The Preacher's Bible

I saw a video on Twitter earlier for “The Preacher’s Bible.”

I don’t know how to link the video. Someone named Nate Pickowicz tweeted it.

This is not something I’ve thought much about, and I could be way off, but…

A $215 Bible made in the Netherlands with the finest leather, printed on imported French Paper, with imported British bookmarks, and on and on and on…

It just turns my stomach. And I’m not sure why I have such a visceral reaction against it. A nice Bible sounds like a good thing. I’m sure it has some lifetime-warranty and what-not. I can easily rationalize it, but it just doesn’t “set” right to me. Maybe because I grew up poor and lived on Turkey dogs for a couple years. I don’t know.

My wife saw the video and thought it was a parody…

What say you Sanityville?

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It’s not the quality or even really the price that turns you off, I’d guess. Rather it is the values the advertising is aimed at that turn your stomach. Are our preachers today really the kind of men that are motivated by the desires this ad is aimed at appealing to? (NOTE: I haven’t watched it yet.) Are the highest aspirations we have to enjoy the finer things in life? Are we really that soft? Are we really that self-indulgent and self-important? Do we really set that much stock in our image?

Yes. We preachers are such men, sadly.

I can understand not liking such an expensive bible. It can give off the feeling of decadence or snobbery. However, we should remember Matthew 7:2:

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

It is very easy to be a reverse snob. Look down on someone who has spent that much on a bible. But what have I spent $215 in my life? To be honest, I’ve blown that in one go on a lot worse things than a well made bible. In fact, I could have saved quite a bit more than $215 on my last car purchase (a minivan that I got to accomadate our growing family) if I had bought a similar vehicle with a few less nice or convenient options and no less functionality. In this life, we all make choices, and there’s always a reason someone can criticize them.

That doesn’t mean I can’t be critical of someone purchasing this particular bible, or critical of those who are offering it. It does mean that it is extremely easy to be a hypocrite when it comes to things like this. My tendency probably is, if a man’s conscience is clean about purchasing this particular bible, I probably wouldn’t gainsay it unless he clearly is disobeying a command of God in doing so, like 1 Timothy 5:8 or Jeremiah 9:23-24.

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I think this is probably accurate. I think of John the Baptist, dressed in camel skin and eating locusts. I want to be more like that guy. I try to point to him when I talk to other men, or my sons. I just can’t see him carrying “the Preacher’s Bible.”

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You bring up a good point. I can certainly be overly judgmental. I appreciate the reproof.

And yet your statement

doesn’t work for me.

I can easily see a man who’s conscience is clean about driving a Mercedes but as a Christian brother I would tell him probably to drive a Ford.

On the other hand…

I was in a Christian bookstore a few years ago and there was this T-shirt for 20 bucks. It had a cross - or some representation of Christianity - on the front and the back said something like “this shirt is illegal in 29 countries.” I dont remember the number of countries but that was the general message. It was right next to a bunch of bargain priced Bibles. Like, this is so valuable it s illegal in all these countries, but it can be yours for $3.95. The shirt cost far more than the Bible.

So there’s an example where the - I don’t now - cheapness (?) of the Bible bothered me. And it’s not that I dont want to Bible to be available to people. I’m a big fan of the printing press and the ability of people to have good things to read.

I guess its just a mixed up world, and I’m trying to figure it out.

But I do appreciate your viewpoint here.

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Uh…? Can you talk through your reasoning on this? There are many cases of Christians who God has been pleased to bless materially. I know some who give away more money than I make in a year or otherwise contribute a very great percentage of their wealth. One wealthy individual of my acquaintance is almost always either coordinating medical missions or putting himself in harm’s way on a medical missions excursion. And so what if they drive around a BMW X5 after it all? Who am I to burden their conscience? I think we need much caution here.

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I’ve got to ask the same question, along with how you come up with a standard on this. And should I tell you to drive a Kia instead of a Ford?

In other words, where is the line, and, since you’ve separated it from God’s commands, how is it not arbitrary?

Edited to add: Also, just to be clear, devotion to affluence, materialism, and self-centeredness are massive problems in America and the American church, and I share your concerns about it @Nathan_Smith. I just want to make sure we address it with the wisdom of God’s Word, and not simply what makes us feel uncomfortable. I also don’t want to unnecessarily guilt believers for the simple fact that God has blessed them materially.

Then the question becomes: what is the best Bible to get? Which text? NASB? NKJV? ESV? Which study notes? Macarthur? Reformed? Apologetics?

I assume you will know this Eric, but most of the things you said about rich people don’t necessarily say anything about whether they’re pleasing to God or whether that person is greedy or not. There are plenty of greedy people who give away more than I make in a year or contribute a big percentage of their wealth and God is not impressed. I assume what you mean between the lines is those people you speak of have disciplined their greed, do not love money, and yet have great material blessings from God (lots of property, a nice house, a BMW, etc). And while I assume you know this, I think it’s worth pointing out because me 10 years ago would have been impressed just because someone gave lots of money away (and maybe there’s someone like that reading your post).

If some rich man I know and love gives away more than I make in a year and yet is still greedy and denies himself no pleasures in this world, I can still charge him to repent and exhort him to discipline his greed. Surely Nathan isn’t making a law that a Christian can’t drive a Mercedes and only a Ford. If he is saying that, then, of course, that’s adding to Scripture. But likely what he’s saying is if a rich person is asking him how to discipline his greed and protect his family from the love of money, one way might be to buy a Ford instead of a Mercedes, or a Kia instead of a Ford or BMW X5 instead of a Bentley Continental.

The point is that the person is humble about the great dangers and temptations that are tied up in their money. They discipline their greed. The know that godliness with contentment is great gain. They don’t desire to be rich, they don’t love money, they’re not haughty, they don’t set their hopes on their riches (but God), they’re rich in good works, generous and ready to share (1 Tim 6:3-10;17-19)

I think it’s important to say that the humble rich person will not feel burdened by your exhortations to these things and will not find their conscience burdened by you either, but will be glad to have the help. The humble rich will be asking for your help/thoughts because they know the danger in their hearts to be greedy and know they need others to keep watch over their souls. Most rich won’t ask for help like this, but the humble ones do. Much love, Joel

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Thanks for the vector Joel, I didn’t mean to imply that quantity is everything but rather that quantity is not by itself an indicator of greed. Greed is much more subtle than that and can be indulged by anyone anywhere on the economic spectrum.

Not really. Not in a way I’m fully comfortable with.

First, I dont want to draw a hard line somewhere God’s word doesnt. And I’m prone to that, so I’m trying to guard against it.

Second, I can’t say I really have a comfortable understanding here. I guess I’m trying to “feel” the issue out, which probably isn’t best.

The first principle I would point to would be toward simplicity and away from ostentatious or even comfort. Toward David the Shepherd and not David the King. And I wouldnt argue with there was something wrong with David having the riches. Surely it was God who blessed him and gave it to him. At the same time, it feels like the rich kingly lifestyle was somewhat of a stumbling block to him and especially the kings who came after him, who’s hearts werent turned as fully to the Lord.

The second principle is that of outwardly glorifying God. Our lives should say that Christ is first. Paul learned the secret of being content in all things because Christ was/is first. So what we own/value/love should show that Jesus is our Lord.

The third principle would be that I have a knowledge that greed is corrupting. It is easy to fall into especially when you can point to others who are worse than you (and not you personally). So we have to guard against it.

For me, loving money and the things that money buys has never really been a stumbling block, but I’ve struggled with Christians who seem to love money, at least from the outside. I dont know if that (the appearance of loving money) counts as not being above reproach - I really dont know one way or the other if it does. And I know a lot of poorer people would wonder the same about me.

In college I had several friends who were native to and lived in Nicaragua. They had trouble making ends meet. Some of these guys would go hungry so their kids could eat. One friend of mine ate the family’s pet bird one lean year. And though I’ve never been what I would call a rich man, I’ve never gone hungry. And I see Christians driving Mercedezes and valuing 215 dollar Bibles… there’s a tension there that I dont know exactly what to do with.

So I know it is up to a person’s consciene, but it can’t just be conscience alone.

As far as the Preachers Bible marketing video goes, I think the thing that gives me the sick “gut-reaction” that I have is just seeing - as @jtbayly says - people absolutely gush over these soft imported Bibles. Its just not how I think of a Shepherd - a John the Baptist or Paul or Barnabas, or someone more recent like Calvin. But I think there’s something else going on as well - at least for me - about the proper way to think of money and how to best use what resources aren’t really ours in the first place.

I’m sure I’m off somewhere. Tell me where I’m wrong. Sharpen me up. I need it. Appreciate the conversation. To @Jesse as well.

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Hi Nathan,

I struggle with such things too.

The Church has pitched between this historically, with the polar opposites marked out by the Dominicans (wealth) and the Franciscans (poverty).

I would say that if we approach the problem with a “how much” mindset we are going to fall into error and wind up in the Dominican or Franciscan camps. The Franciscan sees a big house and a nice car and pronounces the edict, “greed.” The Dominican sees a big house and a nice car and pronounces the edict, “blessing.” Neither of these are right.

The way I look at it is, wealth is a property (could be a trial, a test, a blessing) that God gives to some Christians in His sovereignty and secret will.

Greed has little to do with wealth. Greed is a function of how tightly in one’s heart they hold on to whatever material resources they’ve been given by God, arrogantly holding that those resources are theirs and not God’s. I can be, and probably am, more greedy driving my Prius than some Christians who could buy a fleet of Priuses. Though I am not sure why someone would want to buy a fleet of Priuses.

Because greed is a heart condition, and a sin that can be subtle or suppressed or obscured, pronouncing a diagnosis of greed is something I can only do after walking with and shepherding a person for some period of time - and that, very carefully.

My responsibility toward wealthy congregants under my authority is to intercede on their behalf, that God would enable them to manage well the unique trial of wealth; that they would not trust in their wealth but trust in the Lord Jesus. That their ultimate satisfaction is found in Him and not in whatever brand of car they drive. And then as I walk beside them, offer whatever insight or coaching or rebuke God is happy to give me at the time.

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Wise. Known a lot of greedy men in the throes of the deceitfulness of wealth, but a few threading the needle who would love that sentence above. Can we all admit Jesus said it’s exceedingly rare? That we ourselves are the richest of the rich across man’s history? That wealth is deceitful and is behind one of the three seeds that dies? That the love of money is the root of all evil? That none of us reading this thread need to talk about anyone but ourselves to profit from the discussion, although there’s nothing wrong with our discussion here of others. Jesus sat and watched how much people put in the offering plate and called attention to them, personally, using what this or that man or woman gave to teach His Disciples.

I got into a similar discussion over my calling out John MacArthur a couple years ago over his sinfully large income and what he paid his son-in-law. Most people said it was all relative and no one had any right to call it into question. Then, a couple years later, Masters accrediting agency called the sweetheart deal into question and put them on probation because of it while the local radio/TV station reported “millions” of dollars in income for his son-in-law through the years through John. It struck me then that the pagan public knew sin when they saw it, and thus were scandalized while Christians felt all pious reserving judgment thinking doing so was oh-so-holy. Bunk. Love,

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