Monday, November 5, 2012

The Brick Testament: A Skeptics Bible?

Following my favorite childhood hobby, I have taken great pleasure in introducing my kids to Legos. Every Christmas they can depend on getting a new box. In addition to gifts, most of their own spending money also goes to support their obsession. They've been to Legoland at the American Mall and most recently Schaumburg's Legoland Discovery Center. Of course the internet has all kinds of amazing constructions. One group of Lego fanatics actually built a life size replica of a house. When I found the Brick Testament, I thought that was a pretty cool idea. The kids got all excited and we started reading through some of the Bible stories. It wasn't long till I started getting annoyed by little things. What seemed like a great illustrated Bible, turned out to be riddled with bits of sinister contempt underlining certain stories. Could it be a Bible written for skeptics? Just who is this author, “Rev” Brendan Powell Smith?

In October 2012, the Brick New Testament was featured in Time and the Huffington Post. It's now available on Amazon and becoming increasingly popular among Christians and homeschoolers. How long will it be before the local Christian bookstore picks it up? I've already seen it used as sermon illustrations. When approached about the author being a skeptic, the pastor just couldn't believe it and continued using it in his sermons. Maybe this blog will help make things clear, as long as Smith doesn't decide to remove all the evidence from his pages. Before you start your own investigation, make sure your prepared to wade through all the profanities, sarcasm and skeptical rants inundated throughout his blog.

On October 2, Smith posted in his news, “This Saturday, October 6, I will be back in the valley signing books at a Freethinker's convention. I love my job. C'mon out, meet some nice folks and get a signed book! If you can't make it to these great events, you can always order a signed copy of any of The Brick Bible books from The Brick Bible shop! Always nice to meet fans in person though.”1 I have no problem associating with nice folks who are skeptics and atheist “freethinkers”, how else are Christians suppose to reach out to them with the Gospel? But, isn't the invitation a bit odd? And, if the book is being marketed to this kind of audience, shouldn't it at least arouse some curiosity?

Commenting on one of his chapters, Smith posted a blog titled, “Abraham willing to kill own son for God”, Smith asks, “How morally vile an act would you be willing to perpetrate if you were convinced God told you to do it? Would you steal someone’s wallet? Would you punch a random stranger in the face? Would you hijack a plane and fly it into a skyscraper? Would you slit your beloved son’s throat and burn his corpse? These are the sorts of questions that the faithful must ask themselves, for one never know when they will be tested. And lest you imagine that, as in the latest set of illustrated stories at The Brick Testament website, God will always shows up at the last second to tell you it was all only a test…keep in mind that sometimes God actually wants you to go through with it.” 2

Perhaps you have read some of the praises associated with this work. Rev. Wanda Lundy, professor of Ministry Studies at New York Theological Seminary calls it, “A spectacular twenty-first century Biblical art masterpiece.” “A curiously powerful graphic novel.” - Publisher's Weekly. says, “From the pew warmer to the geek dad, this book is the perfect gift.” Can people really be so gullible? Maybe they don't really care.

Remember, as the subtitle states, “A New Spin on the Story of Jesus.” Here's Smith's commentary on his adaptation of Armageddon, “God has a plan. Our pathetic, puny human minds cannot comprehend the utter and sheer brilliance of God’s plan (and God made sure of that by only equipping us with pathetic, puny human minds), but rest assured that God does indeed most certainly have a plan. And here’s one thing we can know about God’s plan: it involves torture. Lots and lots of torture. Sure, torture is generally regarded by us comparatively dim-witted humans as the most morally vile, reprehensible, and cruel behavior possible. But this must only show our lack of intelligence, because God can’t get enough of the stuff. In our latest four illustrated stories from Revelation, God continues to pour down wave after wave of horrible torments on mankind.”3

Now I ask you, does this sound like the kind of person who believes in God? Obviously Smith doesn't think God is trustworthy. He certainly doesn't rely on exegesis and hermeneutics to aid his understanding of Biblical texts and cultural contexts; neither are of any concern or consequence to his agenda. As a matter of fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he was reading through this blog, laughing all the way: the thought of Christians using his “Bible,” he probably never even imagined it would be such a hit. His is the work of pure sarcasm. He's actually contending against Christianity, mocking the Bible. There's better works out there. If you have kids who like illustrated books, then I recommend, The Action Bible, illustrated by Sergio Cariello. Another great Bible story book that is out of print is God's Story: The Bible Told as One Story by Karen Henly.

Footnotes / Sources

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