CSB Worldview Bible

Book Review/Rant: Worldview Study Bible (CSB)

From the Mishnah to The Message, as long as there have been sacred Scriptures, there have been scholars with opinions about how the stories should be translated, interpreted, and applied to communal life.

For centuries the Holy Scriptures were kept wholly separate from editorial opinions and scribal annotations; however, in the Middle Ages, copyists commenced recording comments in the margins. And when the Geneva Bible was published in 1560, for the first time, non-authoritative opinions and insights were included within the pages of the published text.

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

Fast-forward to 2018, and you’ll find designer study Bibles with notes from the Christian celebrity-of-the-moment (e.g.,  Duck Commander Faith & Family Bible) to notes from popular Christian authors based on their best-selling books (e.g., Every Man’s Bible ) or TV ministries (e.g., The David Jeremiah Study Bible).

Some study Bibles contain notes that focus on understanding the historical-cultural context of Scripture passages and often include detailed maps and charts  (e.g., NIV Study Bible), whereas others promote everything from denominational doctrines to dating advice. Seriously. (Ligioner Ministries provides a wonderful overview of “The History of Study Bibles, if you’d like to nerd out a bit.)

So, when a publisher decides to add yet another study Bible to the menu, I have to wonder why: What makes this study Bible different than the others? I’ll answer that below. (Hint: It’s a doozy!)

The CSB Worldview Study Bible

In early 2018, Holman Bible Publishers released the Worldview Study Bible in their  Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation (read my review of the CSB here). I’ve been using this Bible for a number of months now, and decided it’s finally time to write my review.

External Appearance

The presentation of the CSB Worldview Study Bible is very classy. The soft-cover editions come in a full-color gift box; the cover on hardback editions is the same design as the box.CSB Worldview Study BibleThe Bible softcover edition is smooth to the touch, the pages are gilded in silver foil, and the binding is Smyth-sewn which means it will lay flat when you open it. Standard features include: a presentation page, two ribbon markers, a concordance, and full-color maps.

Page Layout & Content Organization

The Biblical text is divided into two columns per page with a center column of cross references, and the study notes are gathered at the bottom of the page. 

Worldview Study Bible
🔎 Click to enlarge (Typical page layout)

The worldview articles are easily identifiable having been set in a different font on a slightly shaded background with no cross-references in the middle of the page. Articles were placed in close proximity to passages which touch on similar topics.

CSB Worldview Study Bible

🔎 Click to enlarge (List of “Additional Features” — this is not all of them)

Each book of the Bible opens with a brief introduction, an overview of historical circumstances (author/date/background), the book’s unique contribution to the Bible (purpose), and an overview of its internal structure. This basic background information is supplemented with a unique section entitled “Christian Worldview Elements” which highlights that particular author’s teachings about God, Humanity, and Salvation. 

CSB Worldview Study Bible
🔎 Click to enlarge (Standard format of book introductions)

A graphical timeline is provided at the bottom of the page showing when the lives of main characters overlap with famous rulers, battles, and notable weather events including eclipses and blood moons.

Sounds great, right? It is. Obviously, or they wouldn’t have published it. There’s just one problem, and it is hidden in plain sight in the Preface.

Please note: ALL quotations from the Worldview Study Bible were excerpted from its 1-1/2 page preface.

Problems with the Preface

Based on the foundational assumption that “there is a great spiritual battle raging for the hearts and minds of men and women,” the preface for the CSB Worldview Study Bible alerts the reader to the real reason this study Bible was created: To tell the reader how true Christians should think about current social and moral issues, and how they should conduct themselves in the world. There is no room for discussion. The goal is conformity.

Don't ask hard questions

The assumptions of the editors are clearly outlined in the preface:

  • There is only one way of interacting with the world that can be classified as Christian.
  • It’s our duty as Christians to defend the Christian worldview.
  • Thinking about how one’s Christian faith should affect various aspects of real life is hard work—too difficult for most Christians.
  • We, the experts, will teach you how a true Christian should think, feel, and act in any given situation.
  • Questioning the Bible and/or the articles presented within this resource is dangerous,  and those thoughts should be “taken captive unto Jesus Christ.”

We’ll Do the Thinking for You

The decision to place 130+ articles defining “the” Christian worldview within Scripture—not between books or at the end of testaments—but in close proximity to related passages was strategic.

CSB Worldview Study Bible
🔎 Click to enlarge (Position papers strategically inserted)

The editors and publisher are banking on the reader’s cognitive bias: The assumption is that if readers accept the Bible as authoritative, they will give more credence to the articles contained therein.

Causes for Pauses

The premise combined with the strategic placement of position papers next to key passages should cause every reader to pause and wonder whether or not a “study” Bible like this should even exist. 

🤚 Cause-for-Pause #1: Repeated admonitions to take every divergent thought captive.

Three times in the 1-1/2 page preface to the CSB Worldview Study Bible, the reader is admonished to “take every thought captive to Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). It is clear that the editors are suggesting the reader ignore (and repent of?) every thought that questions something stated in Scripture and/or their interpretation of it. This is a gross misuse of 2 Cor. 10:5. (Oops! I meant to take that thought captive.)

🤚 Cause-for-Pause #2: The false assumption that Christians can’t think for themselves.

“Christians often find it difficult to think carefully and coherently about how the Christian faith affects all aspects of life.” Um. We do? I didn’t realize that, but maybe I wasn’t thinking carefully enough.

🤚 Cause-for-Pause #3: The purpose to teach readers “to think Christianly about life and about the world.”

The editors explain: “This study Bible is intended to help Christians make progress in developing a Christian worldview that will help them learn to think in a Christian manner and to live out the truth of the Christian faith…A Christian worldview is not just one’s personal faith expression, not just a theory; it is an all-encompassing way of life, applicable to all spheres of life….We pray that the CSB Worldview Study Bible will serve Christians well, enabling them to see life from a Christian vantage point, thinking with the mind of Christ.”

“We’re Just Here to Help”

Let me sum up what they are saying: The CSB Worldview Study Bible was created to help Christians—who supposedly find it difficult to think carefully and coherently about the Christian life—know what to believe and how to act “Christianly” in the world.

Sheep

Here are just a few of the position papers interspersed throughout the Scriptures—each of which was written to answer the “good” questions (since the “baa-d” ones should be taken captive):

  • Christian Perspectives on Children’s Education
  • Animal Rights
  • Creation: Why an Old Earth View is Defensible
  • Creation: A Young Earth Perspective
  • Christian Higher Education
  • Career and Home Life
  • Capitalism and a Christian Worldview
  • Is Gender a Choice?
  • Engaging LGBT Advocates
  • A Biblical View of {Psychology and Psychiatry, History, Music, Art, Recreation, Marriage, Child Rearing, Work, Retirement, etc.}
  • Personal Finances
  • Gender Equality and Church History
  • Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Secularism
  • A Biblical Assessment of Abortion
  • Christian Worldview and Same-Sex Marriage
  • The Bible and Intellectual Pursuit
  • Equality of Sexes
  • And much, much more…

I don’t know about you, but I’m concerned that these articles were written under the false assumption that when I read and study the Bible on my own, I am unable to think “carefully” or “critically” about its impact on my life. The underlying assumption is that if my conclusions about how to live out my faith differ from those presented in the Worldview Study Bible, then I must not thinking “Christianly.”

Not only is this arrogant, it is ignorant. 

So, let’s get down to the root of my issues with this study Bible, shall we? Also, if you’re still reading, here’s a cookie. ❤😁

Cookie

Setting the Record Straight

Jesus embraced diversity. He advocated for the marginalized and outcast, ate with the sinners, touched the untouchable, elevated the women in His presence, and He never shamed a single person. He was compassionate towards everyone except those who were trying to profit at the Temple and certain religious leaders who were enforcing the letter of the Law with little regard to the spirit of the Law. 

Luke 11:37-53 records some of the harshest words Jesus ever uttered. Here are a few selections (click here to read the entire passage in context): 

“You…clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”

and

“Woe to you…because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”

and

“You experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”

and

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

Jesus had zero interest in groupthink or legalism. He was passionate about helping people explore their own thoughts based on their own experiences which is why He almost always answered a question with another question. He wanted people to think for themselves and to follow His example: Love God. Love people. 

LOVE

Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

Jesus did not say, “They will know you are my disciples because you all believe the exact same things and approach life from the exact same perspective.”

Nope. He absolutely did not say that. 

I honestly believe that with the help of the Holy Spirit and the big brain God gave you, YOU can think through complex issues on your own. You can research and discuss issues from all sides. You can study the life of Jesus. And you can come up with your own conclusions which may or may not match those in the Worldview Study Bible. The Christian worldview cannot be defined by one strand of one denomination.

In conclusion, I do not recommend the Worldview Study Bible to anyone except the Christian who finds it too much of a bother to think carefully and coherently about how integrate their faith with their daily life. If you’d prefer to be told what to believe and how to act, then you’ve found the right resource.

Everyone else would benefit much more from a study Bible like the NIV Study Bible which provides accurate historical and cultural backgrounds, detailed maps, charts, numerous footnotes, an excellent concordance, and leaves room for the Holy Spirit to enlighten the mind, convict the heart, and empower spiritual growth.

When it all comes down, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all Christian worldview.

Full stop. 

Questions for further reflection:

  • Why place an article explaining how a Christian should relate to a person who identifies as LGBT within the pages of Scripture?
  • Why place an article about abortion within the pages of Scripture?
  • Why place an article about leadership roles within the pages of Scripture?
  • Why not gather all these articles into a separate book on how to live the Christian life and publish it as a companion to the Bible?

ALL quotations from the Worldview Study Bible were excerpted from its 1-1/2 page preface.

Photo credits:
Face painted black and white: Photo by Ricardo Mancía on Unsplash
Sheep: Photo by Judith Prins on Unsplash
Cookie: Photo by Tim Wright on Unsplash
Love: Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Facebook Comments

About the author: Laura Zielke

Laura Zielke (ZELL-key) is a deep thinker and Bible scholar. She is not afraid to question tradition and challenges people to evaluate their beliefs according to the Scriptures. Laura earned her M-Div. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis on Biblical Studies, Archaeology, and Languages. She has been blessed to serve as a lay leader in local churches for more than thirty years. Having been recognized as an outstanding leader, teacher, and entrepreneur, Laura serves as the Community Manager for the Nonprofit Leadership Lab (an organization dedicated to helping nonprofit leaders worldwide accomplish their mission). She and her husband of 22 years have one son who is in the 11th grade and homeschooled. Laura is an INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator and 1w9 on the Enneagram. She enjoys helping people discover more about themselves, the Lord, and their purpose in life. Connect with her on social media: @thezwomann (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.