Bibliolatry – What is it?
The word "bibliolatry" is the combination of the words "Bible" and "idolatry." As such, it is defined as worship of the Bible. It is often used as an accusation that those who take the Bible literally are placing the Bible in the position of God, worshiping the Bible rather than the God of the Bible.
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However, in most cases this accusation is inaccurate. Why? The Bible itself claims to be inspired by God and even to be God-breathed. Second Timothy 3:16-17 teaches, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." As such, Scripture is an extension or revelation of God to humanity and is to be taken very seriously.
In addition, those most often accused of bibliolatry are not actually worshiping the Bible, praying to it, or offering sacrifices to it. The Bible is not an idol or god to these individuals, but rather the teachings of the one true God that have been given for study and application.
That said, some people have certainly misinterpreted or misused the Bible to "prove" things that are not in the Bible. Further, the Bible is sometimes used in opposition to other ways God operates such as prayer, the role of the Holy Spirit, and community with other believers. While the Bible is God's Word and to be taken very seriously, those committed to Scripture are also taught by Scripture to act in a variety of ways, including prayer, holy living, and service to others.
Both serious study of the Bible and serious application of the Bible are the ideal. The Bible is not God, yet is from God and has been revealed for people to come to faith in Christ and to live for Him. Without it, much of what we know about the Christian faith would be unknown. First Peter 3:15-16 even teaches, "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame."
Those who know Christ are taught to learn about God's Word in order to effectively live out its teachings and answer the questions of others. This was certainly the case in Acts 8:30-31 where Philip used Scripture to lead a person to Christ: "Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' And he said, 'How can I, unless someone guides me?' And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him." The study of God's Word allowed for conversation that led to salvation (Acts 8:35-39).
Those who make accusations of bibliolatry often do so as a personal attack rather than dealing with the actual matter at hand. If the Bible is God's revelation to humanity, it is the responsibility of Christians to know what it says and to faithfully and compassionately communicate it to others. As Romans 10:17 teaches, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."
What is the definition of idolatry?
What is meant by the sufficiency of Scripture? How is the Bible sufficient?
Should we read other books, or just the Bible?
How is the Bible inspired? What does it mean for the Bible to be inspired?
Is the Bible still relevant today?
Truth about the Bible