Question: "What is the Green Bible?"
Answer: The Green Bible, published in 2008 by Harper Collins Publishers, is not a new translation. The publishers use the New Revised Standard Version as their text. The whole premise of this version is similar to the “red-letter” editions of the Bible where the words of Christ are printed in red ink. Following this approach, the Green Bible prints in green ink verses and passages which, according to the publisher, deal with environmental topics or creation care. They break this down into four categories: 1. How God and Jesus are involved in creation; 2. How all elements (land, water, plants, humans, animals) are interdependent; 3. How nature responds to God; 4. How we are called to care for creation. The Bible itself is printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink with a cotton/linen cover. There is also a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as several essays by various people including Brian McLaren, of emergent church fame, and Pope John Paul II. Other features include a topical index, a personal “trail study guide,” and an appendix with information on further reading, how to get involved, and practical steps to take.
The idea of a “green” Bible may have merits. The Green Bible can serve as a reminder to believers who are overly critical of today’s modern “green” movement that the Scriptures do speak on the subject of the environment. The heavens, air, oceans, rivers, seas, plants, and animals are all wonderfully created by God. Some need to be reminded that God’s magnificent creation is something to behold, appreciate, respect, and preserve (Genesis 1:26-28). Of course, God’s command to mankind to rule over and subdue the earth does not mean we can abuse it. Rather, God has given care of the environment to mankind to nurture and use with respect, always mindful of our great God as the force behind its creation.
At the same time, there are negative aspects of the Green Bible. A statement by Eugene H. Peterson, author of The Message, explains the whole purpose of the Green Bible: “The Green Bible sets out an urgent agenda for the Christian community.” It seems clear that the main goal and purpose is to promote the “green” agenda and implies that God in His Word confirms this as a primary theme. However, the “urgent agenda” for the Christian community is not the reclamation of the earth, but the reclamation of souls destined for an eternity in hell. Anything that distracts Christians from this most basic reason for our existence is antithetical to God’s plan for His people. Interestingly, the Green Bible does not seem to be prominently used as a tool by those who support today’s “green” movement, no doubt because there are too many other truths in God’s Word that contradict the basic philosophies of the “green” agenda. The Green Bible in reality is a perfect example of what the Apostle Paul speaks about in Romans: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25).
The Green Bible goes beyond just advocating an agenda and actually is teaching false doctrines. This becomes evident in the “Green Bible Quiz,” which has seven questions with three multiple-choice answers for each question. Question #2 asks, “Which verse praising creation is from the Psalms?” and gives Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” as the correct answer. The problem here is that this verse does exactly opposite of what the question asks. The verse is not “praising creation” at all; rather, it speaks of the creation praising the Creator, God. Question #4 in the Green Bible Quiz asks, “Where did Jesus go to commune with nature?” The “correct” answer given is Matthew 4:23, but apparently this was a typo and no doubt should have been Matthew 14:23, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” This verse definitely does not say that Christ went up to the mountain “to commune with nature.” He went up to pray, literally to commune with His Father, God. This goes far beyond stretching the meaning of a verse and actually amounts to deifying nature, which is nothing short of idolatry.
There is nothing wrong with Christians being involved in a conscious effort to appreciate and even preserve God’s wonderful creation. But any effort directed at preserving the planet forever runs counter to God's revealed plan. He tells us in 2 Peter 3:10 that at the end of the age, the earth and all He has created will be destroyed with fire. The physical, natural earth in its present form, along with the entire universe, will be consumed, and God will create a "new heaven and a new earth" (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). As believers, our focus has to be living for the Savior and, in what the Scriptures call the “last days,” to be about the business of sharing the good news of the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ with as many people as possible.