Quietly Pursuing a Dream
About the Guest
For almost a decade, the Green family has been quietly pursuing a dream. Their dream? To build a museum in the heart of our nation's capitol that exalts and explains the profound influence of the Bible both on our national consciousness and on the history of world civilization. That dream has been realized as the doors open at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, shares the story behind the Museum of the Bible live on location at the grand opening.
Steve GreenSteve Green serves as chairman of the board of Museum of the Bible. In his role as chairman, Green has assembled a team of academics, designers, technology professionals and other experts to create the 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible, dedicated to a scholarly and engaging presentation of the Bible's impact, history and narrative. It is scheduled to open in 2017 in Washington, three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. "The Bible is the best-selling, most translated book of all time and is a...more
Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, shares the story behind the Museum of the Bible in a special live broadcast from Washington, D.C.
Quietly Pursuing a Dream
Bob: It’s interesting—two thirds of the room don’t have a translation or a translation in process.
Steve: Right; right.
Bob: And that room is going to be changing over the next 20 years.
Steve: That’s what is exciting, because there are about ten Bible societies that have come together. They have been meeting in the Dallas airport for about six years now, strategizing how to finalize the translation of the Bible into every language of the world. They have a target date, and that is the year of 2033 to have that done.
To think that something that’s never happened in the history of the world could happen in many of our lifetimes, and that is a book in every language—and there is no close second to that—it’s just exciting!
So, as a visitor comes back—if they attain the goal of having them all done by the year 2033—the visitor could come back and see that bookshelf starting to fill up with completed Bibles.
Dennis: Okay; continue on down the History Floor.
Steve: So that’s the History Floor—looking back as well as looking forward.
Then, the next floor down would be the Narrative Floor. There are people walking the streets who don’t know the Bible story at all—so we have to start from scratch. That is the essence of what we’re trying to do on that floor—is tell the Bible story. We have a New Testament theater that covers the New Testament in 11 minutes—that’s all we’ve got. [Laughter]
Dennis: Fast talker; huh?
Steve: That’s right! And then there’s “The Nazareth that Jesus Knew”—we want you to feel like you’re walking into Nazareth—an olive press, a mikvah, a synagogue, a carpenter shop. That is a place where we want you to feel like you’re walking into Nazareth. And then the Hebrew text is done in a walk-through—it’s a 40-minute, roughly-timed—walk-through. You go to a room, hear part of the story, and go to the next room as part of a group to tell the story from the Old Testament. So that’s the Narrative Floor.
And then the next floor down is the Impact. This book speaks into every area of life, and it has impacted every area of life. Again, the average person on the street has no clue of the degree to which this book has impacted their life. I don’t think any of us fully understand how this book has impacted our life—from a whole section that talks about the Bible’s influence on America—one of the most powerful, most wealthy nations on earth.
Steve: It goes to an individual life—a section—
—an “Impact in the World” section that just shows “Here are individual’s stories.” People show the Bible’s impact on them and everything in-between, from science to governments, to compassion ministries, to fashion, art, literature, music.
Dennis: There’s a great exhibit around the family, where you actually have people you can sit down at the table. It, again, is illuminated in a way where— don’t even understand how it works, Bob—[Laughter]—it shows that the Bible is influencing people, who are praying together, every day, as a family.
Bob: And I loved the exhibit that had a collection of what have become common expressions in our culture—things that we just say without thinking, like, “There’s nothing new under the sun,”—it says, “That’s from Ecclesiastes.”
Steve: That’s a great point; because even Richard Dawkins, in his book, The God Delusion—the best-selling atheist—he says that the King James Version of the Bible ought to be in our educational system simply because of being culturally literate.
Steve: And he, in his book, gives 100 examples of phrases in our vernacular that come from the King James Version of the Bible.
The thought is—you hear, regularly, a story on the news about somebody acting as a “good Samaritan.”
Steve: Well, they don’t explain the Good Samaritan story.
Steve: And if you don’t know the Good Samaritan story, you are, to a degree, illiterate in our culture, not understanding what that story means.
Steve: So that is Richard Dawkins’ point. Now, he doesn’t believe the Bible at all; but at least, he’s honest enough to say, “It ought to be a part of our education so that we can be literate in our culture.”
Dennis: Steve, you told a story, as we were walking through, about the History Floor and then the Impact Floor, and how they both are an apologetic. Just share that with our listeners.
Steve: Yes; I was in New York with a gentleman from Tyndale House, Cambridge, who was speaking—Peter Williams. He has a slide that had two missiles—he said: “There are really two ways that the Bible is attacked. One is: ‘Is it true?’—I think he used ‘accurate.’ The other is: ‘Is it good?’ There are people who say, ‘It’s just a novel that was made up,’—you know—‘It’s just not true; it’s fairy tales.’” There are those who argue that the Bible has created all the wars and is a scourge to the earth—I’ve got letters of people who have written to us saying that.
So what I came to realize is that the History Floor, to some degree, is presenting the evidence of whether it’s true or not. There is more manuscript evidence for the New Testament than for all of the major classical works combined. So, if you want to believe that it is fairy tales, then that’s your choice; but be educated on what you believe.
Steve: We never say it’s true, but what we do is present the evidence and let the visitor decide. Then, on the Impact Floor, the question of: “Is it good?”—that floor is to show that it has had an impact in practically every area of life. When we follow its principles, it has been good, whether it be in science, or in government, or art, or literature—all of these areas.
Now, yes; there have been men who have taken this book and used it for their own selfish, ill intent. The example that comes to my mind is Jim Jones, who took a bunch of people to Ghana and said, “Drink the Kool-aid.” Well, don’t blame the Bible for man’s misuse of it!
We show here that slavery was justified with the Bible, but it was the Bible that was the worldview that eradicated—not that we’ve eradicated it—but has made, illegal, slavery to a degree that no other worldview has—we show that. The point we want to make on the Impact Floor is that: “The principles of this book, when we apply it in our lives, in any area of life, it has been good.”
Dennis: The second floor is really fun!
Steve: Yes! Probably the most fun part is this fly-board ride. That—it’s really a Disney-esque ride. There’s a ride at the Disney in California called “California Dreamin’”; and in Florida, it’s called “Soarin’,” where you’re flying through the states, seeing different sights. Well, what we do is—we fly people through Washington, DC. We show where Scripture is engraved on monuments around the city. I think we go to about 11 of them; we don’t have time to go to all of them, because there are too many. [Laughter] We’ll bounce you off the Tidal Basin, and you get a little spray in your face.
Dennis: You actually have spray that comes out!
Steve: It does. As you come up to the Lincoln Memorial, where the Gettysburg Address is, we’re flying you up; and Lincoln is sitting there in the chair.
He will stand up, using computer graphics, and the background turns into the battlefield of Gettysburg—
Dennis: Oh, wow!
Steve: —and you will smell the battlefield.
Bob: Oh, wow!
Steve: It’s really a powerful ride, and the point is that Scripture is all over this city. It is foundational to this nation, and it’s been engraved on monuments throughout the years.
Bob: The museum is highly interactive. There are a number of artifacts. You can go and see fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls—typical museum displays—but what I was amazed at was the use of video throughout this museum—how many walls have living story-telling going on.
Dennis: Actually, the elevators! [Laughter] We just got on an elevator with Steve; and he said you’ve got different—you’ve got different themes.
Steve: —screens—the elevators have like TV screens on all three walls. We can put you in K4 Qumran, or the Jerusalem Chamber, or wherever we want. That will cycle through as people get on the elevators.
Bob: I loved walking in and seeing Luther in Wartburg Castle, and seeing William Tyndale coming to life in video—
Steve: Right; right.
Bob: —and telling their stories.
Steve: Well, if I put a Bible that I can’t even read under a glass case, there’s only so much of my attention it grabs; but if you knew the story of that book—
Steve: —that is what our job is—is to tell that story in an engaging way. That’s where we have engaged some of the leading design firms around the country to help tell that story—designers, who have built presidential libraries, to working with Disney. That’s what we’ve assembled to really take this book and tell its story in an engaging, creative way. I think visitors are going to love it!
Dennis: One of your favorite places on that—I believe it was the Impact Floor—
Steve: Impact; yes.
Dennis: —was the YouVersion of the Bible, to show how relevant this book is today and how it’s being read, right now, by more people than any other book on the planet.
Steve: Yes; the exhibit is called “Bible Now.”
We work with YouVersion to show where people are downloading the Bible app, right now, on their devices. The YouVersion Bible app has been downloaded over 300 million times since it started / there are people downloading the Bible app, right now, all over the world. We have a world map that will cycle through that shows people downloading it right now; and then, we can cycle a whole other world map that shows people that are opening up the app, right now, all over the world, engaging with this Bible—so that the skeptic, who comes in, who thinks, “You know, nobody is reading this book anymore!”—and a lot in our country aren’t—they will come in and they will see there are people, right now, engaging with this book. There really is not a close second to [number of] people.
Steve: And that is just one app. That doesn’t mean the printed copies and other Bible apps. That’s just one YouVersion app, which is the most downloaded Bible app; but that is just a story to tell the skeptic.
Bob: And that is real-time that you’re watching.
Steve: It’s going to be real-time!
Bob: And you can also open and find out: “What is the most-shared Bible verse in any country in the world?” “What’s the most-searched for word in any country in the world?”—
—all of that as the data is updating regularly. It’s just astounding!—it really is.
Steve: Yes; and the point is—in that space called “Bible Now”—the Bible is being engaged and sought after, right now, all over the world, which is an incredible story.
Bob: You and your wife just wrote a book to share your story of the museum and your engagement with it. It’s called This Dangerous Book.
Steve: This Dangerous Book—it just came out. We tell some of how the Bible has impacted our lives, you know, growing up. We call it a “dangerous” book; because if you follow the principles of this book, sometimes, it may take you in directions you never intended on going. [Laughter]
Steve: And so we tell some of our stories about how that—it directed our lives and our paths in ways that we may not have gone otherwise. Then, we talk about the museum—how we got involved and started with being involved in building the museum. And then, tell a little bit about the Bible’s story, itself, for somebody that may not know its story. It’s kind of those three stories, interwoven; and it’s called This Dangerous Book.
Dennis: Well, if our listeners haven’t been in the book [Bible] recently, they need to get back in it. It is dangerous, because it will change your life—it will cause you to have to die to self.
Dennis: That’s pretty dangerous. I have to ask you this question: “If you could only go to one place in this museum”—[Laughter]—and I’ve got to tell our listeners—I don’t know what your picture of this is; but whatever you’re concept of this museum is, multiply it by 100!—[Laughter]—because you’re way short! You’d miss what’s taking place here.
I’ve just asked Steve an impossible question, because this place is just filled with working engagement around the Scriptures. So I’ve given—I stalled a little bit, Steve. [Laughter] I know you already had your answer; what is it?
Steve: Well, I think the kid comes out in me, and I think I’d go to the ride—[Laughter]—loving going on that journey.
But yes; I think each one in my family would give a different answer. My kids would go to the children’s area, which we haven’t even talked about—there is a whole children’s area.
They spent a lot of time, when we were here with our family the other day—and spent a lot of time in there. My wife loves the Impact Floor, because I see it as a very—a popular floor, where it is for all people. The History Floor is probably more scholarly, though we think we will make it fun, for even for a kid—but it’s languages, translations, artifacts. And then the Narrative Floor is really for someone that, again, is a beginner; but we want it to be engaging for the scholarly as well.
I think we have something for everybody; but the fly-board ride—the “Washington Revelation,” is just a fun ride! [Laughter]
Dennis: What about you, Bob? What’s your favorite?
Bob: I’m just sitting here, trying to think about my grandkids, Rosie and Owen, who are—next summer, they going to be nine and seven. I’m trying to imagine: “If we brought Rosie and Owen to the museum, how long would they last here? Would they go two hours / three hours?” What’s your take on how long a child will—will go here, without going, “Okay; I’m ready to go see something else”?
Steve: Yes; you know, we had a family in the other day. They didn’t have a lot of time, but they were doing a dedication of space that they helped to fund—our Biblical Garden, up outside our restaurant, which serves foods of the Bible
Steve: What was fun was—it was grandparents down to a four-year-old. On each floor, we were having to say, “Okay; we’ve got to go!” And they had just started on that floor.
Steve: “We’ve got to keep moving.” So I think that, even from the adults to the kids, they could spend hours in here.
Our temporary exhibit—that we traveled around the U.S. over the last few years—the average stay was about three hours—that was about 40,000—and we have 430,000 square feet here. [Laughter] So, it could be hours.
Bob: This could be an all-day event for a family.
Steve: It could be. One study showed it would take nine 8-hour days to read everything/ watch all of the videos.
Steve: And, really, it’s unlimited; because we have a device—a digital docent—that we can load with all kinds of information. What’s nice about that, though, is—if there’s information that you want—here’s an artifact that you’re wanting more information on, but you don’t have time—you can drag information on this little digital device that we give you into a folder. When you leave, we can print it out / email it to you—you can go home and learn more about it.
We will send information with you to learn when you get home.
Bob: And what does it cost for a family to come to the museum?
Steve: It’s a suggested donation of $15, but they can come in at no cost.
Bob: That was a significant decision you guys made, less than a year ago, to say, “We’re going to open the doors for whoever wants to come.”
Steve: That’s right. We obviously have costs here; but we wanted anybody to be able to come in and learn about and, hopefully, be inspired to engage with the Bible—so it’s a suggested donation.
Dennis: I don’t know when it was, Bob, that we had Steve on our broadcast. We invited our radio listeners to become contributors, and have their names on the wall.
Bob: I haven’t seen my name on the wall, but it’s somewhere down there.
Dennis: I’ve got all of our adult children, their spouses, and my 23 grandkids.
Dennis: It cost me a lot to donate. [Laughter] But explain where that is—
Dennis: —and why that’s so important.
Steve: What we have is what we refer to as a Million Name Wall—someday, there will be 1,000,000 names on the wall. We’re at a couple hundred thousand, probably, today.
Dennis: We helped out a bunch.
Steve: That’s good—we appreciate that! [Laughter]
For any donation at all, we’ll put a person’s name on that wall. It tells, again, the skeptic something that: “This is not just a handful of people.
Dennis: Yes; yes.
Steve: “There were 1,000,000 people who came together to make this museum happen.” Then we have some walls for larger donors as well; but that, in itself, just tells a story for anybody coming in here that: “This book is loved by people all over the world.”
Bob: Well, we should just say, if a million people each gave $100, that’s $100,000,000. That doesn’t get close to what it has cost you to create this museum, much less operate it. This museum is a—I know it’s a labor of love. It was a costly venture; and it shows in the quality of what you’ve put together here.
Steve: Yes; the cost of this building, all together—the acquisition and the renovation of it, and the installation of the exhibits—was right at $500,000,000—that’s what the cost was.
The artifacts, you could argue, are priceless. That doesn’t count the artifacts, but the building itself and the renovation, was right at $500,000,000.
Dennis: Well, Steve, I just want to thank you for stepping out in faith! Would you say—well, I’ll ask you this question / my favorite question: “What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done in all your life?”
Steve: Well, I think that I would have to say, for the family, it would be the decision to challenge the government when we were told that we had to provide abortifacients to our employees at no cost.
Dennis: You’re speaking of Hobby Lobby again.
Steve: That’s right. In essence, the business was at risk.
Dennis: Right; okay. I thought this might have eclipsed—[Laughter]
Bob: This has got to be a close second!
Dennis: —stepping out!
Well, when I saw you, I’d already seen a little bit of the museum. You stepped up and began to show us more of it. I gave you a high five—so give me another one! There you go! [Laughter]
Steve: Yes; there—
Dennis: I just—I walked around, and I prayed—I said, “Lord God”—I had chill bumps—I said: “Lord God, would You use this?!
“Where this is—just two blocks off of the mall, just very near the Smithsonian Museums on the Mall—would You use this to touch the world?
Dennis: “This is a very influential city! Would You use this to bring our country back to Jesus Christ?”
In fact, would you pray that prayer right now?
Dennis: Our nation needs this! We’ve just got too much murder. Evil just seems to be taking the day. We need a spiritual awakening and renewal in our country.
Heavenly Father, we see, almost daily, and are reminded that there is evil in our world; and we need You. We need the love that You taught / that You showed when You sent Your Son to die that we might have life. I just pray that, in our world / in our nation, that You would be lifted up—that Your Word would be an opportunity, as we lift it up, to direct people toward You and the love that You have taught us to live by.
And that the divisive nature that we see, daily, in our world would go away; because we have our hearts and our minds set on You—that we desire to live our lives according to the principles that You’ve given us in Your Word.
We just pray that hearts and lives would be changed, eternally, as they embrace the good news that You sent when You sent Your Son to die that we might have life. For that, we give You praise.
Well, let me just let our listeners know—if they’d like more information about the Museum of the Bible, they can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com—we’ve got a link available there. The museum is open, as of today, so you can come in and enjoy, with your family, the next time you’re in Washington, DC; or plan a trip to Washington, DC, and come see this magnificent Museum of the Bible.
And with that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us! I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. We’re going to hear from Dennis and Barbara’s kids—over the last 25 years—things they’ve shared with us about growing up, as a Rainey, in 25 years of FamilyLife Today. It’s fun to listen back to some of their stories. 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’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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