What is Bibliolatry?
There is a belief that is becoming very prevalent in the Church today known as Bibliolatry. It is the idea that many Christians are spending too much time in God’s Word. It is the thought that a large number of evangelicals today actually hold a higher view of Scripture than they do of God. But is this the case? Do Christians really struggle with worshiping the Bible rather than God?
The Simple Answer
No. I would argue that there is no such thing as bibliolatry. If the Church today is struggling with anything, it is not being in God’s Word enough. Think about it. How often do we really spend reading and studying the Bible? The average Christian today spends roughly about two hours a week learning from the Bible. That is about 1% of our time. Yet, the average person spends more than five hours a day watching television. Thus, to say that evangelicals today suffer from Bibliolatry is a major miscalculation.
Where Did it Come From?
The text that supporters of this belief will use is John 5:39. Within this passage, Jesus confronts the Jews by stating that they search the Scriptures thinking that in them they have eternal life. The problem with this interpretation is that bibliolatry is not the point of the passage.
The context is regarding the Law, specifically that of the Sabbath. At the beginning of chapter five, Jesus healed a man on the sacred day of rest. This was a big no-no in their mind! Yet, Jesus did it because He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-8). As the Son of God, He has the authority to determine what is and what is not acceptable on the Sabbath day. Nevertheless, the point that Jesus was making was that these religious leaders cared more about regulations than they did about actual people.
Why is it Here?
So why do many Christians believe this is a thing? Honestly, it helps us justify our own lack of perseverance and motivation. We do not always feel like reading the Bible. And since many of us have been taught not to do it out of duty, we don’t do it at all. In an effort to combat the conviction we feel on Sunday mornings, we claim that we are in it for the “relationship”. This is the popular idea that says, “I don’t know my Bible, but I know Jesus!” Believe it or not, I have heard that statement before and, sadly, it’s not accurate. It is impossible to know Jesus apart from His inspired Word.
Where is it Going?
To be blunt, the lie of bibliolatry is going to forever remain with its originator, the father of lies (John 8:44), in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). Bibliolatry is a very destructive belief because it presents someone with a false sense of justification for not investing themselves in Scripture. I do not worship a leather-bound collection of paper covered in ink. I worship the Revealer of Truth. Truth is not 1,042 thin pages comprised of both red and black letters. Truth is the Word of God. Jesus is Truth (John 14:6). Jesus is not the materials that make up my Bible, but He is the message [i.e. the Word (John 1:1, 14)].
The reason I wrote this is because, just a couple months after beginning Seminary last Fall, I was told by a fellow student that I may be committing this crime – that I am worshiping my Bible and not the Lord. At the time I was not sure exactly what to say, and I still do not have all of the answers, but is there really a limit as to how much one should invest themselves in studying God’s Word? Am I really going to stand before God on judgment day and hear Him tell me that I sought to know Him too much? Sometimes I think we tend to say things without giving them enough thought.
To give an illustration, the Bible serves us like a wedding ring. I do not love my wedding ring more than I love my wife but it’s nonetheless precious to me. I never take it off nor am I ever without it because it is a tangible gift that I have to remember my wife, our love and my commitment to her. In the same way, the Word of God is a gift from the Lord and it is only through its pages that we come to know Him and thus deepen our relationship with Him.