ere are a couple of items that have been in my "maybe you want to comment on this" file since last December.
One is an article about Zondervan's "Bible Bunker," where publishing executives find ways to trick out the Bible and boost its market appeal. From the article: "Zondervan plans to keep stoking demand by making sure God’s word looks hip, sounds relevant and is advertised all over, including in Rolling Stone magazine and Modern Bride, on MySpaceeven on a jumbotron in New York City’s Times Square."
To be clear, I have no problem with advertizing the Bible "all over"including jumbotrons and magazines aimed at popular secular markets. I don't seriously object to patent-leather or neon Naugahyde® on Bibles. The cover on Crossway's calfskin leather Journaling Bible is what motivated me to buy one, and I love it. If some teenage girl wants a Sanrio-inspired Bible cover, good for Zondervan.
What disturbs me is the way "making sure God’s word . . . sounds relevant" is casually thrown into the marketing strategy. (I was also annoyed by Zondervan's executive veep's offhand description of the Bible as "one darn book," but that's a slightly different topic. Only slightly, though.)
I've complained many times before that "marketing" in this era is never merely about "advertis[ing] all over," but it actually starts with fashioning the product to appeal to market demand. That's why marketing the church, marketing the Bible, or marketing a sermon series is a dangerous strategy. Church marketing experts never seem to own up to the reality that the medium and the message necessarily impact one another, and the more stress the marketer puts on the medium, the more the message is relegated to second-place status. Soon they're not just "marketing" the church, they're pimping it.
Thus we have Biblezines, which overlay the Bible with silly and superficial self-centeredness in order to make it seem "relevant" to people who have no clue what relevance is truly about.
Which brings me to that other item from my December file. It's the next step in pimping the Bible: "The Green Bible"a Bible promoting the eschatology of Greenpeace, the morality of treehugging, and the Five Points of "Global Warming." Radical environmentalism is one of secular culture's favorite substitutes for belief in God. It's not easy to make the Bible ride that bandwagon. But Zondervan's parent company, HarperCollins, is trying hard.
I'm going to borrow a copy of the Green Bible, just to see what it does with the Noahic Covenant: "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease" (Genesis 8:22).
But . . . wow. Is there no end to this kind of foolishness?
Once more: Brethren, we need to get back to the gospel. And I'm talking about proclaiming the gospel we find in the Bible, not remodeling it to make it blend with all the latest fads.