Bible Revisionism, Again
People are always wanting to rewrite the Bible, or revise it to suit their own preferences. That has been going on for as long as Scripture has been available to us. It contains all sorts of politically incorrect truths and hard sayings which the unbeliever, the worldly, and the casual and compromised believer all find offensive and unpalatable.
Many of course will claim they are not rejecting the Bible altogether, just those bits which they find not to their liking. So revising the Bible to suit our own tastes and preferences is rather common. It is easy to simply cut entire slabs out of the Bible (think of Marcion here, or the infamous Jefferson Bible), or simply ignore those parts which you don’t want to have to deal with.
Even those who call themselves biblical Christians can play fast and loose with Scripture here. They can be all rather selective about what they read and what they believe. Instead of heeding the whole counsel of God, they choose those bits which fit their ideology or pet peeves.
As but one example of this, consider the so-called Red Letter Christians, who think we can somehow let the words of Jesus as found in the gospels trump everything else in Scripture. It is usually those of the religious left who are pushing this, and you have to remind them that all of Scripture is inspired, including the words of Jesus as found in the book of Revelation – words which often do not fit the agenda of the Red Letter brigade. I have spoken to this elsewhere: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/03/03/on-reading-jesus/
But here I wish to look at another clear-cut case of such biblical revisionism. It seems Hitler also felt the need to re-write the Bible to suit his own purposes. A recent news item speaks about the discovery of a Nazi Bible which was radically rewritten, especially to expunge all Jewish content and references.
Here in part is how the article unfolds: “An institute in Germany has unearthed a Nazi bible ordered by Adolf Hitler to replace the old and new testaments expunged of all references to Jews. Hitler’s race theorists even rewrote the 10 commandments and added two more for good measure in the book called ‘German with God’ which alongside Hitler’s autobiography was meant to be required reading in every home in his Third Reich….
“His plan was to gradually ‘Nazify’ the church beginning with a theological centre he set up in 1939 to rewrite the Holy Bible. He appointed lackey professors to work on a thoroughly Nazi version that would remove all references to Jews and all compassion. Their brief: ‘The cleanse church texts of all non-Ayran influences.’ The first to go were the 10 Commandments. The Nazi 12 run:
“Honour God and believe in him wholeheartedly.
Seek out the peace of God.
Avoid all hypocrisy.
Holy is your health and life!
Holy is your wellbeing and honour!
Holy is your truth and fidelity!
Honour your father and mother your children are your aid and your example.
Keep the blood pure and your honour holy!
Maintain and multiply the heritage of your forefathers.
Always be ready to help and to forgive.
Honour your Fuehrer and master!
Joyously serve the people with work and sacrifice.
That is what God wants from us!
“More important for Hitler, however, was the eradication of Jewish words, including Hallelujah, Jehova and even Jerusalem – it was instead termed the eternal city of God. ‘The book will have to serve the fight against the immortal Jewish enemy!’ said Hitler in a memorandum to the institute in Eisenach.
“Hansjoerg Buss of the Nordelbischen Church Office discovered the Bible in an archive search. It was printed in 1941 by a company in Weimar and was shipped out to thousands of churches across Nazi-occupied Europe. It is understood most have been destroyed. The name of the office Hitler created to shape the Bible in his image was the ‘Institute for the research and removal of the Jewish influence on German church life’.”
Bizarre, but not surprising. Of course, to eradicate any references to the Jews, Hitler would have had to eliminate just about the entire Old Testament, as well as the gospels and much of the New Testament. A hopeless task, in other words. Such are the radical steps required of those who wish to push their radical agendas.
But as I said, while some extreme cases like this are of course to be dismissed as lunacy, the question is, how many believers effectively act in a similar fashion, by the way they pick and choose what they want to believe in Scripture? And this also has to do with what we actually read.
How many believers today have read the entire Bible? And on a regular basis? Many Christians today do well if they get through a few Psalms and a bit of the New Testament – in a month! They seem to assiduously avoid any of the challenging bits of Scripture, and can easily gloss over those bits which they do in fact read.
So simply our selectivity in reading the Word is an indication of our own biblical revisionism at work. So before we condemn the Hitlers and the Jeffersons, maybe we need to look at ourselves. Maybe we are just as guilty of decimating Scripture to suit our own purposes.
And it is not just the believer in the pews and his reading of Scripture. What about the pastor and preacher who also selectively proclaim biblical truth. The great majority of these folks today are highly selective on what texts they use, and they use very little of it when they do.
Topical sermons are all the rage today, and the faithful, systematic exposition of entire books of the Bible is very rare indeed nowadays. I for one grow really weary of all this topical preaching which maybe allows one or two verses in a Sunday sermon.
That is not how we should be treating the Word of God. That is why I love reading people like Martyn Lloyd-Jones. They actually preached Scripture, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and book by book. Indeed just last night I was reading the Doctor and I came upon his views on this.
He was discussing the marvellous plan of God in our redemption, and the amazing biblical storyline, and he said this: “Do you know the message of this gospel? Do you know why Paul gloried in it? It is because he had come to see that God had got a plan for this miserable, wretched, failing sinful world.
“And it is a plan that he had planned before the very foundation of the world itself. I know of nothing so wonderful in the whole world today. That is why I do not preach topical sermons, I have something to tell you that is worth listening to!”
And what he said in thousands of sermons and millions of words most certainly was worth listening to. That is because he routinely and unflinchingly proclaimed biblical truth – the whole counsel of God. He preached the “nice” bits as well as the “unpleasant” bits.
So whether it is the Christian in the pews or the preacher in the pulpits, we all have an obligation to preach and read the whole Bible for the whole man. We have no right at all to simply revise and re-write the Bible to suit our own purposes. We expect enemies of Christianity to engage in such biblical revisionism, but no one naming the name of Christ dare be found guilty of such practices.
14 Replies to “Bible Revisionism, Again”
So, did Hitler admit defeat when he said the Jewish enemy was immortal?
The Romans had a god for everything and made a god in their own image to encompass everything. The hardest god to create must have been the one that explained why the man was later for dinner and appease the wife at the same time?
We have created our own god that explains all wrongs and takes the blame for all our wrong doings – we call it the devil.
One god that takes the blame for everything is better than a legion of gods. After all, how do you remember which one is to blame for coming home late for dinner?
By all means, let us read the Bible but do not let us misinterpret it by shifting the blame and responsibility for our actions.
So right Bill. We often hear the term “cafeteria Catholics” but it most likely sits nicely with so many Christians these days.
One wonders why Hitler was happy to honour God yet Jesus was born into a Jewish family and He is the 2nd person of the Blessed Trinity.
How sad that so any at that time took his word while rejecting Jesus. Nothing much has changed. Instead if gas chambers these days we have abortion clinics and euthanasia doctors.
I also do not like topical sermons ie Climate Change with one or two verses. However as all scripture is “profitable for doctrine” we should also be taught the Bible doctrines. To do this teachers have to look at sections of scripture for examples.
In 50 years I have never heard a series on the attributes of Father, Son or Holy Spirit. A W Pink lists 22 on the Holy Spirit in his book As God is only as good as his promises (hundreds of them) I have heard on them either. While everyone loves the good ones we need to be taught the judgement ones as well
Expository sermons are ideal if folk aware and taught via catechisms and doctrinal statements but this is lacking in churches as well
More evidence that there was nothing Christian about Hitler or the Nazis who want to remold Christianity into their image instead of applying it. E.g. replaced the Biblical “Jesus is Lord” with “Fuehrer is Lord” as seen in one of those 12 commandments and replace the Christian ethic and sanctity of life principles with their own Neitzschean morality.
Topical subjects like the hellish origin of Islam, the demonic abortion industry, the satanic lie of evolution, the perverse promulgation of homosexual [marriage?], the deceitful, biased, media in the west. Ditto freemasonry and many others. Unfortunately not too many sermons about these topics.
I wonder if Hitler also took out the portions of scripture where it warns that if we add anything to it, we would also have the plagues added to us and if we take anything away, we would take away our eternal blessings.
A commenter on one of your other posts said that the Lord’s prayer reminds us that we are not in charge. So does the faithful and humble exposition of the scriptures, the passages we understand and the ones we don’t, the passages we like and the ones we don’t. It is dangerous to our soul and that of others if we don’t do that. 1 Tim 4:16
But yes, i have heard people in my own bible study call the latter part of Ps 139 “that terrible passage”. I cringe when I hear that and wonder what it might take for God to persuade them otherwise.
But I think, Bill, our comparison does go a little too far. There is a difference between deliberate evil and the fear of submitting to God in ways where it might be painful or uncomfortable. I think, or at least I pray God would have more mercy on the latter than on the former and trust in His promises and if you do not yet agree, God will reveal it unto you, very much paraphrased and from phil 3, if I remember correctly.
More details about Nazi attempts to “Aryanise” Christianity may be found in Russell Grigg’s article: [URL: http://creation.com/hitler-bible ] “Did Hitler Rewrite the Bible?” which is built around data contained in historian, Susannah Heschel’s work, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany , Princeton University Press, USA, 2008.
For Herr Hitler, the Bible had been superseded by the works of Friedrich Nietzsche who declared the will to power was the only real virtue in a world where God had been done to death at the hands of infidel philosophers and Darwin had supposedly told us the real, depressing truth about human origins as a “favoured” race of the primate genera of mammals.
Well I’m very happy to say that my wife children and me are doing the Professor Horner Bible-reading system.
Not to say satan didn’t do his best to stop us from doing this.
Off-topic; try and help out European friends: http://www.citizengo.org/en/2882-european-parliament-will-vote-roadmap-special-lgbt-rights-lunacekno?sid=MzQwMTM3ODk4MTM5MzEz
The main value of peaching through a variety of books, and not trying to cover too much ground in each sermon, is that doctrines and issues have to be dealt with as they arise rather than as a preacher picks and chooses. There are other types of good sermons but perhaps at least 80% should be expositional journeys through books of the Bible, and not just the shorter or “easier” books.
None of that of course excuses Christians from reading through the whole Bible and reading good books on the Bible and its teaching. Bible study groups are also very important.
I’ve looked everywhere, no trace of that book anywhere, if any of you ever find it please let me know.
But I found something else:
Why Thomas Jefferson Rewrote the Bible Without Jesus’ Miracles and Resurrection?
Thanks Rosemary. Yes I have discussed the ‘Jefferson Bible’ before, eg.: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/03/03/on-reading-jesus/