Lighthouse Trails learned that Holman Bible Publishers (the oldest Bible publisher in America) has inserted an article by a strong contemplative proponent into several of their King James Version Bibles (some of which Lighthouse Trails WAS carrying) including: the Ultra Thin Reference Bible, the Pocket-Sized Bible Classic, the Large Print Ultra Thin Bible, and the Personal Reference Bible. The article in the Bibles is titled, “Why You Should Read the King James Bible,” written by the late Calvin Miller (died 2012). Calvin Miller is an advocate for contemplative/centering prayer.
The two warnings are as follows, in their entirety:
This is a major issue, and let us tell you 4 reasons why we believe Holman should not have done this:
In Into the Depths of God, [Calvin] Miller encourages readers to engage in centering prayer and explains it as a union between man and God:Into the Depths of God is riddled with favorable quotes by and references to a number of contemplative mystics. In addition to Thomas Merton, there is Evelyn Underhill, St. John of the Cross, Esther de Waal, Kathleen Norris, Hildegard of Bingen, Annie Dillard, Bernard of Clairvaux, and St. Anthony (a Desert Father). In Miller’s newer book, The Disciplined Life, Miller again turns to the mystics. Miller also wrote The Path to Celtic Prayer (Celtic spirituality is another avenue through which contemplative is entering the evangelical church).
“Centering is the merger of two ‘selves’—ours and his [God’s]. Centering is union with Christ. It is not a union that eradicates either self but one that heightens both” (p. 107).
Into the Depths of God is an exhortation in contemplative spirituality and is brimming with quotes by Thomas Merton and other contemplatives. Miller speaks of the “wonderful relationship between ecstasy [mystical state] and transcendence [God],” and says that “Ecstasy is meant to increase our desire for heaven” (p. 96) (A Time of Departing, p. 186).
2. Secondly, Calvin Miller resonates with emergent teacher Marcus Borg. In Miller’s book, The Book of Jesus (2005), Marcus Borg writes an entire chapter for the book. Miller would never include an entire chapter of his own book if it was written by someone he did not resonate with. As Lighthouse Trails has revealed in past articles and books, Marcus Borg denies the tenets of the Christian faith including the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, and His atonement for sin. Roger Oakland discusses Borg in Faith Undone:
Borg explains in his book The God We Never Knew that his views on God, the Bible, and Christianity were transformed while he was in seminary:There’s no possible way that Calvin Miller could have been familiar with Borg’s writings and not been aware of his blatantly anti-Gospel stance. This is a common problem that Lighthouse Trails has had in the past and continues to have that people we are critical of tend to resonate with those who are blatant in their New Age views, but they themselves appear to be relatively benign to the larger evangelical community. (See a book review of one of Borg’s books.)
“I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God. . . . I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority.” (p. 125)
This attitude would certainly explain how Borg could say: “Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world” (p. 125) (from p. 196, Faith Undone).
3. As we have shown above, Calvin Miller holds to contemplative persuasions. And yet, these Bibles have an article written by him within their pages. What this will do is point Bible readers to Miller and his writings and possibly even to Marcus Borg and his writings. To have Calvin Miller’s article in a Bible seems to be a terrible dichotomy: i.e., the Bible points people to the Gospel’s message of the Cross and man’s sinful state and need of a Savior while contemplative, as a movement, points people to man’s supposed divinity and diminishes the need for a Savior.
4. In view of Calvin Miller’s contemplative propensities, let’s briefly examine his article in the Holman Bibles, “Why You Should Read the King James Bible.” In the article, he lists three reasons why the KJV should be read: 1) it is the version your parents and grandparents read 2) it has literary and poetic strength and beauty, and 3) there is ease in memorizing verses in the KJV because of its “high literary resonance.” While these reasons all produce merit, the article seems to turn the KJV into more of a poetic book than the Word of God. While Lighthouse Trails is not in the category of what some call King James Only (in that that is the only version someone can get saved through), we do see it as a standard high above many of the Bible versions available today. Thus we have come to trust it more than others. We find it noteworthy of these two things: one, that emerging church figures (such as Phyllis Tickle who suggest it is a lovely book of poetic literature but not an authority in our lives and Tony Jones who minimizes the authority of the Bible as the Word of God) have done much to disregard the Bible as God’s inspired Word, and two, that the Holman Bibles include someone (Miller) who resonates with a man (Borg) who rejects the basic fundamentals of Christianity and Miller himself speaks of the poetic nature of the Bible.
Another Possible Ramification:
There are serious implications and possible ramifications regarding what is going on here. For instance, something many may not have considered: The King James Bible has no copyright on it because of its age. Bluntly put, anyone can do anything they want to that Bible and still call it the King James Bible. As an example, in some of Holman’s editions, they have changed the spelling of some words (e.g., Saviour to Savior). This might not seem like a big deal to some people, but how do we know what a particular publisher is changing and not changing? If they can change the spellings of words, they can also omit or change words and phrases. For instance, they could change or remove references to homosexuality (e.g., 1 Corinthians 6:9, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:27) or to the deity of Christ (e.g., Romans 9:5, Isaiah 40:3 – see more). While we do believe that the Lord will preserve and protect His Word, the “editing” of the Kings James Bible could become a free-for-all to emergent-leaning publishers.
Conclusion: Perhaps it would be a good idea to check inside your own Bibles and ones you are giving as gifts and make sure there are no articles written by contemplative and/or emerging authors. If any reading this feel compelled, here is the contact information for Holman Bible Publishers. If you do contact them, please ask them to remove the article by Calvin Miller in their Bible editions.
Note: Lighthouse Trails has put in two calls into Holman, but we have not yet heard back from anyone regarding this matter.Update: On the afternoon of April 8th, shortly after this article was posted, we received a phone call from someone who works at Holman Publishers. She is going to be passing this article onto the editorial department. We were told that LifeWay Resources is the parent company of B & H (Broadman & Holman).
Holman Bible Publishers
127 9th Avenue N
Nashville, TN 37234-0002
|BOOK REVIEW: Putting Away Childish Things, a Tale of Modern Faith by Marcus J. Borg|
LTRP Note: While reading this book review
on Marcus Borg’s new book, please bear in mind
two things: one, that Borg rejects essential tenets
of the biblical Christian faith (such as that Jesus Christ
is the Son of God, that he was born of a virgin, and
that He was God), and two, that numerous emerging
“progressive” church leaders have at various times
shown admiration for Borg and his writings (these would
include Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Calvin Miller (included Borg
in his book, The Book of Jesus), Walter Brueggemann
(helped write Richard Foster’s “Bible”) and at least on
one occasion, Leonard Sweet). After you read this book
review, you may better understand why Lighthouse Trails
is so concerned about the “new” spirituality that has
entered the Christian church and been embraced by so
many of its leaders and pastors.
BOOK REVIEW: "Putting Away Childish Things,
a Tale of Modern Faith" by Marcus Borg
By Ted Kyle
Putting Away Childish Things, a Tale of Modern Faith by Marcus J. Borg,
published by Harper One, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2010, 342
Learning to Doubt 101
Marcus J. Borg is a veteran of the Christianity wars, having been at one time a member of
The Jesus Seminar, a humanist circle of liberal theologians who set themselves the task of
voting Bible passes “in” or “out,” depending upon their supposed collective wisdom. Borg
is also professor emeritus in the philosophy department at Oregon State University, and
the author of the New York Times best-selling Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The
Heart of Christianity, The Last Week, and Jesus (from the dust cover). Borg’s latest book,
Putting Away Childish Things, is a novel. It is his first work of fiction, but he uses this vehicle
knowledgeably to make his points. His protagonist is Kate Riley, an assistant professor in
the department of religious studies at a small Midwestern liberal arts college. Kate is serious
about her religion and thinks of herself as a Christian—though her concept of what that
means would not agree with a conservative’s definition: she has had a lover (from whom
she distanced herself when she decided he was not marriage-material), as well as other
sexual encounters, and would not mind another liaison, though the only man she likes in
her surroundings is gay. He is, accordingly, her best friend but not her lover. The thought
that extra-marital sex is sinful adultery does not enter the picture—it is no doubt one of the
strictures that liberals have written out of their workaday Bibles. Sin and the need for
forgiveness receive no honored place at the table in this book. As a story, this is not an easy
read, being burdened with its load of liberal doctrine. But as a literary device to lead the
unwary into swallowing that doctrine, along with the vulnerable student, Erin, it may succeed
very well. Readers should be aware that this is an agenda-driven book. Virtually everything in
it is there for a purpose. The author’s most important point is championing the Age of
Enlightenment’s attack on the inerrancy of the Bible. It is a theme he introduces early
and often throughout the book, as the following dialog illustrates:
Fiona, a member of Kate’s class, Religion and the Enlightenment, spoke up in an early class
“I’ve had a couple of courses from Kate—I mean, Professor Riley—before and one of the
things I’ve learned is that we need to set aside our worldview if we’re going to understand
other worldviews…I ‘m not sure where that leads—I just know that there are a lot of different
ways of seeing.” Another student (Andrew, the class skeptic): “But you must know that our
way of seeing things is just one among many. How do we know it’s any better?…. There’s no
one true way of seeing—there are only ways of seeing…. And if you take that
seriously, it means we can’t really know anything for sure” (p. 101).
Another student (Erin) protests: “I belong to a Christian group… We think there are some
absolutes, that there have to be. Otherwise, anything goes.”
Andrew: “And where do you get your absolutes?
Erin: “Well, we—the group I’m part of—get them from the Bible. We—at least most of us—
think the Bible is infallible, because it’s inspired by the Holy Spirit. And we think that if you don’t
think that way, then the Bible is just another book, and you get to pick and choose what you
like and don’t like in it. That’s called cafeteria Christianity.”
Andrew: “So, in a sea of relativity, the Bible is an absolute? The Bible is the exception?”
Kate, the professor, interrupted the silence which followed to say that the discussion is about
“the central question of the course: What happens to the Bible and Christianity within the
framework of modern thought?… What has happened to the notion of sacred scriptures and
sacred traditions over the past three centuries because of the encounter with the Enlightenment?”
It is a thought-provoking session, well-designed to crack open old belief-positions absorbed
without much thought as children. For many, it opens the floodgates of questions and doubts.
Others have already passed that stage and now are convinced that the opening chapters of
Genesis, the miracles in both Testaments, and much else in the Bible are not true. In Kate’s class
they will be exposed to philosophical arguments to strengthens this disbelief.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN THE BOOK
1. The Two Narratives of Jesus’ Birth
One of the major plot twists comes in the form of reaction to a newly-published book by Kate:
Two Stories, One Birth. In the book, she sharply distinguishes between the “stories” of our
Lord’s birth in Matthew and Luke, instead of fitting them together to give a fuller picture of the
occasion, as is normally done. Matthew’s account, she wrote, is dark and threatening, being
dominated by Herod’s plot to kill the infant Jesus. Luke, however, “is basically joyful. There’s no
plot by Herod to Kill Jesus; instead, there are hymns filled with joy” (page 24). Additionally, her
book concludes that in Matthew, Mary and Joseph live in Bethlehem, in contrast to Luke’s
account of the lengthy trip to Bethlehem from Nazareth. She comes to this astounding
conclusion simply because “Matthew’s narrative makes no mention of the couple traveling there,
leading us to assume that Bethlehem is their home” (page 31). All this sets the stage for Kate to
make her case during radio interviews that the stories of Jesus’ birth in both Gospels are parables
—and “parables are about meaning, not factuality. And the truth of a parable is its meaning.
Parables can be truthful, truth-filled, even while not being historically factual” (page 26). The
interviewer responds with a leading question: “As I understand your book, you’re saying that
it doesn’t matter whether there was a star of Bethlehem or wise men bringing gifts, or whether
Jesus was born at home or in a stable, or whether angels sang to shepherds….Would you extend
this to the virgin birth as well—that it doesn’t matter whether it happened?” (page 27). Kate ducks
the question: “Well, my emphasis as a historian is on the meaning of a story of a divine
conception in the context of the first century, not on whether it happened.” Much more is to
come in Kate’s class sessions, where students are subtly led to question the Genesis account of
Creation, including the creation of our first parents, Adam and Eve, miracles in both Testaments,
and much else which is abhorrent to liberal thinking.
[Reviewer’s note: This retreat into theological gobbledygook is standard procedure throughout
the book, in which pregnant suggestions and hanging questions are used to plant doubts,
rather than making direct assertions regarding the unreliability of the Bible.]
2. Setting Us Straight on Homosexuality—and This Is a Biggie!
Erin, the student who has been part of the campus conservative club, The Way, has begun
to question many things she had formerly taken for granted, such as the inerrancy of the Bible.
Then, over the Christmas break, she learnedthat her younger brother is gay, and she is caught
between her feelings for her brother and what the Bible says about homosexuality. Before she
goes to Kate for guidance, she reads two books she finds in the college library (Dirt, Greed and
Sex, by William Countryman andThe New Testament and Homosexuality by Robin Scroggs)
and in them, she tells Kate, she finds that “homosexuality is an abomination is in a context in
Leviticus that also forbids lots of things that almost all Christians think are fine. Like planting two
kinds o seed in the same field or wearing garments made of two kinds of cloth—I mean that
would rule out blends. We set those laws aside and say they don’t apply to our time—so
why should we think the verse about homosexuality applies to all times? And what they say
about two of the three verses in the New Testament about homosexuality makes sense to me
—that they probably refer to an older man having sex with a young boy… But the part of the
New Testament that I still have trouble with is that passage from Paul in Romans….” She then
reads Romans 1:26-27 aloud. “That’s really strong,” she says to Kate. “…That’s thepassage I
stumble over.” Kate has her read the next verse. Erin reads verse 28, supposedly from her
NIV Student Bible: “Furthermore, since they [the Gentiles] did not think it worthwhile to retain
the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be
done” (page 207).
[Reviewer’s note: The words, “the Gentiles,” are not in the original Greek, nor are they in any
Bible I have ever seen, specifically including the NIV Student Bible. The parenthetical words were
doubtless added by Borg or an editor to buttress the professor’s argument that Paul is simply
repeating “standard Jewish synagogue rhetoric about what Gentiles are like” (page 207). Erin,
who wants to avoid having to regard her brother as under God’s condemnation, is convinced.
And so might be readers of the book who fail to compare the quotation before them with their
own Bibles—for the words appear to be part of the sacred text, despite being placed in a
[It seems to this reviewer that Borg has crossed a very hazardous boundary indeed, for the
Bible contains stern warnings about adding to or taking away from God’s Word
(Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18-19, which includes a dire warning for tampering with
[While the addition of these words may appeal to those who try to abrogate the Bible’s
condemnation of homosexuality, it cannot be shaken. And Paul’s whole argument in Romans
chapter 1 applies to every individual of whatever persuasion or religion—against “all ungodliness
and unrighteousness of men, who; hold the truth in unrighteousness” (vs. 18).]
Things then get worse in the counseling session: While Erin is absorbing the impact of Kate’s
suggestion that Paul didn’t really mean to call homosexuality an abomination, Kate goes on to
suggest that even if Paul did mean exactly what he said, he could very well have been mistaken
—implying that there is no Holy Spirit inspiration involved (page 209).Truly, wickedness is at work
in this book.
3. Positing Two Jesuses
In a class discussion about the effect of the Enlightenment on the Church’s understanding of
Jesus’ intentions and accomplishments, Kate states in a hand-out that “Jesus as a historical figure
was not the same as the gospels portray him.
This especially the case in John’s gospel”—which, she writes, “is a very developed layer of the
tradition.” In other words, liberal scholars, including The Jesus Seminar, do not believe Jesus
regarded Himself as the Son of God, or Messiah, or the Bread of Life, etc. Nor do they believe
Jesus came to Earth to die as the Lamb of God. All these things, they insist, were claimed for Him,
after His death, by His followers (pages 238-239). These theologians deny especially the factuality
of John’s Gospel, including our Lord’s assertion that “I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
4. Tie-ins with New Age and Emergent Church Thought
Martin, a minor figure in the book, who is Kate’s one-time (and possibly future) lover, outlines
a lecture he will give about mysticism. He jots down: “Would affect our sense of what the word
‘God’ points to: a reality that can be known and that is ‘all around us’—not a person-
like being ‘out there,’ separate from the universe, a super-powerful authority figure
whose existence can be argued about” (page 133). Later we learn that Kate shares this belief with
Martin (page 276).
Additionally, in perhaps the only inclusion of real persons in the book, Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis
are recommended by a faculty member of the seminary that is inviting Kate to fill a temporary
position. He says: “I would love to have either of them on our faculty, though I don’t imagine
they’d be interested. Both are committed evangelicals” (page 149).
5. A Horrifying Glimpse into Liberal Academia
The seminary which has invited Kate for a one-year visiting professorship has, in Martin’s words:
“We have so many specialized points of view here—Asian, African, feminist, womanist, gay, lesbian,
plus, of course, older white male.” He goes on to say: “Don’t get me wrong—I’ve learned a lot
from feminist theology and African theology and Asian theology and gay theology, and I’m
grateful” (page 269).
Conclusion: While I can only conclude that this book will lead readers away from truth
(and from the Gospel) rather than to it, one poem quoted in the book, “Dover Beach”
written by British poet Matthew Arnold in 1870, moved me. Arnold was attempting to describe
how people’s faith in God was being shattered by overtly unbiblical challenges.
The sea is calm tonight,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits—on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch’d land,
Listen! You hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d,
But now I only hear its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
The third stanza may seem to tell the tale of the Church’s defensive battle against the attacks
of the Enlightenment—a tale of retreat and gathering impotence in the face of worldly knowledge.
Yet the tale is true only on the surface, for God, who cannot lie, has sworn that the gates of hell
shall not prevail against His church. Our Lord has also sworn that His Gospel “shall be preached i
n all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).
Though the church in our land is beleaguered, let us recall that “… They are not all Israel, which
are of Israel”(Rom. 9:6), and that all this was foretold: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that i
n the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines
of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1).
The Church in America, as in Europe in general, has forgotten that “…strait is the gate, and
narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14). We are
called to live as pilgrims and sojourners in a strange land, for this land is not our true home:
we seek another! Meanwhile, let us soldier on for our Captain, holding His banner high, knowing
that our work is not in vain—for our Father declared, “So shall my word be that goeth forth
out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).
Praise His Name!
P.S.: If you wonder about Borg’s title, as I did, I have to tell you that he never mentions
it in the book. But it dawned on me eventually that he is describing Erin, the girl who came to
college clinging to her childhood faith, and lost it in the blaze of the Enlightenment. He’d like to
be describing real persons—people like you and me. But personally, I’d much rather have the
child-like faith that our Lord had in mind when He said: “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall
not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17).
Marcus Borg – A Key Force in the Emerging “New Paradigm” of Christian Faith