God’s word that I’m not already getting with the cheap NIV Study Bible that I bought eight years ago at Walmart for $14.99. My problem is I don’t spend enough time reading the Bible I already own.
But I don’t want to suggest that we should take all the money we saved by not purchasing the $229.99 "NKJV Wide-Margin Reference Bible, based upon Cambridge's NKJV Pitt Minion Reference Edition" and buy Bibles for the underprivileged Bible readers in Africa. Charity isn’t the answer. Perhaps what we need to do is examine that impulse that makes us desire a fancy Bible. Is it just plain lust? I have to admit I love beautiful books. Heck, I love ugly books. I just plain love books. But how many books do I need? I’m just glad I live in a village in Africa where I’m not tempted by all those bookstores. But if it’s not lust maybe it’s a spiritual yearning that we hope we can fulfill by another type of study Bible or devotional Bible. I’ve been there and done that, too.
Several commenters on my blog have mentioned that proceeds from Bibles sold in America benefit Bible translation overseas. I find that justification hard to swallow. The image that comes to mind is the rich man throwing scraps to Lazarus. The only way for the rich man to be saved is either for him to leave the party and go feast on garbage with Lazarus or throw open the doors of the banquet hall and let in all the riffraff. And I have to say that, painful as it is, the first of those options is probably the only salvation for American believers. The believers in the developing world don’t want your scraps. And I tend to think that deep down they probably don’t want to feast at your table. Instead, there’s a common ground when we live as if there is no “third world.”
This is easy for me to say because I live in Africa. I hang out with Africans. In an hour I’ll be sitting in a classroom with Mozambicans talking about 1 John 5. But I wonder what you folks in the developed world can do to bridge the gap between yourselves and the believers overseas? You’ve got all the Bibles. But in most cases, they have all the faith. Their material poverty is overshadowed by spiritual riches that in essence puts them in the feasting hall while you’re the one outside the gate.
You can check out Logos’ give-away here: Greatest Bible Giveaway Ever!
My rant is here: Logos.com hawks luxury Bibles while the world starves for God’s Word