Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 17, 1971
NUMBER 7, PAGE 6b,7b

Bibliolatry — (Do We Worship The Bible?)

James Sanders

Ask your preacher if he believes the Bible to be the exclusive Word of God. His answer may well startle you. Many ministers (so-called) no longer identify the Scriptures as the Word of God. To them the Holy Scriptures may contain a portion of the Word of God but not any more than the writings of Shakespeare or of Confucius. To their way of thinking, to use the Bible as the supreme standard of authority is Bibliolatry. It is nothing short of sinful idolatry; the worship of a book rather than God. Preposterous? Let me give you a few quotes:*

(1) Emile Brunner writes: "The habit of regarding the written word, the Bible, as the "Word of God' — as is the traditional equation of the 'word' of the Bible with the `Word of God' — an error which is constantly on the verge of being repeated — is actually a breach of the Second Commandment; it is the deification of a creature, bibliolatry." (Revelation and Reason, P. 120).

But if appealing to the Scriptures as the Word of God is idolatry (bibliolatry), what is Brunner guilty of? He refers to the second commandment (a portion of Scripture) as authoritative and then turns right around and accuses us of idolatry (bibliolatry). Some people would call that "reasoning in circles" — and that's exactly what it is!

(2) Karl Barth is well known among the "liberal" circles. Hear him: "we do the Bible a poor honour, and one unwelcome to itself, when we directly identify it with something else, with revelation itself." (Church Dogmatics 1/1, 126).

We are compelled to ask, "If the Bible is not the Word of God (revelation), what then is? And where did Barth receive his peculiar revelation? Who told Barth that identifying the Scriptures with God's revelation was a poor honour? Why, just the opposite is true! It is a "poor honour, and one unwelcome to itself, when" Barth's philosophy is identified "with something else, with" God's revelation itself!

(3) The comment of Nels Ferre is typical: "the use of the Bible as the final authority for Christian truth is idolatry." (The Sun and the Umbrella, p. 39).

But we think otherwise and so state: "If the Bible is not from God, then God has not spoken to man." It's that simple. To disregard "the Bible as the final authority for Christian truth" is downright blasphemy.

These men are not agnostics or infidels (or so they claim). "Contemporary Theologians" is what they like to be called. Often they are referred to as "Christian Think-en." But such a title is highly dubious. "Christians" — they are not and there is every reason to question the epithet of "Thinkers." In our opinion, these men are neither "Christian" nor "Thinkers."

"But what does this have to do with my preacher'!" Good question. Men such as Ferre, Brunner, and Barth represent a cross section of "liberal" theology. The "liberal" minister has been educated at their feet and under their influence. He thinks as they do but generally is not near as bold.

Now you know why you haven't heard much Bible from the pulpit lately. The "liberal" preacher may not consider the Scriptures relevant or even worthwhile! "After all why quote from an ancient and antiquated Book (the Bible) when so many current selections (with just as much authority) are available?" "Why preach the lowly Christ when you can preach Barth, Fosdick, or Brunner?" "Why preach a saving gospel when a social gospel will do just as well?" So reasons the "liberal" minister (and many of our own brethren are not far behind).

Next Lord's Day count the number of passages quoted by your preacher. Then be honest with yourself: "Did he quote more from man than he did from God?" Luke says that "Paul as his manner was, went in unto them and ... reasoned with them out of the scriptures" (Acts 17:2). To Paul, the Scriptures were the final authority. And the Apostle of Christ preached accordingly! Sin was rebuked and souls were saved! The gospel in its purity was boldly proclaimed.

If you're not hearing that type of preaching every Lord's Day, then it is time you did something about it — or went somewhere else. "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day," so said the Lord Jesus. (Jno. 12:48). And we believe Him.

* Note: The words of Brunner, Barth, and Ferre were quoted as they appeared in Bernard Ramm's "A Handbook of Contemporary Theology."