Many Christians worship their holy scriptures — they hold them in as high of a regard as they do their god. Indeed, these Christians almost seem like their Bible is their god. It is as if they have really expanded their holy Trinity into a ‘Quadranty’ (Father, Son, Holy Ghost and Bible).
This is Bibliolatry — oh the shame ! Is this not heresy?
Christians come in many flavors, and one thing that separates them from each other is what they count as evidence for what they believe. In philosophy, the way we value evidence or what we consider reliable knowledge is called “epistemology”. Here are the components of a Christian’s Epistemology:
- The Bible
An anthology of books, by many different writers. The anthology was chosen by political councils to enforce orthodox belief.
- Personal Revelation
From their invisible friend Jesus, his Father or the Holy Ghost.
- Their Priest / Pastor / Parent / Favorite writers
Who also get their knowledge from from #1 & #2
Each flavor of Christianity weighs this very differently.
Christians who are Bibliolators hold the Bible as the highest source of knowledge. Why? Because the Bible tells them so. “Wait! Your kidding!”, you may say, But nope, here are an OT and a NT passage that Christians often quote in support their book’s authority:
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple. — Psalm 19:7
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, —2 Timothy 3:16
Jesus, a Jew, used the Jewish scriptures to preach his gospel. This passage is from both Mark and Matthew:
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
-Matthew 22:29 (cf. Mark 12:24)
Remember, Jesus now lives in a fuzzy place as a potential invisible friend where he can talk to all true believers and help them to really see the truth of the Bible in ways you and I can’t.
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. –Luke 24:45
I use to be a believer, and I felt my eyes were open. But even while they were open, my views changed. And now that I don’t believe, much of the Bible seems like pure foolishness to me. But the, Paul predicted that:
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
— 1 Cor. 1:18
So if Bibliolatry doesn’t make sense to you, it is just further confirmation that you are foolish and damned. Yeah, right !
But Christians are right to fear studying the Bible critically. They are right to set up safeguards from questioning, doubting and valuing reason more highly. For if their Bible is called into question and it is the top of their epistemology as if almost a deity, then they know that if the bible falls, so does their god — for the bible is their god. So you can understand their fear.
For Bibliolators, critical thinking could destroy their world.
Note: Bart Ehrman, in his new book “Jesus Interrupted“, wrote that many early Christians were not such Bibliolators and many modern day liberal/progressive Christians are not either.