I had opportunity to look at the APB once in a bookstore. Its hard to describe how it made me feel. I am Christian and a biblical scholar so the Bible is important to me. I am also an American who is not only thankful for my country but proud of it. But combining the two between a book cover does not sit well with me.
I can't remember what all I saw as I flipped through the APB. But one image in the APB that has stayed with me is that of Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima, which the editors placed at the opening to the four Gospels. What does Iwo Jima have to do with Jesus? I am not sure how to even connect the two.
I realize that the Bible has had a lot of influence in American history. Our founding documents, some of our laws, the cornerstones of our government buildings, and the speeches given by our leaders have often reflected the Bible's influence on our society. Some of it, however, has also been very negative. A couple years back I wrote a chapter on how the Bible was used to keep African-Americans enslaved in this country. I can't remember if this part of the Bible's influence in American history was represented in the APB, but I doubt it.
I suppose my biggest objection is that the APB takes the final step towards "Americanizing" the Bible. Too often Americans read the Bible with little to any concept that it was NOT written with us in mind. We read the Bible as if the writers or even God was speaking about or to America (I realize that last sentence will open the proverbial can of worms). I do think that the Bible can speak to modern people all over the world, not just Americans. But we cannot (or at lest should not) read it in such a way that we exclude other peoples, that is, the rest of God's creation.
Americans have been interpreting their own history into the Bible for centuries. Some of the earliest New England settlers were quite good at it. But my fear is that once we have completely Americanized the Bible we neuter its ability to speak to us prophetically. I don't mean that it will tell us the future. Rather, if we really do value the Bible as we say, then Americanizing makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to use it be critical of ourselves. In the end the Bible will no longer be "God's word to us" but "God's word about us."
I am interested to hear what others have to say. Am I off base here? Am I missing something?