Do Christians Worship a Book?
Posted by Joseph Torres
John Frame reflects on the objection that evangelicals worship the Bible, also known as ‘bibliolatry’:
The psalmists view the words of God with religious reference and awe, attitudes appropriate only to an encounter with God himself. The psalmist trembles with godly fear (Ps. 119:120; cf. Isa. 66:5), stands in awe of God’s words (Ps. 119:161), and rejoices in them (v. 162). He lifts his hands to God’s commandments (v. 48). He exalts and praises not only God himself, but also his “name” (Ps. 9:2; 34:3; 68:4). He gives thanks to God’s name (Ps. 138:2). He praises God’s word in Psalm 56:4,10. This is extraordinary, since Scripture uniformly considers it idolatrous to worship anything other than God. But to praise or fear God’s word is not idolatrous. To praise God’s word is to praise God himself.
Does this worship justify bibliolatry? The Bible, as we will see later, is God’s word in a finite medium. It may be paper and ink, or parchment, or audiotape or a CD-ROM. The medium is not divine, but creaturely. We should not worship the created medium; that would be idolatry. But through the created medium, we received the authentic word of God, and that word of God should be treated as if God were speaking it with his own lips. It should be received with absolute trust, obedience, and, yes, worship.
Opponents of evangelicalism commonly say that it is idolatrous to accept any human word as having divine authority. Scripture, however, teaches that we should accept the divine-human words on its pages precisely as God’s own. Evangelicals are often too sensitive to the charge of bibliolatry. That charge is illegitimate, and it should not motivate evangelicals to water down their view of Scripture.
-John M. Frame, Doctrine of the Word of God, 67-68