I mentioned recently to someone that I am thinking of getting the Green Letter Bible. The person I was talking to responded, "I like the Bible I have." I respected his answer to me. I detected in his tone a disinterested dismissal, as if her were saying, "I am not into all these fad Bibles, the Green-letter Bible, the Poverty and Justice Bible. I don't need them." He did not say those things but I think that's where his thoughts were. And if I am right, I absolutely respect him. There are a lot of groups out there that want to make the Bible their agendas.
Christians are not to do that! We are to conform our lives to God's agenda and the leadership of God's Spirit. This means studying the Bible with an inquisitive mind, critical thinking, and a malleable heart. We conform to the word; we don't conform the word to our ways of thinking.
I was talking to another person, a pastor about the Green Letter Bible. It's supposed to be a Bible that highlights (in green) what God's word has to say about care of the Earth. Her response was "Isn't the entire Bible supposed to be green." She wasn't dismissing the Green Letter Bible for the same reasons as the other guy I talked to but she seemed just as disinterested.
OK! That's two Christians I respect, and neither had any excitement over the Green Bible. On the other hand, another Christian I respect greatly, a pastor, has a copy of the Green Letter Bible and he loves it.
I am in a fortunate position in that my church gives me a budget for resources. I feel like as a pastor I should be informed about the resources that are out there for evangelicals. Right now, Green is in; even conservative politicians are trying to be seen as eco-friendly. So, I think it is wise for me to see what I can learn from the Green Letter Bible.
However, I can't buy everything that comes along! If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know my most recent post is about the Poverty and Justice Bible. I still have the Oxford Annotated Bible I got in seminary 15 years ago. And my Grandmother-in-Law, a devoted Christian and true Pentecostal gave me a Full Life Charismatic King James Study Bible one year. My book shelf has a row of Bibles and concordances.
Is this excessive?
I don't think so. And I don't think it would be excessive even if I was not a pastor. It would only be too much if I never read the materials. It would be flat out sin if I just stacked the books there so people would be impressed by my diligent scholarship. (Actually that would just show me to be completely out of touch. No one outside of academic or clergy circles cares at all how much a pastor reads).
No, I think the accumulation of these study Bibles is a good thing because they inform me in my study of scripture as a preacher and as a believer. I love read the Good News Bible in Today's English Version that I was given when I baptized in 1981. My wife and I read from it every night. And sometimes, I'll borrow her study Bible when I am working on something. I encourage Christians who can afford to do so to buy the different study Bibles if they will be committed to reading the articles and commentary provided.
I know not everyone can afford 6 study Bibles. If you have one Bible and you read it faithfully and you connect with other Christians and discuss God's word on a regular basis and do it in prayer, you're going to grow in faith. But, many of the readers of this blog do have means. Their TV's, boats, cars, and 4-bedroom houses attest to the fact that they can easily afford a couple of study Bibles.
If the study Bibles will help someone awaken to issues that are of particular importance to God, then that person would be wise to make the reading of that study Bible (scripture passage, notes, commentary, and articles) a regular part of his or her faith life. A disciple of Jesus Christ is wise to let the study Bible be a part of his or her Spiritual growth. There's no need to chafe against the study Bible or dismiss it as trendy.
We are to conform to the scripture itself. But the accompanying notes, articles, and commentary are tools to be used to build discipleship.