Conservapedia started the Conservative Bible Project, among its goals are the following:

  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level.
  4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop; defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots"; using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
  6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
  9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

Wow.  As a follower of Christ who is conservative I have to say how incredibly misguided this is.  First off it isn’t even necessary.  There are excellent translations out there – the English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, and the New King James Version for starters.  I don’t think there is anything nefarious about the New International Version (the original) and I certainly don’t consider it “dumbed down”.

Secondly to exclude later-inserted “liberal” passages is troubling.  What exactly makes John 7:53-8:11 “liberal”?  Nothing.

Thirdly, using “powerful conservative terms,” “combating addiction by using modern terms for it,” “explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning” and preferring “conciseness over liberal wordiness” makes me wonder how faithful to the original language they are being.  Also are they adopting proper hermeneutical practices taking original context into consideration?  Somehow I doubt it.

Of course I find it hilarious that liberals like Alan Colmes are weighing in.  Would they give the Bible the time of day otherwise?  I doubt it.  I do agree with Rod Dreher that is is insane hubris.  Ed Morrissey points out the primary issue with this project.

However, if one believes the Bible to be the Word of God written for His purposes, which I do, then the idea of recalibrating the language to suit partisan political purposes in this age is pretty offensive — just as offensive as they see the “liberal bias” in existing translations.  If they question the authenticity of the current translations, then the only legitimate process would be to work from the original sources and retranslate.  And not just retranslate with political biases in mind, but to retranslate using proper linguistic processes and correct terminology.

What they are doing, in essence, is creating a conservative paraphrase of the Bible, a “thought for thought translation.”  Here they bash the NIV, but even the NIV isn’t “thought for thought” it’s dynamic so it takes in consideration faithfulness to the original language, as well as, the context and thought the verse is trying to convey (based on the context of the passage).  The most reliable translations are word for word which if they are truly concerned about the integrity of a translation; should be the thrust of their project.

This is an example of making your ideology an idol.  Conservatives shouldn’t do it, and neither should liberals.  Liberals are not exempt from doing this (can we say Jim Wallis, and this post at Crooks and Liars).  By the way, “loving your neighbor” isn’t liberal or a conservative value.  It is a Biblical value, period.

As Tony Evans points out that when Jesus returns he isn’t coming to take sides, but to take over.  This project isn’t needed.  It is ill conceived and I’ll even go as far to say it is borders on heretical.  It should be deep-sixed.

HT to Lisa Graas for pointing this out to me.

Update: Linked by Dana who said this is one way to alienate Christians and make a mockery of conservatives.  Very true Dana, another reason why this “translation” (and I’m using that word very loosely) is ill-conceived.

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