4 Reasons Why Holman Publishers Should Not Have Inserted an Article by a Contemplative Author into Their King James Bibles
Recently, Lighthouse Trails learned that Holman Bible Publishers (the oldest Bible publisher in America) has inserted an article by a strong contemplative proponent into several of their King James Version Bibles (some of which Lighthouse Trails WAS carrying) including: the Ultra Thin Reference Bible, the Pocket-Sized Bible Classic, the Large Print Ultra Thin Bible, and the Personal Reference Bible. The article in the Bibles is titled, “Why You Should Read the King James Bible,” written by the late Calvin Miller (died 2012). This is a major issue, and let us tell you 4 reasons why we believe Holman should not have done this:
1. Calvin Miller is an advocate for contemplative/centering prayer. Ray Yungen discusses Miller in A Time of Departing:
In Into the Depths of God, [Calvin] Miller encourages readers to engage in centering prayer and explains it as a union between man and God:
“Centering is the merger of two ‘selves’—ours and his [God’s]. Centering is union with Christ. It is not a union that eradicates either self but one that heightens both” (p. 107).
Into the Depths of God is an exhortation in contemplative spirituality and is brimming with quotes by Thomas Merton and other contemplatives. Miller speaks of the “wonderful relationship between ecstasy [mystical state] and transcendence [God],” and says that “Ecstasy is meant to increase our desire for heaven” (p. 96) (A Time of Departing, p. 186).
Into the Depths of God is riddled with favorable quotes by and references to a number of contemplative mystics. In addition to Thomas Merton, there is Evelyn Underhill, St. John of the Cross, Esther de Waal, Kathleen Norris, Hildegard of Bingen, Annie Dillard, Bernard of Clairvaux, and St. Anthony (a Desert Father). In Miller’s newer book, The Disciplined Life, Miller again turns to the mystics. Miller also wrote The Path to Celtic Prayer (Celtic spirituality is another avenue through which contemplative is entering the evangelical church).
2. Secondly, Calvin Miller resonates with emergent teacher Marcus Borg. In Miller’s book, The Book of Jesus (2005), Marcus Borg writes an entire chapter for the book. Miller would never include an entire chapter of his own book if it was written by someone he did not resonate with. As Lighthouse Trails has revealed in past articles and books, Marcus Borg denies the tenets of the Christian faith including the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, and His atonement for sin. Roger Oakland discusses Borg in Faith Undone:
Borg explains in his book The God We Never Knew that his views on God, the Bible, and Christianity were transformed while he was in seminary:
“I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God. . . . I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority.” (p. 125)
This attitude would certainly explain how Borg could say: “Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world” (p. 125) (from p. 196, Faith Undone).
There’s no possible way that Calvin Miller could have been familiar with Borg’s writings and not been aware of his blatantly anti-Gospel stance. This is a common problem that Lighthouse Trails has had in the past and continues to have that people we are critical of tend to resonate with those who are blatant in their New Age views, but they themselves appear to be relatively benign to the larger evangelical community. (See a book review of one of Borg’s books.)
3. As we have shown above, Calvin Miller holds to contemplative persuasions. And yet, these Bibles have an article written by him within their pages. What this will do is point Bible readers to Miller and his writings and possibly even to Marcus Borg and his writings. To have Calvin Miller’s article in a Bible seems to be a terrible dichotomy: i.e., the Bible points people to the Gospel’s message of the Cross and man’s sinful state and need of a Savior while contemplative, as a movement, points people to man’s supposed divinity and diminishes the need for a Savior.
4. In view of Calvin Miller’s contemplative propensities, let’s briefly examine his article in the Holman Bibles, “Why You Should Read the King James Bible.” In the article, he lists three reasons why the KJV should be read: 1) it is the version your parents and grandparents read 2) it has literary and poetic strength and beauty, and 3) there is ease in memorizing verses in the KJV because of its “high literary resonance.” While these reasons all produce merit, the article seems to turn the KJV into more of a poetic book than the Word of God. While Lighthouse Trails is not in the category of what some call King James Only (in that that is the only version someone can get saved through), we do see it as a standard high above many of the Bible versions available today. Thus we have come to trust it more than others. We find it noteworthy of these two things: one, that emerging church figures (such as Phyllis Tickle who suggest it is a lovely book of poetic literature but not an authority in our lives and Tony Jones who minimizes the authority of the Bible as the Word of God) have done much to disregard the Bible as God’s inspired Word, and two, that the Holman Bibles include someone (Miller) who resonates with a man (Borg) who rejects the basic fundamentals of Christianity and Miller himself speaks of the poetic nature of the Bible.
Another Possible Ramification:
There are serious implications and possible ramifications regarding what is going on here. For instance, something many may not have considered: The King James Bible has no copyright on it because of its age. Bluntly put, anyone can do anything they want to that Bible and still call it the King James Bible. As an example, in some of Holman’s editions, they have changed the spelling of some words (e.g., Saviour to Savior). This might not seem like a big deal to some people, but how do we know what a particular publisher is changing and not changing? If they can change the spellings of words, they can also omit or change words and phrases. For instance, they could change or remove references to homosexuality (e.g., 1 Corinthians 6:9, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:27) or to the deity of Christ (e.g., Romans 9:5, Isaiah 40:3 – see more). While we do believe that the Lord will preserve and protect His Word, the “editing” of the Kings James Bible could become a free-for-all to emergent-leaning publishers.
Conclusion: Perhaps it would be a good idea to check inside your own Bibles and ones you are giving as gifts and make sure there are no articles written by contemplative and/or emerging authors. If any reading this feel compelled, here is the contact information for Holman Bible Publishers. If you do contact them, please ask them to remove the article by Calvin Miller in their Bible editions.
Note: Lighthouse Trails has put in two calls into Holman, but we have not yet heard back from anyone regarding this matter. Update: On the afternoon of April 8th, shortly after this article was posted, we received a phone call from someone who works at Holman Publishers. She is going to be passing this article onto the editorial department. We were told that LifeWay Resources is the parent company of B & H (Broadman & Holman).
Holman Bible Publishers
127 9th Avenue N
Nashville, TN 37234-0002