As my wife and I walked around an exhibition building at the Minnesota State Fair yesterday, we cruised around a corner and saw a display of Christian music CDs, books, pictures; and right in the middle a pedestal with an open Bible on top, a number of Bibles along the sides below, and a sign that said, “Automatic Bible – Ask for demo”. Well, you know me, I had to take a look. What on earth is an automatic Bible? It looked pretty normal to me.
I had no sooner walked over and took a quick look at it when this silver-haired fellow walks over and starts his big spiel. He wanted to know if I knew where to find the Trinity in the Bible. I started to say it’s a concept, and the word itself isn’t in there, but he opened to the 300+ page topical index and showed me, “Here’s every place in the Bible that it talks about the Trinity. Now how about the Rapture?” I said, “Well, the word itself isn’t in there, but…” and he had to show me the list of everyplace in the Bible where it talks about the Rapture. And he launches into a spiel about how people read their NIVs and other newer translations, thinking they’re reading the “real” Bible but those Bibles have thousands of words, phrases, and even whole verses left out of them, but the Automatic Bible has everything!
I thought to myself, “Huh? Is this a King James? No, it doesn’t look like a King James. But this guy sounds like a KJV-Only.” I took a hold of the Bible, which at this time was laying flat as he had put it down, and turned it to see the spine. It said NKJV. I said, “Ah, it’s the NKJV.” He said, “Yes, the NKJV, same as the KJV but without all the Thees and Thous. It’s easier for most people to understand.” Then he had to tell me how the late D. James Kennedy had all these Bibles printed up “ten years ago” to give to friends of his ministry, and “when Kennedy died, these Bibles were forgotten.” He said he got in touch with the publisher, and bought up the entire stock, all 400 Bibles that were left. I asked how much he wanted for one, and he said he is selling them for “…just $99 apiece. They’re all this beautiful navy blue leather with silver page edging, you won’t find a nicer Bible for the price! Back in the 1920s they sold these for $33, and if we sold them for the same price today, considering inflation, they’d cost $1800 apiece! — and you know how denominations came about? It happened because someone used his own interpretation of the Bible and preached about it, and the people just accepted it without going and checking it out for themselves. People don’t have the knowledge, or just don’t want to bother checking it out, because it’s too difficult, and there are differences in the different Bible versions, but with this Bible it’s all right here, in this 300+ page index. All you have to do is look it up in the index and it will tell you where to find it in the Bible, everywhere the Bible talks about that topic!”
By this time my wife is wandering away. She sees how uncomfortable I am getting with this guy, that I’d just like to walk away. But I’m too Minnesota Nice, I guess; I couldn’t just walk away, that would be rude. So I listened politely, looking for a way to cut off the discussion, because this guy was obviously not somebody I wanted to talk to, argue with, or buy a Bible from. He was a “By-God fast-talking snake-oil salesman”, so said the “Paul Ford Mayor of River City” voice in my head.
Finally I saw the right opening, and I thanked him for the demonstration and told him I’d have to think about it for a while. He urged me to decide yet that day, because when the State Fair was over he’d be gone, and I wouldn’t be able to get it after that.
And we finally walked away.
My wife said, “Maybe you should have offered him $50, and see what he’d say to that.” She could tell I was impressed with the Bible, just not with the salesman. It turns out it’s a good thing I didn’t do that, because I discovered a few things this morning. The Bibles were printed in 2008, not ten years ago like he said. They ARE out of print, and are no longer available, except for this guy. But Christianbook.com was selling them for about $26. And they’re blue bonded leather, not genuine leather.
So the guy’s a huckster. He’s a flim-flam artist. He comes off as a Christian. He’s obviously quite knowledgeable about his product (though he’s not particularly truthful about it). I was surprised to see someone trying to sell NKJV Bibles using KJVO arguments. That’s a first! My wife asked him if he’s a minister, to which he replied that the Bible says we’re not to call anyone on earth our father, or leader, or teacher, but that we’re all just disciples.
I’ve never seen anybody sell Bibles like this. It was a hard sell (and I wasn’t sold!) I don’t know how many of those Bibles he sells; and it is a very nice Bible that I think many people would find valuable. But not for almost a hundred dollars! This guy is passing himself off as a Christian; maybe he is a believer, but I think he should be ashamed of himself!
I found a picture on Flickr of this guy when I did a Google search for “Automatic Bible”. You can see it at this link: http://flic.kr/p/2DB62A Keep an eye out for him if you go to a fair and find a display of Christian music and Bibles.