The Charge of Bibliolatry

Is it true that Evangelicals tend to worship the Bible more than Jesus? This is a common accusation. It is usually leveled by those who have a very low view of Scripture, but it is an accusation that we nonetheless should think carefully about. Worshiping anything other than Jesus is a sin, it is idolatry. Worshiping the Bible, then, is idolatry (or Bibliolatry, as the term goes). So how do we know that we are not worshiping the Bible with such a high view of Scripture?

To begin answering this question we start with the premise that we cannot truly know God unless God deigns to reveal himself to us. God has done that through His Word, the Bible. So as we turn to consider what the Bible says about itself we find some pretty amazing things. John Frame gives us a peek at some of these shocking pronouncements found in the pages of Scripture. He writes:

The psalmists view the words of God with religious reverence and awe, attitudes appropriate only to an encounter with God himself. The psalmist trembles with godly fear (Ps. 119:120; cf. Isa. 66:5), stands in awe of God’s words (Ps. 119:161), and rejoices in them (v. 162). He lifts is hands to God’s commandments (v. 48). He exalts and praises not only God himself, but also his “name” (Pss. 9:2; 34:3; 68:4). He gives thanks to God’s name (Ps. 138:2). He praises God’s word in Psalm 56:4, 10. This is extraordinary, since Scripture uniformly considers it idolatrous to worship anything other than God. But to praise or fear God’s word is not idolatrous. To praise God’s word is to praise God himself. (The Doctrine of the Word of God, 67).

Frame draws our attention to the close association that Scripture itself gives us between the words of God and the person of God. That is not to say that they are the exact same thing. Frame continues:

Does this worship justify “bibliolatry”? The Bible, as we will see later, is God’s word in a finite medium.  It may be paper and ink, or parchment, or audiotape or a CD-ROM. The medium is not divine, but creaturely. We should not worship the created medium; that would be idolatry. But through the created medium, we receive the authentic word of God, and that word of God should be treasured as if God were speaking it with his own lips. It should be received with absolute trust, obedience, and, yes, worship. (67-68)

What do we make then of this charge of Bibliolatry. Is it possible that our high view of Scripture is nothing more than idolatrous worship? The Scriptures themselves attest to this association. If we regard Scripture with anything less than this kind of devotion then we are in sin. To reject this is to put ourselves in authority over defining God. Frame writes:

Opponents of evangelicalism commonly say that it is idolatrous to accept any human word as having divine authority. Scripture, however, teaches that we should accept the divine-human words on its pages precisely as God’s own. Evangelicals are often too sensitive to the charge of bibliolatry. That charge is illegitimate, and it should not motivate evangelicals to water down their view of Scripture. (68)

To love God is to love God’s Word, anything less than that is sin.

Comments

  1. ‎”To be sure, the worship of any leather-bound book would be unscriptural and idolatrous, but we have never known or heard of a single case where a Christian advocates or practices Bible worship. As far as that goes, we have known countless Christians who respect (revere) the Bible as being the inspired Word of God; now if that were a point deserving criticism and condemnation, then we would necessarily need to place the apostle Paul under such scrutiny for having said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Was Paul a Bible worshiper? We know he was not…

    ….There is an attack on the Word of God. That’s no new thing–secular humanists, New Agers, and philosophers have attacked the Bible for centuries. But this attack of which we speak comes from within the ranks of Christianity out of the halls of highly respected universities and off the presses of successful Christian publishers, and it is being carried forth by those who gain access into the hearts of men and women through their use of contemplative spirituality.”

    http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=206

Trackbacks

  1. […] Are you worshipping your Bible instead of God?  Dave Dunham addresses the charge that those who hold a high view of Scripture are committing idolatry, or Bibliolatry. […]

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