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What Is Bibliolatry?

Most Christians don’t worship the Bible, we do have to recognize that God has the highest authority. Scripture, although inerrant and God-breathed, is not the sole source in which God speaks to believers.

May 05, 2020
What Is Bibliolatry?

Some people are accusing Christians of committing idolatry. No, Christians don’t have any shrines to any pagan gods in their households, or at least, they shouldn’t (Deuteronomy 12). But some claim that Christians may worship an idol in which most Christian households contain.

A Bible.

Bibliolatry combines the words Bible and idolatry to form the idea that Christians have placed the Bible in a higher pedestal over God when they take Scripture literally.

But isn’t all Scripture God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17)? Is it possible to “worship” the Bible more than we worship God? Where do people who misinterpret or abuse Scripture fall into this equation, and can we take Scripture literally without falling into idol worship?

Let’s dive into all these questions and more.

A Misunderstanding of Idolatry

We need to define our terms. What exactly is an idol? And what does idol worship look like?

An idol is something in which someone places excessive devotion toward something else, especially in the place of the one True Creator. Idols attempt to replace God, and Scripture strictly forbids the worship or obsession with them (Exodus 20:4).

Frequent idol worship we see in the Old Testament includes sacrifices (1 Corinthians 8) and paying reverence to that object or idol (1 Kings 18). This doesn’t seem to fit the equation of the Bible. After all, we don’t sacrifice animals and pray to our ESV on a shrine in the middle of our family room (or, again, at least we shouldn’t).

So, where on earth did this idea of Bibliolatry come about?

The Most Important Authority

The crux of the issues tends to boil down to whose authority should we trust more: Jesus or Scripture? After all, Jesus is God. If Jesus were to say something that seems to contradict Scripture, shouldn’t we place more trust in what he says than what the Bible does?

Those who argue the above appear to be missing a few key points.

Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).

In other words, he lived by Scripture, frequently quoted from Scripture, and asserted the authority of Scripture. Jesus took Scripture seriously and literally. And if we are to follow his example, we are to do the same.

But this does not mean that the Bible is equal in authority to God.

The main claims of the opponents of Bibliolatry worry that certain denominations may be placing too hard of an emphasis on Sola Scriptura (the idea that the authority for the Christian faith comes from Scripture alone). Although the Bible is inerrant, some people may be putting more time into studying the Bible than working on their relationship with Christ.

In other words, people have become so obsessed with Scripture, that they forget the central character within it.

Where Do We Draw the Line?

Most importantly, a Christian must establish that Scripture doesn’t have every answer for daily living. Scripture has little to nothing to say about dating, mental health, proper household financing, etc. It does give us universal principles that can apply to most particular situations, but we cannot rely on Scripture alone for our spiritual walk.

We also do have to realize that God can speak to us in more ways than just Scripture. Discerning God’s will for our lives comes through more than just reading the Bible. It’s important to be in the Word every day, but he has, throughout history, been known to make his will apparent through godly advisors, logic, visions, dreams, and the leading of God’s Spirit. God had a plan for humanity before the Bible was even written.

Although we can’t offer a cut-and-dried solution on where to draw that line for every single Christian, it boils down to how much we allow God to speak to us in our personal walk with him. He will often do so through the Bible, but we have to be attuned to his voice if he chooses to reach out to us in other ways.

Most Christians don’t worship the Bible, we do have to recognize that God has the highest authority. Scripture, although inerrant and God-breathed, is not the sole source in which God speaks to believers.


Hope Bolinger is an acquisitions editor at End Game Press, and the author of almost 30 books. More than 1500 of her works have been featured in various publications. Check out her books at hopebolinger.com for clean books in most genres, great for adults and kids.

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