“Bibliolatry”

I wonder if you’ve heard this word? It’s sometimes used by people who want to disparage our confidence in the words of Holy Scripture. It’s made up of the two Greek words — for ‘Bible’ and ‘worship.’ The accusation is that we are ‘Bible worshippers.’

At one level, the accusation that evangelicals are ‘Bible worshippers’ is just plain silly — does anyone set up his Bible on the mantle-piece, then bow down and pray to it? Of course not (although in my experience there have been some who seemed to ‘idolize’ a particular English translation, but that’s another kettle of fish!).

However, at a deeper level, we evangelical and Reformed Christians do (and should) have a deep respect for the Bible, for it is the Word of God. The words of Scripture were ‘breathed out’ by God’s Spirit, as he moved the original authors to write down God’s prophetic revelation:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2Tim.3:16-17)

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2Pet.1:20-21).

This means that when we hear (or read) the Bible, we are actually listening to God. These are his words, whether in the original languages or in translation. As the translators’ introduction to the first edition of the Authorised Version (1611) put it:

… we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English… containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the King’s speech, which he uttereth in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every Translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, everywhere.

The Bible is the King-of-king’s speech, and therefore deserves our attention, gratitude and submission. It is God’s account of his plan to establish his everlasting kingdom, under the headship of the Lord Jesus, and the outworking of that plan, culminating in the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ.

If a person receives a love-letter from his spouse or close friend, he cherishes it because of who sent it, and what it says. It is precious to him, as the words of his lover. He doesn’t worship the letter… but when he reads it, he thinks of that precious friend who loves him. So it is with the Bible. You could say it is a love letter from the Creator of the Universe to his human creatures, opening his heart to us, and calling us to receive eternal life through turning from rebellion and trusting his Son.

No, we are not ‘bibliolaters’ but we love God’s Word, his letter of love to us.

 

One thought on ““Bibliolatry””

  1. Then sometimes, even among those who say they have “a deep respect for the Bible, for it is the Word of God.” when it comes down to it and making important decisions, disregard it!

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