Bible

Bibliolatry?

The words bibliolater/bibliolatry seem kinda trendy these days, but date back to the 1800s (per Webster’s). First definition of bibliolater: “one having excessive reverence for the letter of the Bible.” That could make sense.

Problem 1: As is easily verified, no one in the world believes that every single word of the Bible is literal. Any serious Bible reader is aware of figurative spots; and Jesus’ parables are by definition made-up stories. So don’t get caught defending against an accusation that’s based on a false premise.

Problem 2: Terms like bibliolater/bibliolatry tend (emphasis on tend) to show up along with a low view of Scripture and a downplaying of key teachings like the deity of Jesus, the atonement, and resurrection. So it’s good to dig in to determine what other beliefs are behind statements like the following in Christian books: “I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word—bibliolatry. God cannot be confined within the covers of a leather-bound book. I
develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants.” (Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, p 188)

Problem 3: Back to Webster’s “excessive reverence.” Is it possible to have too high a regard for the Word of the Lord Almighty, a Word described as “alive” (Hebrews 4:12) and VERY closely identified with Jesus himself? (John 1:1, 14; Rev 19:11-16)

Maybe we should consider Webster’s second definition of bibliolater: “one overly devoted to books.” Are we putting so much stock in books of human origin that we’ll never be accused of “excessive reverence” for THE book?

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