The Bible: A Story Worth Telling
About the Guest
The Bible has impacted lives throughout history. Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, talks about the logistics of building the largest Bible museum of it's kind, and the team of scholars, educators, and archaeologists needed to insure that all exhibits are authentic and accurate. "We just want to present the facts," Steve says, "and let the Bible speak for itself." The museum is set to open in the fall of 2017.
Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, talks about the logistics of building the largest Bible museum of its kind. The museum is set to open in the fall of 2017.
The Bible: A Story Worth Telling
Bob: Steve Green is a businessman who is leading the efforts to create the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. He knows his museum is going to spark some controversy.
Steve: When you deal with the Bible, you’re going to be dealing with controversy. There are people who love this Book, and there are people who hate it. There are all kinds of different opinions on it—you’re going to have critics—so we know we’re going to have that. We just want to be honest brokers of the information—we just want to present the facts and let people make their own decision. We don’t want to embellish anything / we don’t want to be negative towards it either. We just want to say: “Here’s this Book. Take a look at it. Engage with it. Learn about it.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, March 24th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from Steve Green today about his plans for an amazing museum—the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’ve already made my plans for November of 2017. Somehow, in November—
Dennis: You and I will be celebrating 25 years of FamilyLife Today.
Bob: That’s when we do have our celebration—November 9th of 2017—it will be 25 years. I think there’s no better way to celebrate than us getting away for a day or two and going up to Washington, DC.
Dennis: I’m going to be there. I don’t even know if Steve will invite me [Laughter], but I’m going to be there! I’ll be outside, knocking on the door, saying, “Steve, let me in!” [Laughter] Well, who I’m talking about is Steve Green, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Hobby Lobby®. He is giving leadership, as the Chairman of the Board, of the Museum of the Bible.
We’re talking about how you, as a listener, can get involved in this. You could join us, I guess, in November 2017. This won’t be the last time we talk about it.
Bob: No; this is under construction currently. This is a project that you’ve been at work on for more than five years, Steve.
Just because some of our listeners might feel this way—our engineer pulled us aside and said, “I’ve got to be honest—
Dennis: Well, let him tell.
Bob: Should we let him punch in?
Dennis: Let him tell.
Keith: No; don’t let Keith tell. You tell it so much better, Bob. [Laughter]
Bob: Keith, the engineer, just punched in here.
Dennis: Everybody knows Keith Lynch—everybody knows him.
Bob: Keith, what did you think when you heard that we were going to be doing a radio interview about the Museum of the Bible?
Dennis: —and you were going to hear Steve Green make a presentation to our staff? Tell them what you really, really thought.
Keith: I was a little skeptical.
Bob: That’s mild; okay? [Laughter] Keith was afraid—and, Steve, you know this—Keith was afraid, and there are other people who are afraid—that this is going to just be second-class.
Bob: Okay; now he’s getting honest; right—throwing in a little—“Cheesy” was the word you used.
Bob: Yes. You’ve heard people talk about this before. Part of your design for the Museum of the Bible is to make sure that, no matter who it is—somebody walks in the front door of this building, they’re going to be impressed with what they see.
Steve: Well, when I think about the other museums there in DC, there are a lot of great museums; but none of them have the material that we have. [Laughter]
Dennis: You think?!
Steve: We have a book that has changed our world!
Bob: Yes. “Dinosaur bones are cool, but—
Steve: —“but this book has changed our world.” It’s not a lack of material—it’s a matter of how well we present it. We are looking at engaging some of the leading design firms in the country to really tell that story in an incredible way.
Bob: And in addition to designers, you’ve got scholars.
You’ve got people from major universities and people—who may not share your perspective on the Bible / who may not share your faith tradition—they’re just excited about the archaeology, or about the history, or about all of this. They’re unpacking it. This is something that any legitimate scholar can come at and say, “These guys have done their homework and done it right.”
Steve: The collection had items that needed further study. What we looked at—is we needed to find the leading scholars that were knowledgeable to be able to do the research and publication of these items. They don’t bring their biases, pro or con. They’re just giving us good research / good evidence. That’s what we’re looking for because we want scholarly credibility in all that we do. We’re not afraid of looking under every rock to see what we can find.
Dennis: And we might say some other religions are afraid of what’s under the rock.
Steve: Yes; that’s right. There are some that don’t want to look—they’re not inviting textual criticism because it doesn’t look pretty in some cases.
Dennis: Yes; but the Bible does stand on its own because God did, indeed, author it.
It has survived a lot of abuse, a lot of misuse, and a lot of misapplication. Okay; let’s admit it: “We, as human beings, have fouled it up”; but it doesn’t change the fact that the Bible is the inerrant, God-breathed Word of Almighty God.
Bob: Yes. We’re talking with Steve Green, who is heading up the Museum of the Bible project. You’ve got almost a hundred people working, full time, on this project. Construction is already underway.
Steve: There are probably 300 people on-site today that are working on that. At the peak, there will be about 500 people on the site. We started towards the end of 2014 on the site, doing a lot of demolition. We are actually doing construction—we’re coming back out of the ground. We’re remodeling a building that we designated historical. There’s an addition to that building that we tore all the way down, and then there’s a building adjacent that we’ll be building a floor on top of it that will be connected.
Dennis: And the location is?
Steve: The location is two blocks south of the Air and Space Museum—300 D Street—right at a Metro stop is the block where the museum will be. It is one of the most complex construction projects for Clark Construction, who is doing the construction work for us—is one of the largest in the country. They’re doing the African American Museum and built several other projects there in DC—a great company doing a great job. A lot of work is being done, every day on-site, with a goal of November 2017 to open.
Bob: And you know that—in spite of all of the work that you’re doing to be accurate on a scholarly level / to really handle this well—you know that there will be critics. You know there’ll be folks who are going to talk about why the Museum of the Bible is flawed and why it’s misrepresenting things. You’re prepared for that; right?
Steve: We are. When you deal with the Bible, you’re going to be dealing with controversy. There are people who love this book, and there are people who hate it. There are all kinds of different opinions on it. You do something about this Bible—you make a movie / whatever you want to do—you are going to have critics. We know we’re going to have that. We just want to be honest brokers of the information—we just want to present the facts and let people make their own decision. That’s why we’re looking for leading scholars. We don’t want to embellish anything / we don’t want to be negative towards it either. We just want to say: “Here’s this book. Take a look at it. Engage with it. Learn about it.”
We are probably more ignorant of this book, in our nation, than we ever have been because we don’t teach it in our schools as we once did. We just think that people ought to know it, and we invite them to read it.
Dennis: In fact, you quoted a very famous person when you spoke with our staff recently around how the Bible needs to be taught in our schools as—
Steve: Literary culture was the reason.
Dennis: Yes; I was trying to grab the words.
Dennis: Literary culture. Explain what he said, and then tell them who said it.
Steve: It was a quote from a book; and he says it ought to be part of our education because of its “literary culture.” After he makes this statement, he gives over 100 examples of phrases in our language that come from the King James Bible. That’s specifically the version he is suggesting—phrases like “an eye for an eye,” “a tooth for a tooth,” “the writing on the wall,” “the Good Samaritan.” He lists over 100 examples.
The person who wrote that was Richard Dawkins. He is a leading atheist, arguing that there is no God. The book is called The God Delusion. His description of the God of the Bible is quite ruthless; but he’s, at least, honest enough to know that for us to be literate in our culture, we need to know some of those because so much of our language comes from that book.
He is right. We ought to know this book. For us to be literate, we do need to know it. I was listening to a news story, and it talked about a person acting as a “good Samaritan.” We hear about those from time to time. Well, they typically aren’t telling you the Good Samaritan story.
Steve: If you don’t know the Good Samaritan story, you just lost the context for that news article—that’s the point that Richard Dawkins makes.
Dennis: You did some research about what Americans understand about the sacrifices people have made as a result of reading the Bible and found that 48 percent of those surveyed were aware that people have sacrificed so that we can have a copy of the Bible. Most people didn’t know that. You’re going to tell the story of how we came to obtain our copies of the Bible. It’s not always been so; has it?
Steve: We have a traveling exhibit in Santa Clarita, California, today. In there, we have an animatronic of William Tyndale being tied to the stake. He was strangled to death and then burned at the stake because of his effort to bring the Bible to the common people—that was not looked upon well.
There are people, throughout history, who have given their life so that we might have this book.
This book has created a lot of love and hate—that, in itself, would be a question: “Why? What is it about this book? Maybe we ought to know a little bit more about it.” So, again, we invite all people to engage with it.
Bob: This is entirely privately funded; right?
Steve: It is.
Bob: No government money.
Steve: No government funds; no.
Bob: And there will be an admission charge?
Steve: We will have an admission charge—it will be very reasonable. That will be the way that it will sustain itself, going forward.
Bob: You want as many people as possible to come to the museum so it’s really just about sustaining the work of the museum—not about trying to turn a profit for anything.
Steve: Right. There obviously is a cost—staff and all of that that has to be maintained—we want that. The other thing about Washington, DC, is that I understand that maybe about 30 percent of the visitors to the DC area are international. Not only is this going to be able to show this book to people in America, but people from all over the world are coming into DC. We’re able to share this book’s story with people from all over the world.
Bob: And you don’t get to a last room on your tour of the museum, where they sit you in a theater, and Billy Graham comes on and shares the gospel; right?
Steve: That’s right. This is not about proselytizing / it’s not about espousing of faith. This is about presenting the facts. The example I use is that the Bible tells us that: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,”—that’s part of its Bible story. We ought to be able to say, “Here’s what the Bible story is.” I can never cross the line and say, “When God created…” because that then is making a statement of faith as facts.
Hebrews, Chapter 11, tells us that we understand that by faith—that is a faith proposition. The Bible is honest, and it tells us that it’s a faith proposition; so we’re not about making faith statements as fact. We’re just here, telling the facts. One of those facts is—the Bible says: “In the beginning, God created…” We want to say that; but we can’t cross that line, saying that, “That is true.”
Dennis: But Steve, some people are going to hear you say that and are going to say: “Oh! You’re missing an opportunity! You can turn the museum into a giant evangelistic crusade every day as tens of thousands of people go through there.” And to that—you say?
Steve: To that—I say that we are looking to have people that are not wanting to have my faith shoved down their throat to feel welcome and not threatened—those that would never step foot into a church—to come here, and just hear the facts, and make their own choice.
Dennis: And the reason you’re willing to approach it that way is because you believe the book is what it says it is: “It’s alive.”
Dennis: It is alive! It will change people’s lives.
Steve: Yes. This book—which makes that claim—if it is what it claims to be, I don’t have to worry about crossing that line because it will take care of itself. It stands on its own and doesn’t need my help.
Bob: Now, I’ve already mentioned that Dennis and I are investors in the museum. You’ve got this wall that’s going to have one million names on it.
Dennis: Bob’s wanting his name bigger! [Laughter]
Bob: Not bigger; but I would like—I’m wondering if I could have my name at about 5’10” off the ground.
Steve: Eye level. [Laughter]
Bob: I’d like to position it, if I could. If I give a little more than $20, can we talk? [Laughter]
Steve: We can talk! [Laughter]
Dennis: Actually, Bob and Mary Ann both have decided to put their names on the wall. He doubled down yesterday, here on FamilyLife Today,and said: “What about you, Dennis? Are you and Barbara in on this?” Yes, we’re in on it—so is our Executive Leadership Team, here at FamilyLife, and the Board of Directors of FamilyLife—they’re all in this thing. The idea is—if you can give $20 or more—it’s basically calling those who believe the book is what it is to join and be a part of something that, when people walk into the museum, they’re going to immediately be confronted with the fact that there are one million people who care about this book—at least, a million!
Steve: That is a story in itself—
—to imagine that people walk in there / and seeing one million people[‘s names]. That may, very well, speak to them. Again, how many people think it’s just a dusty old book for yesterday? Yet, here are one million people today, who are saying, “This is a book that is important and, hopefully, would encourage and inspire somebody to get to know it a little bit more.”
Steve: The whole idea that there are going to be Catholic, and Jewish, and Protestant support for this book / for this museum because of their support for the book tells a story. You know, we probably hear more about our differences and our fighting than we do our unity. Yet, here is a place that we can, for a time, set our differences aside and come together and say: “Here’s what we agree upon. This book is a book that we ought to know better than we do today.”
Bob: “We dunk / you sprinkle, but we both believe the Bible is—is the Bible”; right?
Bob: And, Steve—I did the math. Help me here if I’m off on this, but if one million people all gave $20 each, that’s $20 million.
That’s about 4 percent of what it’s going to cost you to build the Museum of the Bible. Nobody’s getting rich building this. In fact, a lof of people are pouring money into this as a labor of love and faith; right?
Steve: Yes; it will take more than the one million $20-donors. It’s going to take a lot of people who are willing to give millions of dollars. We’re out, and we have been sharing. Over about a 13-month period, we had 79 events, where we’re sharing our story with people—have had tremendous response—people are just kind of blown away, thinking, “I had no idea!” We’re excited about seeing large donors come to the table and give significant amounts, as well as large numbers of people giving what they can give.
Bob: But it sounds to me like this is going to happen one way or another. I mean, you’re not sitting here, going, “We could get it half-built and run out of money.”
Dennis: Yes—and not have any electricity in it.
Steve: Yes. We are really looking at raising about $1billion because the museum is a piece of it. There are other initiatives that we have going on—we’re looking at doing further research at an archaeological site, we want to send kids to Israel, we’re doing a curriculum / we would like to see that in nations all over the world. For a five-year project, we feel like there is about $1billion we are looking at raising. Now, if all we get is $5 hundred million, we can build a museum; but we are excited about doing so much more than that.
Bob: Your vision is bigger than that. I would invite our listeners to go to FamilyLifeToday.com if they’d like to get more information. We’ve got a link to your website. We’ve got a lot of listeners—
—I’m guessing we could get some folks, who’d say: “Twenty bucks to have my name on the wall of that? Yes! I’d love to have my name on the wall.”
Dennis: Especially if it’s calling our nation back to the Book!
Dennis: I mean, I was listening to you speak to our staff and I thought, “This is an idea whose time has come.” Our nation is desperate for standards / for boundaries—for God to speak. He has, and He’s put it between two covers—it’s the best-selling book in the history of the world. You’re just calling people together to come celebrate the book and celebrate its impact.
I frankly love the “impact floor” because you’re going to show its impact on dozens of different ways that the Bible is still impacting our world: education, music, medicine—
Steve: —government, the arts, literature—just about every area of life—science. Many of the sciences were birthed out of great scientists, who had a biblical worldview.
That was the inspiration for them to do the study within the sciences. In just about every area of life, this book has impacted our world; and we want people to understand that.
One example—for us to be ignorant of this book is to be ignorant of the church because its role is to teach it; but it’s also to be ignorant of our state, because it’s built on principles found in it. The fact that our Founders said, “All men are created equal…” Where did they get that concept? There are two biblical concepts in that statement alone. The fact that we’re created is a biblical concept.
Steve: The idea that we’re created equal is a biblical concept. That’s where the Founders got that. For us to be ignorant of this book is to be ignorant of the foundation of the nation and the principles our nation was built upon.
Bob: In fact, tell listeners about the ride inside the museum. [Laughter]
Dennis: That’s what Bob’s going to go do first!
Bob: That’s what I’m coming in November for—to go on the ride. Tell them about this!
Steve: Yes; we have—the president of our organization is Cary Summers, who came out of the entertainment industry. He was head of Herschend Entertainment, Silver Dollar City, and 20 theme parks around the country.
He talked about how we were looking to put a roller coaster in there, but it just wouldn’t fit.
Steve: So we have this ride—where you are actually standing—and you get the sensation of flying through DC. You have this big screen, and you are flying through DC. What we’re doing is—we’re showing you, throughout DC, where Scripture is engraved on monuments throughout the city. We can’t go to all of them because there are too many of them.
Steve: But we hit some of the highlights, and hopefully, inspire people to go out and find them themselves. It’s a ride that makes you feel like you’re riding through DC.
Bob: And it makes the point, at the same time, that the founding of this nation—the Bible was seen as an authoritative book / a book that speaks truth to all time.
Steve: Yes. It’s inscribed all over that city. It was taught in our schools for most of our history. It’s still legal today; but it has, for the most part, been thrown out. We are probably more ignorant of this book than ever, and our desire is just to educate people on this book and cause them to go take a look at it.
Dennis: You reminded me, when you said that, about Chuck Colson. He knew that the Bible had been declared illegal, or not taught, in public schools. When he started a prison ministry, he made sure every prisoner had a Bible.
Steve: And, you know—I understand that I don’t want my child going to a public school, being proselytized by some other faith—so I can’t do that either. That helps me understand certain lines that I can’t cross, and I don’t want to cross. I just want people to know the facts. I ought to be able to do that, and I have no problem with any other faith doing that with their book: “You show us what is your history—tell us your impact, and tell us what your story is.”
Steve: That’s what we want to do with this book. This book should be taught before any of those others because it is foundational to our government / because it has impacted our world. Let’s, at least, start there—not proselytizing / just sharing the facts.
Dennis: Well, I want to encourage our listeners to pray for Steve and the Green family, and ask for God’s favor on this project. Pray that the opening of this would be welcomed throughout the United States in a very, very special way—that God’s favor would be upon this in a special way and this might be a turning point in our country, back toward the soul worshiping who made it. People should get back in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Bob: Well, again, we’d encourage listeners to go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and click the link that they find there to the Museum of the Bible website. Spend some time looking around. The website is impressive. I mean, it’s cool to see what is under construction, right now, in Washington, DC. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com—that’s our website—and click on the link for the Museum of the Bible. Find out more about what’s going to be opening in Washington, DC, in the fall of next year.
Dennis: Steve—thanks for being with us. I hope you’ll come back and give us an update, along the way here, as we move toward the grand opening in November 2017.
Bob: And bring some Hobby Lobby coupons next time you come.
Steve: Okay! [Laughter]
Dennis: He doesn’t have any, Bob!
Bob: Well, I’m not asking for myself—I was going to send them to Horace and Celia Hudson because they are celebrating their 27th anniversary tomorrow. They live in Miami, Florida—they got married back in 1989. We just wanted to say, “Happy Anniversary!” I thought some coupons for Hobby Lobby would be a lovely anniversary gift. I think the 27th anniversary is the “Hobby Lobby anniversary.” So I thought it would be nice for them to have some coupons.
We are the Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries, here at FamilyLife. We exist so that more couples will celebrate more anniversaries, and there’ll be more celebrating going on every year. We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary this year, but we really want the focus to be on folks, like you / folks like the Hudsons in Miami. They’ve been to three Weekend to Remember®s throughout their marriage.
By the way, we’ve got some ideas on how your anniversary celebration this year can be special. We will start sending those to you the month before your anniversary arrives, but we have to know your anniversary to be able to do that. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and let us know what your anniversary date is; or call and let us know—1-800-FL-TODAY is our number.
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Now, tomorrow, we’re going to turn our attention to the suffering and death of Jesus, and spend time reflecting on what it is we can learn from the fact that He, indeed, suffered on our behalf. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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