A John Wycliffe Bible in the Green collection.
Wikimedia commons/Denysmonroe81
A John Wycliffe Bible in the Green collection.

Fear of the Bible is completely justified


The Green family of Oklahoma City has attracted a lot of attention lately and may be in for more, due to their most cherished project. Reports The New York Times: “[T]the family is looking to build a permanent presence on the Washington [D.C.] landscape by establishing a sprawling museum dedicated to the Bible—just two blocks south of the National Mall.” Several years ago Steve Green, son of Hobby Lobby’s founder and now president of the family-owned company, employed experts to seek out and purchase ancient manuscripts and other Bible-related materials, an enterprise that grew into a multi-million dollar collection. Much of the Green collection is now touring the country in an exhibit called “Passages” but is eventually headed for a permanent home in our nation’s capital, on property the Greens purchased for $50 million.

In a speech delivered last year, Green shared the reason why he’s devoted so much time and money to the project: “This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. … If we don’t know [the Bible], our future is going to be very scary.”

A future that includes a state-of-the-art Bible museum in the very shadow of the Washington Monument looks very scary to Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. To her, the Greens “are a great threat. My instincts would tell me that they are choosing Washington, D. C., because they intend to influence Congress.” The LGBT-advocacy group Truth Wins Out has urged city officials to refuse a building permit for this “theme park for extremism disguised as a legitimate museum.” Scott Carroll, former professor of ancient history at Baylor University, who advised Green on his purchases, can vouch for the quality of the collection but has disassociated himself from the project. “[Washington] is a pulpit of sorts,” Carroll told The Times. He fears the Green family will be unable to disconnect their desire to educate from their evangelical fervor.

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For the most part, the peanut galleries at Politico and the Huffington Post heap scorn and venom on the proposed museum, emotions that are actually directed at the Bible itself and those who believe it. The emotions are so intense one suspects a deep-seated fear. Of a book? Well, yes. And in a way, the fear is completely justified.

There’s no other book like it: the bedrock of Western law and literature, the flint of revival (when sparked by the Spirit), the spur of literacy. It has been misquoted, misapplied, and misused, but more often it reforms and restores. It’s the cutting edge of revelation, living and active and sharper than any sword. Without it we could believe anything we wanted about Jesus or make up any God we chose. But as long as the Bible stands as witness, we won’t get away with deceptions. Those who don’t accept it are right to be afraid: It’s not a tame book.

Janie B. Cheaney
Janie B. Cheaney

Janie lives in Missouri, is a columnist for WORLD, writes novels for young adults, and is the author of the Wordsmith creative writing series. She also reviews books at RedeemedReader.com. Follow Janie on Twitter @jbcheaney.


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