The Robertson family is publishing their own specialty Bible, The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible. It features ancillary notes on faith, family, freedom, and other traditional values. (Let’s hope this doesn’t include the “value” of pretending the whole Jim Crow era never happened.*)
Last week, I wrote for OnFaith about four modern versions of the Bible that I believe are ruining the Bible—four ways in which the proliferation of Bibles is having the opposite of its desired effect. Commoditizing Scripture is causing us to read and value it less, not more.
But I seem to have neglected one version: the vanity Bible.
To be fair, vanity Bibles are nothing new. Joyce Meyer has one. John MacArthur has one. Charles Swindoll has one. Max Lucado has three. Even Thomas Kinkade has his own Bible. (No word on whether it includes anything as awesome as this.)
Some of these so-called vanity Bibles are better than others. At least most of the people listed above can lay claim to being Bible teachers of one kind or another. And not all of them opted to have their name put in the title.
But a Duck Dynasty Bible?
The product description notes that one of the contributing family members is a pastor with 22 years of experience. That’s good. But that’s not why anyone is going to buy this Bible. People are buying it for the guys who make popular duck calls and star in a reality TV show of dubious authenticity. (I guess I could’ve just said “star in a reality TV show.”)
I don’t doubt the Robertson family loves the Bible. I don’t doubt they’re serious about their faith. But it’s hard to see this as something more than an attempt to extend the lucrative Duck Dynasty franchise.
Here’s the question: Should we be using holy writ to grow our own empires?
And can the notion of vanity Bibles be reconciled with Paul’s rebuke against those who rallied around the first-century equivalent of celebrity pastors?
“I follow Paul.”
“I follow Apollos.”
You can almost hear the modern-day version.
“I follow MacArthur.”
“I follow Driscoll.”
“I follow… the Duck Dynasty guys.”
If we want people to take the Bible seriously, maybe we should stop cheapening it with gimmicky novelty editions. No wonder Bible reading fell 20% in a single generation.
*In fairness to the publisher, I know from personal experience that the lead times on projects like this can be considerable. So it’s possible they signed this deal before Phil Robertson’s controversial comments about gays and African Americans last December. That still leaves larger question about the legitimacy of vanity Bibles unresolved, in my opinion.