“Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations,” so states the first sentence on the Conservapedia, a website begun by Andrew Schlafly, son of Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum.

Launched in 2006 and proclaiming itself as the one true defender of the Truth, Conservapedia is making news with its claim that modern translations of the Bible are tainted by liberal bias.

With an allusion to the 10 Commandments, Conservapedia asserts that modern translations of the Bible fail to adhere to its ten guidelines, beginning with a “Framework against Liberal Bias” and concluding with “Preferring Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness.”

Liberals are “downplaying the very real existence of hell and the devil” and responsible for inserting later stories into the biblical text such as Jesus forgiving the woman caught in adultery. As found in John’s Gospel, Conservapedia says noted scholars discount this story as being a later addition.

This is not news.

Even conservative Biblical scholars admit that Mark’s Gospel, the earliest, wasn’t written down until 65-70 CE. There are no pure or unfiltered accounts of the life of Jesus.

When it comes to the Bible, interpretation always depends on assumptions and perspective. Liberals read it liberally, conservatives read it conservatively.

Some time back I had a lunch meeting with a Messianic Jew.  We met at (where else?) the Blind Faith Café.

Messianic Jews are people who were raised as religious or cultural Jews who have converted to Christianity. Messianic Jews believe that Jesus really was the Jewish messiah, the one and only Son of God. For all intents and purposes, messianic Jews are evangelical Christians.

To my partner in dialogue I said, “I believe that Jesus is not the one and only door to God but at once a  window to our humanity and divinity.” He immediately flew off the handle. “And you call yourself a Christian? That’s the problem with all you liberals, you believe that truth is relative. And that’s what’s wrong with this society. The moral breakdown of our society is due to the fact that we don’t believe in the authority of the Bible anymore. Take sex for example. Homosexuality and sexual promiscuity are a result of a society that no longer believes in Biblical morality.”

His retort provided a perfect opening so I said, “I imagine you believe that the Bible teaches monogamy, right?” “Absolutely,” he said. “Then how do you account for the fact that Abraham did not practice monogamy. Abraham not only had a mistress, but the mistress was Hagar, his wife’s maid, and Abraham got her pregnant. This is biblical sexual morality?”

“All right”, he countered,” if you want to talk about the Hebrew Bible, what about the 10 Commandments? Do you believe in the 10 commandments, or not?”

“Sure , I believe it’s wrong to steal unless you are stealing bread to feed your starving family. I believe it’s wrong to lie. But there have been many times that people have told a lie in order to save the life of somebody else. Sometimes morality calls us to confront the complexity of life and seek the highest good”. Life cannot be reduced to dogmatic formulas,” I said.

Round and round we went.   When it comes to the Bible this is the ongoing liberal/conservative debate.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of an idol is : “a representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly : a false god.”

Every attempt by liberals or conservatives to reduce the Bible to fit a preconceived ideology is an attempt to turn the Bible into God. Bibliolotry is another word for this.

A bibliolater is “one having excessive reverence for the letter of the Bible.”

The Bible is not God.

Get it?

I don’t fault conservatives for wanting to change the words to make them more palatable to conservative tastes. We liberals do the same thing.

So let’s start here: in whatever form the diverse biblical cannon appeared or appears, it is not God.  It  is a collection of books that contains the narrative quest of people who seek God–this is why the literature is sacred.

Get it?

In whatever form the flawed biblical narrative appears, I am moved most by the words of Paul in I Cornithians 13: “If I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

As Dante Alighieri reminds us,

The love of God, unutterable and perfect, flows into a pure soul the way that light rushes into a transparent object. The more love that it finds, the more it gives itself, so that, as we grow clear and open, the more complete the joy of loving is. And the more souls who resonate together, the greater the intensity of their love, for, mirror-like, each soul reflects the other.

Whatever your preferred translation, the Bible is not God—never has been and never will be.

I openly confess however that I am a loveolotrist.