Coyle's Reviews > NKJV, American Patriot's Bible, Hardcover: The Word of God and the Shaping of America

NKJV, American Patriot's Bible, Hardcover by Richard G. Lee
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's review
Mar 27, 2012

did not like it

Dear Thomas Nelson Publishers:

I regret to inform you that a printing disaster appears to have occurred. Some prankster on your factory floor has shuffled together two books: the Bible and someone’s reflection on how America is (or at least was once) a Christian nation. Somehow, the pages from these two books have been intertwined and bound together in one volume bearing the amalgam label The American Patriot’s Bible. I strongly encourage you to correct this problem immediately, as not doing so could lead to a great deal of confusion about the proper separation between the City of God and the city of man.

Thank you for your time,

Coyle Neal

The temptation to actually send that letter is quite overwhelming…

Okay, so, The American Patriot’s Bible. (Which I assume is some sort of companion piece to the forthcoming Canadian Patriot’s Bible, Chinese Patriot’s Bible, etc.) This book is, well, a King James Version of the Bible with notes and asides dedicated to showing the importance of the Bible and Christianity in American history. In fact, the editor’s introduction states that the Bible was the source of the answers to the political problems engaged by the Founding Fathers, and that “It has proven itself over and over again in the formation and continuance of the greatest nation in history, the United States of America.”

I will not be reviewing the Bible. Instead, I’ll restrict my comments to the “American Patriot” part of the book.

Structurally, this is not so much a “study Bible” as it is a “Bible with notes and asides inserted throughout.” That is, there are few commentaries made on individual texts. Instead, sprinkled through the book are short essays and quotes loosely related to occasionally Biblical topics. For example, “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms” (pg 17) discusses the importance of owning firearms as a means of the preservation of liberty, and suggests that the colonial rebellion against King George “may have had its roots in the Old Testament accounts of Israel’s wars for freedom.” This essay includes a citation on the side—Genesis 14:14 “And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.” Which, to be fair, does involve weapons, so I guess there’s a link there…

Anyway, the point is, this is really not a study Bible, it’s more of a mash-up of Scripture and devotional reflections on some of the events of and ideas about American history.

(Reminder: I am not writing a review of the Bible. My comments here are directed at the commentary only.)

This book is troublesome and ultimately unhelpful on both a personal (as a Christian) and professional (as a political scientist and historian) level.

Not to bog this down with academic jargon, I’ll just briefly point out the historical fallacy that lies at the heart of the book. It is true that Christianity (specifically Protestant Christianity) was the most important philosophy/idea/theology/whatever on the Founding generation of Americans. It is not true that it was the only philosophy that affected and united them. English liberalism, Whig constitutionalism, Scots Enlightenment, and numerous others all impacted the founders and affected the ideas that worked their way into American government. For example, the rights of life and liberty are first articulated in the writings of the English liberal John Locke. It was through him that they worked their way into the Declaration of Independence, not through theological reflection on the Bible.

And, well, that’s enough on the academic side of things. I’ll save that for the classroom.

Much more important is that as a Christian, I believe this book is virtually without redeeming value. There are two reasons for this:

-First, the book assumes that America is a Christian nation. I think we can even go a bit farther and say that tenor of the book is that the editors believe that America is God’s nation. It almost as if the editors had not read Hebrews 11, where we are reminded that God’s people are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” who “seek a country… a better country, that is, an heavenly city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16) As Christians, our home is not in this world. We are rather pilgrims on our way to our true home, God’s true country where he has prepared a city in which we can live for all eternity.

Of course it’s true that as Christians we hold a dual citizenship. We are citizens of two kingdoms until we arrive at that heavenly city. While I wait for heaven, I am commanded to be a good citizen in whatever nation I dwell here on earth, even as I remember that that nation is a temporary and passing affair, with only a limited role to play in my life and in the history of the world. What I am strictly not to do is to confuse my current, temporary nation with my eternal home. Jesus makes this clear when he commands us to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17) Which, ironically, this book turns on its head with a side-note suggesting that “The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos… America’s future depends upon her accepting and demonstrating God’s government.” (pg 1142) Where Jesus drew a distinction between God and Caesar, the editors would blend the two back together.

-Second, and much more importantly, there is no Gospel present in this book. It’s almost as if, in their rush to demonstrate how Biblical America is, the editors forgot the point of the Bible itself. The essays, notes, and asides are all somewhere on the spectrum between sappy moralizing and rigid legalism, mostly falling on the latter end of that spectrum. Numerous examples of this could be cited, but perhaps the best example is the first one. In the introductory “Seven Principles of the Judeo-Christian Ethic” (which comes in the first couple of pages, before even the title page), the author writes:

“This principle of the Abrahamic covenant states that if a person or a nation obeys God, observing the moral truths found in the Bible, that person or nation will be blessed. If they disobey, they will bring punishment upon themselves. For most of our nation’s history, Americans have accepted the belief that good deeds produce good results and that people who were “God-fearing” in language and lifestyle would be blessed by Him.”

This is really the point of the American Patriot’s Bible­- to demonstrate that once upon a time Americans were blessed because they were good people (which we know they were because they believed and obeyed the Bible), and that we should be so again. To which I can only ask two questions: what about sin? And what about Jesus? In a book presuming to talk about Christianity and America, you’d think there would be ample opportunity to discuss the nature and effects of sin. For all our virtues (and there are many), Americans at times have been greedy, arrogant, lazy, lustful, murderous, vengeful, and, well, the list could go on. We’ve enslaved or butchered other peoples, we’ve pursued our own ends even at the expense of others (look up how America got control of Hawaii sometime), and we’ve, well, we’ve done what every nation does. We have been wicked. We are no exception to the deeply real presence of sin in the world.

And, having talked about sin, what a further wonderful opportunity (which the editors do not take) to talk about the forgiveness that comes from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ: where all of that sin and guilt is taken off of us and put on the cross and finished, and in its place we are given new life. This, at least according to the Apostle Paul, is the true meaning of the covenant promise to Abraham in Genesis 15 (see Galatians 3:14 for that). The meaning of the Abrahamic covenant is not that nations will be blessed if they obey God, but that in Christ we will be blessed despite our sin having earned us punishment.

And, hopefully that’s enough. I could continue to rant, but I’m not sure that would be constructive. I cannot in good conscience recommend this book.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. Clearly, they did not pay me to write a good review of it.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Hawk Any time you read the words "political science" beware, as you are reading the words of a person who has been educated in Athenian philosophia based Marxism-Leninism. The Apostle Paul warns of this very doctrine and how it deceives Christians in Colossians chapter 2. Paul's comments in Colossians are in response to his engagement with the Athenian philosopha based Epicureans and Stoics during his visit to Athens, which is documented in Acts 17. The only two places in our fathers word where the word philosopha is used is in those two specific verses.

Second there is a warning from Christ in the last chapter of the book of Revelation concerning changing the biblical texts. As long as the original text is not altered, men can place references to historical events related to the text, as long as the references are accurate and clearly noted as not being our Fathers word. Many people write in there Bibles and make references while studying. As long as the work does not drive people or change the meaning of biblical text,then it simply becomes notations as to the textual references concerning America.
People need to understand that there is ample biblical evidence that America was established by the house of Joseph and is represents Manasseh, the older brother to Ephraim (Gen 41:52). Read of the blessing in Genesis 48,where the covenant was passed to Ephraim, the younger brother. The two Hebrew words bariyth and iysh (covenant and man), make up the word British (bariyth-iysh). The covenant was passed to the house of Joseph from Jacob himself Genesis 48. That covenant nation stands even today. There is nothing wrong with knowing the biblical historical references to the house of Israel, as long as our Fathers word is not altered.

Coyle I... uh... wait, what?

message 3: by Thom (new)

Thom I do believe he is saying that Marx and Lenin founded Athenian philosophy ;)
all kidding aside I think you make a excellent point about that a study Bible without a salvation message is kind a pointless.

message 4: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Bobby wrote: "Any time you read the words "political science" beware, as you are reading the words of a person who has been educated in Athenian philosophia based Marxism-Leninism. The Apostle Paul warns of this..."

Bobby, your reply belongs in the comments section of a YouTube video about some END TIMES PROPHECY. America is not in the bible. It is not the greatest country on the planet or in history. Yes we have a rich history, with many a professing American believer diligently seeking after Jesus. It's true that cultural Marxists tend to criticize and rewrite American history to make Christians seem like a bunch of "intolerant bigots," but any real Christian can't help but notice the fact that American Christianity and American churches are going the way of apostate Israel. The Bible promises, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." All the nations, no special nation in particular. Any nation that forgets God shall be turned into hell, as the Psalm says, and America will be no exception if it apostatizes. I love America and I love American history, I really do. I have ordered the American Patriots Bible because it was only $10 and I just wanted to see it for myself. I hope that it isn't a sin to read it, as I may still find some of the articles interesting. But Coyle has correctly pointed out the fact that this bible doesn't take the notes as an opportunity to really bring home the gospel message, which is an accurate reflection of the America we are living in today: "Judeo-Christian" values, no gospel.

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