For some of you, this title is irony enough. The vivid colors and Declaration-esque typeset on the cover fall in and out of your vision when you scan the book shelves at your local store, but you don’t give it another thought.
Not me, I like shiny things. So I picked up the APB (American Patriot’s Bible) and thumbed through its contents- what I found made me chuckle. Imagine that America is a 200 pound linebacker and Hebrew/Christian Scripture the Sponge Bob toddler costume he’s trying to fit into. A tear here, a rip there, and Sponge Bob’s eyes would bug out, his pants anything but square– so goes the mashing of American history and prophetic narrative in the APB.
The following is a list I compiled of the most striking and chuckle-inducing artifacts I found.
10. What We Can Do for Our Country.
In Exodus 12, the Israelites set up a memorial celebration to commemorate their rescue from Egypt at the hand of the Lord. In the APB, a commentary on this verse is provided, quoting a veteran of the Civil War as saying “It is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for our country in return.” I didn’t realize God = Country.
9. New Testament Title Page.
There is something unsettling about the Capitol Building gracing the title page of the New Testament.
8. Freedom Requires Bravery.
“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” was Paul’s statement in Philippians 1. The APB features an article spring boarding from this verse about the bravery it took the Founding Fathers to sign the Declaration of Independence—one man even signed his name large enough so as to tell the Queen of England he wasn’t scared of her, that he was willing to die for his country. The article goes on to lament a poll in the early 1990’s that showed “only 30 percent would die for God, and fewer would die for their country.” If dying for country is like dying for Jesus, can anyone say “to live is Washington?”
7. “The Christmas/July 4th Link”
is an article written about Colossians 2:7 [“rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith”] that cites John Quincy Adams’ attempt to link the birth of America with the birth of the Messiah. He claims that “the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth,” and “gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets…” I’m pretty sure Jesus did these things when he commissioned his church, but I could be wrong.
6. Worthy of the Name.
The APB editors quote 2 Thessalonians 1:5 “…may be counted worthy of the kingdom…” and interject an article entitled “Worthy of the Name.” This little excerpt features Francis Scott Key saying “He will therefore seek to establish for his country in the eyes of the world, such a character as shall maker her not unworthy of the name of a Christian nation.” Worthy of the Kingdom and worthy of the name “Christian Nation” are two very different things.
5. Last Best Hope of Man.
In the middle of a lament found in Lamentations 3, Jeremiah says “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Well, the editors of APB decided to interject an excerpt of a speech Reagan gave, garnishing it with a partial abstract of the verse (“It is good that one should hope…”), in which Reagan said “We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.” The Lord… us… same thing.
4. Bill Clinton’s Oath.
There are occasional text boxes placed above verses in the APB that point out which sections of Scripture certain Presidents took their oath over. Although many are ironic, one stands out of the pack. It states that Bill Clinton took his oath in 1993 over Galatians 6:8… “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” He then went on to have an adulterous, “improper [sexual] relationship” with Monica Lewinski, but he certainly “Did not have sex with that woman!”
3. Those of Whom the World was not Worthy
is a phrase found in Hebrews 11:38. The editors of APB found it appropriate to write the article “Valley Forge, December 1777” in reference to it. They compare the revolutionary soldiers who died that winter from lack of supplies to “those of whom the world was not worthy” in Hebrews 11; the martyrs that were tried, persecuted, tortured and murdered for their faith.
An article on Galatians 5:1 is entitled “Protector: The Church’s Role in the World.” It contains an excerpt from a speech that Harry Truman gave in which he says,
“The fight to preserve these rights was hard-won. The victory took a toll of human life and treasure so large that it should bring home to us forever how precious, how invaluable, is our liberty which we had just begun to take for granted. Now that we have preserved our freedom of conscience and religion… If men and nations would but live by the precepts of the ancient prophets and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, problems which now seem so difficult would soon disappear.”
Never mind the fact that Truman made the decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan, killing anywhere from 150,000 to 246,000 men, women, and children; something Truman says “preserved our freedom of conscience.” Forget that the very Sermon on the Mount that Truman appeals to blesses the poor, meek, merciful, pure, persecuted peacemakers and includes the commands to “love your enemies” and “not resist an evil person” (Matthew 5). It’s awkward because the verse which the editors quote [Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free] speaks of a freedom CHRIST has won; a victory purchased not in enemy blood, but enemy love and self sacrifice.
1. The fact that the APB Exists.
According to the Bible, the Kingdom of God is “not of this world” (John 18:36) and is not furthered through a worldly struggle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). The Kingdom consists not of governments or empires, but the community of believers around the globe, regardless of nationality. That said, APB props up America as God’s divine Kingdom on earth. And it reached No. 5 on Amazon’s Top 100 list in 2010.