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.

21 comments
      1. @Shane Vander Hart, actually, the Wikipedia article on Conservapedia (not sure how self-referential that is…) mentions commentary from 2007 noting “a growing number of phony articles written by mischief makers,” but I don’t think that’s the source in this case. They’re as serious as Swine Flu.

        I think the whole culture war project is in fact a parody of itself, and an obstacle the Gospel. It’s hard for me to believe that we spend so much time on insane things, whether emerging from “our side” or “their side.”
        .-= CircleReader´s last blog ..Remebering Labor, Entering Rest =-.

  1. I do agree with Dana … actually, at first I did think it was a joke. Then I read more and wanted to cry. (The name “Conservapedia,” also, I thought was a joke … Andrew Schlafly has probably done more harm to the conservative movement than anyone else in the past year.)

    As for the hits the project is taking from atheists like Alan Colmes … it makes sense. You and I will claim from now til doomsday that the Bible in the inerrant Word of God. This project puts forward the notion that it’s a lot more fallible, and that some parts don’t even belong there. If it’s the story of the adulterous woman to Schlafly, why not Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality?

    I actually find this more disturbing than liberal interpretations of the Bible. While some of those involve a lot of mental gymnastics to try to fit the text to ideology, they rarely ACTUALLY change the text. (Not never, but rarely.) Generally, even the most liberal interpretation involves choosing one legitimate Biblical principle over another, rather than working to reconcile them. This project presumes to treat the whole Bible as a rough draft and remove what’s difficult so that we never have to think about it again.
    .-= Wickle´s last blog ..“Sacred Waiting” by David Timms =-.

    1. @Wickle, I agree, even the NRSV is a translation in the vein of the NIV not a paraphrase and it doesn’t remove verses it doesn’t like.

      This seems a lot like the Jesus Seminar except run by conservatives who know nothing about Biblical translation & interpretation.

  2. Yeah, Conservapedia bothered me, too. I found it sort of amusing after it went live, though. Not a single conservative I follow had any recommendations to use the site or had any good things to say about it. It seemed as if all the traffic and links were coming from liberals making fun of it.
    .-= Dana´s last blog ..The Conservative Bible Project =-.

  3. I also liked their interpretation of “liberal” verses and vocabulary. Their concerns over “government” and the “shrewd” servant left me wondering if they even understood the text, let alone translation.
    .-= Dana´s last blog ..The Conservative Bible Project =-.

    1. @Kansas Bob, Why do you say that? It’s an example of changing the Bible to what you want it to say. This wouldn’t be something a literalist would do.

      What’s ironic what Conservapedia is doing is typically a liberal (theological, not political) approach to Scripture.

      I think both conservatives & liberals can be guilty of ultra-literalism (whatever that means). For instance with liberals, taking the Sermon on the Mount & Matthew 25 being applicable to Government – completely disregarding the context of the passages.

  4. I think that ultra-literalists see God in the minutiae and have a difficult time seeing Him in the big story. The fighting over the jots and the tittles often causes folks to want to redefine the jots and the tittles.
    .-= Kansas Bob´s last blog ..The Plans of Our Heart =-.

    1. @Kansas Bob, I agree with you in principle, but I know you and I have had disagreements over what is “jots and tittles.” Some “jots and tittles” are important to understanding the big story.

      Really though I haven’t seen many projects where people actually want to change Scripture. This is one, and the only other time I’ve seen it is with the Jesus Seminar.

  5. As noted, Andrew Schlafly is a son of Phyllis Schafly. His sideline educational program has some ‘coat-tail support’ from Phyllis’s Eagle Forum (Not that he likes to acknowledge it). Along with liberal ‘bias’ in the Bible, Andrew also takes issue with things like General Relativity and others which are pretty reliable indicators of being a ‘quack’. Like most quacks, he seems to enjoy the negative recognition (any recognition will do).

    RationalWiki has great fun mocking Conservapedia.

    1. @Argon, I am, by and large, not a fan of wikis. I find it hilarious when people cite them as source material since anybody can contribute to them.

      I honestly don’t know much about this guy. I’ve never even been to the site until I heard about this Bible “project.”

  6. Maybe I’m missing something. But isn’t the point of the Bible that, if you disagree with the word of God, it’s an opportunity for you to learn from your error — not to correct the word of God?

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