You might be familiar with the term, bibliolatry.
Maybe someone has accused you of it. Or perhaps you might have labelled someone a bibliolater yourself.
What does it mean?
Commonly it refers to someone who worships the Bible over and above God; that is, someone who idolises Scripture. Now, I think we’d all agree that the person who puts a Bible on an altar, lights some candles or incense around it, and bows down and worships this object, would be guilty of idolatry – worshipping the created rather than the Creator (Rom 1:25). But this is not usually what people mean when they call someone a bibliolater. What is generally meant is someone who excessively reveres the words of God.
Is it possible to make the Bible into an idol? To treasure God’s words more than God himself?
If it is, Psalm 119 would arguably be a great example of “bibliolatry”:
For I delight in your commands
because I love them. (v. 47)
The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (v. 72)
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long (v. 97)
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth! (v. 103)
Is the Psalmist idolising Scripture?
Brothers and sisters, he is doing nothing of the sort.
I find it incredibly saddening when Christians set up a dichotomy between loving God’s word and loving God. The beautiful truth is that it is impossible to revere God’s words too much. We’re at no risk of idolising the creature rather than the Creator when we cherish Scripture, for there is a profound unity between God and his word. Theologian John Frame suggests that “you cannot separate the word of God from God himself.” John Stott likewise says that “God has clothed His thoughts in words, and there is no way to know Him except by knowing the Scriptures.”
The reason the Psalmist is so delighted in the Scriptures is because the word reveals God.
I’m convinced that if our greatest desire is to know God, then we will relish the Scriptures with such an intense passion it will probably look idolatrous to the outside world. My prayer for us this morning is that we would be people who, like the Psalmist, “open our mouths and pant, longing for God’s word” (v. 131)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly for His glory,