Controversial new Dutch Bible cuts out difficult gospel passages


THE NETHERLANDS — A new Bible translation produced in Holland that aims to be more attractive and market-oriented is causing controversy after it cut out difficult parts surrounding economic justice, possessions and money.

The new Bible version, released by the Western Bible Foundation in the Netherlands, has created a storm by trying to make the Christian gospel more palatable.

Chairman W. R De Rijke said the foundation has reacted to a growing wish of many churches to be market-oriented and more attractive.

"Jesus was very inspiring for our inner health, but we don't need to take his naïve remarks about money seriously. He didn't study economics, obviously," he said.

De Rijke said no serious Christian takes these texts literally.

"What if all Christians stopped being anxious, for example, and started expecting everything from God? Or gave their possessions to the poor, for that matter. Our economy would be lost. The truth is quite the contrary: a strong economy and a healthy work ethic is a gift from God."

The foundation wanted to "boldly go where no one else has gone before" by cutting out the confusing texts, the news release said.

"We don't use them anyway! There's no single Christian selling his possessions and giving them to the poor," DeRijke added.

The Western Bible is published, so far only in Dutch, by the well-known Christian publisher Buijten & Schipperheijn. In it, some of the most important passages of the Bible: the Ten Commandments, sections of Isaiah, Proverbs, and the Sermon on the Mount, contain holes where the original translation urged radical actions around money, justice or affluence.

Hundreds of Western Bibles have been sold in the first few weeks, while anxious Christians filled newspapers and Web logs with their doubts.

But it seems there is sometimes more anger than humor among Christians.

It is published by Time to Turn, a network of Christian students and young adults in the Netherlands "who want to choose a sustainable and just way of life, based on their faith in Jesus Christ."

"They do not believe in a new legalism, or in a utopian state, but in a God who is willing to deliver the world from materialism and injustice," the release said. "Time to Turn is linked to the international student movement Speak."

Frank Mulder, chairman of Time to Turn, said he is surprised by the commotion caused by the new Bible version.

"Many Christians accept the Western lifestyle, including the degradation of creation and the injustice of our trade, and they only take the easy parts of the gospel," he said. But it isn't until we publish this gospel with holes, that they get confused!"

Time to Turn is soon to publish a companion Bible study about the holes.