Politically correct commentary questions Jesus Christ's deity
A new edition of the popular New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) commentary, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, reinterprets key sections of the Bible to negate or water down orthodox Christian beliefs about homosexuality, Jesus Christ's sovereignty, and the sanctity of life.
The new Annotated Bible -- edited in part by pro-"gay" and feminist scholars -- adopts "gay" revisionist interpretations of Holy Scripture such as that God allegedly destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of inhospitality -- not homosexual sin.
The nation's leading church for homosexuals swiftly hailed the new politically correct Bible commentary. Rev. Troy D. Perry, founder of the homosexual Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), wrote on the church's Web site:
I'm excited to share with you today one of the most important theological breakthroughs in the 33-year history of Metropolitan Community Churches .. the world renowned biblical scholars who prepared The New Oxford Annotated Bible have adopted a great deal of MCC's own scholarship and theology: There is no biblical condemnation of homosexuality -- only prohibitions against its misuse, just as there is no biblical blanket condemnation of heterosexuality, only prohibitions against misuse of that gift.
I am pleased to commend this new study version of the Holy Scriptures. I believe it will be an important addition to the library of every MCC leader -- and will be used by God to further open the doors of all faith communities to love, embrace and affirm God's GLBT children.
Over the last several decades, the New Oxford Annotated Bible has gained wide acceptance in the large denominational churches as a valuable resource in Biblical interpretation. The Third Edition is a replacement for the Second Edition, which was published in 1991.
A comparison of selected commentaries between the two editions readily explains why homosexuals and their liberal allies are overjoyed.
Sodom sin now "inhospitality"
For the last 3,500 years, the sin of Sodom was thought to be the widespread practice of homosexuality by the men of the city. The new Third Edition says differently:
Genesis 19:5-8: "...and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them." Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly."
Second Edition: The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah impressed itself deeply upon later generations as an example of God's total judgment upon appalling wickedness ... the episode is told to illustrate the sexual excesses of Canaanites. 5: Know refers to sexual relations, here homosexual ("sodomy"). 8: Once guests had eaten in his house, Lot felt he had to obey the law of oriental hospitality, which guaranteed protection. Thus his proposal to hand over his daughters showed his determination to put first his obligation as a host.
Third Edition: The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was a prominent example in Israelite tradition of God's total judgment. As in the case of 18:1-8, the main issue here is hospitality to secretly divine visitors. Here, however, the sanctity of hospitality is threatened by the men of the city who wish to rape (know) the guests. Though disapproval of male homosexuality is assumed here, the primary point of this text is how this threat by the townspeople violates the value of hospitality...As a result of his protection of his guests, he (Lot), like Noah, "finds favor" with God and he and his household are rescued out of destruction.
The new Oxford commentary ignores the fact that God had already decided to destroy the city because of the outcry over their grievous sins (see Genesis 18:20 and 19:13). The mission of the two angels who came to Lot's door was to carry out God's judgement.
Other key texts on homosexuality were similarly reinterpreted.
Romans 1:26-28: "For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done."
Second Edition: God gave them up, because in turning from God they violated their true nature, becoming involved in terrible and destructive perversions; God let the process of death work itself out.
Third Edition: While Torah forbids a male "lying with a male as with a woman," Paul's Jewish contemporaries criticized a range of sexual behaviors common in the pagan world. Although widely read today as a reference to homosexuality, the language of unnatural intercourse was more often used in Paul's day to denote not the orientation of sexual desire, but its immoderate indulgence, which was believed to weaken the body.
I Corinthians 6:9-11: "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers--none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."
Second Edition: Male prostitutes, young men or boys in a pederastic relationship; sodomites, the older homosexual.
Third Edition: The Greek term translated male prostitutes and sodomites do not refer to "homosexuals," as in inappropriate older translations; "masturbators" and male prostitutes might be a better translation.
Third edition ambiguous on Christ's sovereignty, divinity
Most perniciously, the New Oxford Annotated Bible's Third Edition commentary leaves questions regarding the sovereignty and divinity of Christ:
John 14:6 --7: "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.'
Second Edition: Access to God is solely through Jesus.
Third Edition: Jesus is the gateway to God.
Note that the Third Edition removed the explicit declaration that Jesus is the only way to God.
Philippians 2:5-7: "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness."
Second Edition: In the form of God, that is, pre-existent and divine. Something to be exploited and never relinquished. But emptied himself, the extreme limit of self-denial.
Third Edition: In the form of God, equality with God, may refer to divine status, or simply preexistence as a heavenly being, or Adam's original immortality, which Christ renounced by becoming subject to death. But emptied himself, the extreme limit of self-denial.
The Third Edition commentary removes the declarative statement of Jesus' divinity and introduces several other interpretations that leave his deity an open question.
Sanctity of life passage disregarded
Psalm 139:13-16: "For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed."
Second Edition: God formed the embryo in the womb (poetically called the depths of the earth) and knew the psalmist's character from the moment of conception.
Third Edition: The mysterious process of creation.
The drastic changes in the Third Edition commentaries may have been influenced by new editors. The Second Edition was edited by Bruce Metzger and Roland Murphy. The Third Edition replaced Mr. Murphy with editors Michael D. Coogan, Marc Z. Brettler, and Carol A. Newsom. Dr. Newsom, in particular, is a feminist theologian who partnered with Dr. Sharon H. Ringe to produce The Womens' Bible Commentary--a feminist perspective of scripture. Dr. Ringe serves as a Biblical consultant to the Reconciling Congregation Program of the United Methodist Church -- an outreach to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender Methodists.
This article can be found on the Culture and Family Institute website (link closed) of the Concerned Women of America. Reprinted with permission.