Former President Jimmy Carter has just published a study Bible based on his decades of service as a Sunday School teacher in a Baptist Church. It’s titled NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter, and it “takes 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.” A synopsis on Zondervan’s website describes the book this way:
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.
President Carter recently sat for an interview with The Huffington Post
about the book and his views on controversial biblical subjects. On every question, President Carter gave the answer that one would expect from a theological liberal. Here’s a summary of President Carter’s remarks:
- On literal interpretation, “When we go to the Bible we should keep in mind that the basic principles of the Bible are taught by God, but written down by human beings deprived of modern day knowledge. So there is some fallibility in the writings of the Bible.”
- On inspiration, Carter says that God “didn’t write every word of the Bible” and that there are mistakes in it.
- On creation, “I don’t adhere to passages that so and so was created 4000 years before Christ, and things of that kind.”
- On women in ministry, “I separated from the Southern Baptists when they adopted the discriminatory attitude towards women… Every worshipper has to decide if and when they want those particular passages to apply to them and their lives.”
- On homosexuality, “In all of his teachings about multiple things – [Jesus] never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.”
- On Jesus as the only way of salvation, “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.”
Read the rest here. I think there can be no question that President Carter is an unreliable guide to interpreting the Bible. Thus this study Bible looks to be of very little use to people who really want to understand and obey scripture.
If you’re in the market for a study Bible, you need to find one authored by someone who actually believes that the Bible is true. Obviously, Carter falls short of this standard, and you would do well to pass on his Bible. I recommend this one instead.