Jimmy Carter, arguably the worst President the United States ever had (until trumped by President Obama), has authored his own “study” Bible. Using the New International Version as the text, this new “study” Bible is titled, “Lessons From Life Bible,” with “Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter.”
This Bible uses “Mr. Carter’s years of teaching Sunday school lessons at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, GA, and meshes them with the text of the NIV Bible.” Zondervan’s website
has this synopsis: “The NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter hardcover is just that: the legacy of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has been teaching directly from the Bible for over 65 years and has taken the Bible’s teachings seriously, implementing them into his life’s work. Now he shares his own insights and life lessons with you, opening up the Scripture in a new and fresh way.”
This is the same Jimmy Carter who several years ago said that Mormons should be considered as part of the Christian community, and that the Southern Baptist denomination was wrong to say that the Mormon church is a cult. I wrote a personal letter to Mr. Carter at the time, explaining why Mormons weren’t Christians, but he never responded to me.
So what can we expect from the “study” notes in this Bible? I think we can glean Mr. Carter’s theology from a recent interview he had with the Huffington Post (now remember, this is a man who teaches “directly from the Bible” and takes “the Bible’s teachings seriously”).
HP: Did God write the Bible?
Carter: God inspired the Bible but didn’t write every word in the Bible. We know, for instance that stars can’t fall on the earth, stars are much larger than the earth. That was a limitation of knowledge of the universe or physics, or astronomy at that time, but that doesn’t bother me at all.
My comment: Do we not call meteors “falling stars”?
HP: How do you approach the passages in the Bible that talk about God’s creation (Genesis 1:1) while maintaining a positive attitude towards science?
Carter: I happen to have an advantage there because I am a nuclear physicist by training and a deeply committed Christian. I don’t have any doubt in my own mind about God who created the entire universe. But I don’t adhere to passages that so and so was created 4000 years before Christ, and things of that kind. Today we have shown that the earth and the stars were created millions, even billions, of years before.
My comment: So he is a nuclear physicist and that gives him knowledge over God? We have definitely NOT “shown that the earth and the stars were created millions, even billions, of years before.”; this is all speculation and theories from a materialistic, evolutionist worldview without facts. By this statement, Carter dismisses the divine inspiration of Scripture by saying Genesis 1 is a lie.
HP: What do you say to those who point to certain scriptures that women should not teach men or speak in church? (1 Corinthians 1:14)
Carter: I separated from the Southern Baptists when they adopted the discriminatory attitude towards women, because I believe what Paul taught in Galatians that there is no distinction in God’s eyes between men and women, slaves and masters, Jews and non-Jews -– everybody is created equally in the eyes of God. There are some things that were said back in those days –- Paul also said that women should not be adorned, fix up their hair, put on cosmetics, and that every woman who goes in a place of worship should have her head covered. Paul also said that men should not cut their beards and advocated against people getting married, except if they couldn’t control their sexual urges. Those kinds of things applied to the customs of those days. Every worshipper has to decide if and when they want those particular passages to apply to them and their lives.
My comments: Where do I start?! It is NOT a “discriminatory attitude towards women” which says there are roles in the Church which are to only be filled by men. Paul gave reasons (1 Cor. 14:33b-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-12) which relate to the creative order and stated that his teachings on the subject were for all churches everywhere. Women are not to be in authority over men or teach them in the assembly. Having different roles doe not make women unequal to men. Carter’s abuse of Galatians is typical of those promoting the feminist agenda. Were priests more equal to than the laymen in God’s eyes in the Old Testament? No, they just had a different role. Paul did NOT say that women were not to be adorned, etc, rather he said for them to dress modestly, and the examples he gave of what not to do were examples of ostentatiousness (1 Tim. 29-10). Peter also mentioned adornment when he said that should not be where their beauty comes from (1 Pet. 3:3-4), again appealing to modesty and humility. Nor did Paul say a woman should have her head covered upon entering a place of worship (1 Cor. 11). What he said was that a woman should have her head covered if she is prophesying or praying audibly in public, but at the same time he said that a man should NOT have his head covered during such occasions. The instruction was for symbolic reasons, which were never revoked. I don’t remember Paul ever saying a man should not cut his beard - I think this “experienced” Sunday School teacher is mixing up O.T. laws for Israel with Paul’s teachings. Paul’s advice about singleness was only that if one was single they would not be distracted from service to the Lord, but that each one should decide for themselves; Paul was not against marriage.
HP: A lot of people point to the Bible for reasons why gay people should not be in the church, or accepted in any way.
Carter: Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things -– he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies. ... if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine.
My comment: Jesus also didn’t mention child abuse, pedophilia, wife beating, bestiality, etc, so I guess he was okay with those? Christ, being God, had plenty so say about homosexuality in the O.T. and soundly condemned it. (Notice the behavior is condemned rather than an “orientation.”). While Christ did indeed address marriage, referring back to Adam and Eve as what marriage was, Carter sanctions same-sex unions, as does his church.
HP: Jesus says I am the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). How can you remain true to an exclusivist faith claim while respecting other faith traditions?
Carter: Jesus also taught that we should not judge other people (Matthew 7:1), and that it is God who judges people, so I am willing to let God make those judgments, in the ultimate time whenever it might come. I think ‘judge not that you be not judged’ is the best advice that I will follow. ... There are many verses in the Bible that you could interpret very rigidly and that makes you ultimately into a fundamentalist. When you think you are better than anybody else -- that you are closer to God than other people, and therefore they are inferior to you and subhuman -- that leads to conflict and hatred and dissonance among people when we should be working for peace.
My comments: Typical of liberals, Carter abuses the Matthew 7 passage. The context is that we shouldn’t judge hypocritically, which is why He states a few verses later that we can judge the other as long as we’ve judged ourselves first by the same standards. Throughout the Bible we are told to make right judgments. Then Carter makes “fundamentalist” a disparaging adjective. Well, if I’m in an airplane, I certainly want a fundamentalist pilot, and when I have my taxes done, I pay a fundamentalist CPA. Making right judgments is what God wants us to do, and it is a non sequitur to say that this makes one feel better than others. Carter in this very response is making judgments. But notice that Carter never really answered the question.
Albert Mohler also recently interviewed Carter and received some similar responses. Here are some comments by Carter which were not similar to the Huffington Post’s article:
Carter: I personally believe, maybe contrary to many of your listeners, that homosexuality is ingrained in a person’s character and is not something they adopt and can abandon at will. So I know that what I’ve just explained to you might be somewhat controversial, but it’s the way I feel.
My comment: So without any medical or scientific evidence for his position, and only going on his personal feelings, Mr. Carter has decided that homosexuality is ingrained even though plenty of evidence proves it is not.
Mohler: Mr. President, in terms of the gospel itself, one of the issues you’ve written about of late has been your concern about how it’s interpreted. In terms of the question, “Must someone come to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ to be saved?”, and in a couple of your books, you suggested that you’re not ready to say that, but I don’t want to put words in your mouth. What is your understanding of the gospel and the necessity of personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Carter: I believe it is necessary, and I teach that every Sunday in my classes that it is necessary for full salvation and acceptance before God to believe in Jesus Christ. The question then comes up, though, “However, how about the people that don’t know about Christ? How about the ones to whom Christians, evangelicals, have never reached or given them the message?” And I don’t feel constrained, Dr. Mohler, to condemn those people as lost or as going to hell, and I rationalize it, perhaps, in using theological terms, in using biblical terms, by Jesus’ admonishment that we should not judge other people, but let God be the Judge. So, in a quandary like that about people who don’t know about Christ, what would be their fate? I’m inclined to believe that they will not be condemned or punished by God.
My comment: So, according to Carter’s teaching, it would really be better if I never heard about Christ because then I “will not be condemned or punished by God.” I wonder where he finds support for this in Scripture?
Carter: ... I feel very strongly, in the eyes of God, women are equal to men and to choose the particular passages that say that women have to be subservient to men and that they should not teach men and boys, I think it contrary to the basic thrust of what Christ meant and said. ... I believe in complete equality. My wife happens to be a deacon in our little church in Plains that I’ve described already. We have two pastors—one is a man and one is his wife. They both are ordained, and I participated in the ordination. So I believe that throughout religious faith that women should be treated equally with men....
My comment: While this has similar comments to the other interview, I want to point out that Carter makes a false charge that these biblical passages make women “subservient to men.” Nor does any passage say that women shouldn’t teach boys! His wife being a deacon in his church, and his church having a female pastor, demonstrates the liberal position of his assembly. Which is why they approve of homosexuality!
I would say that reading Carter’s various liberal views, I think we know what to expect in the way of his commentary in this new Bible: it will be supportive of all social gospel teachings, the feminist agenda, and the homosexual agenda.
Just what we need - a new liberal study Bible. Zondervan continues its best to pollute the Christian faith.