Are Christians Bibliolaters?

Sometimes, various groups that claim to be Christian will refer to Christians as engaging in Bibliolatry, or that conservative protestants worship the Bible. This of course is an ad hominem argument. An ad hominem argument is an argument in which rather than attacking the position of your opponent you attack instead the character or ability of your opponents. Thus for example, if you made the case that everyone should pay the taxes they owe, and I answered you think that because you are a communist my argument doesn’t really address the question of paying taxes what I have instead done is changed the issue (or attempted to change the issue) from paying one’s taxes to the character of the person I am discussing this with. Similarly, rather than discussing the issues involving Bibliology, many who do not accept the authority of Scripture prefer then to accuse those who do of idolatry.

There is no question of whether conservative protestants actually worship the Bible, we don’t. Yet, if the Bible is God’s Word, as it claims to be, then to disrespect the word of God is to disrespect the God who spoke it. As Christians we view the Bible as God’s communication and to dishonor that communication would be to dishonor the God who wrote it; more to the point, it is to disobey Him.

So the underlying question is whether or not Christians should view Bible as the Word of God, or more accurately why do we treat the Bible as the word of God? This of course is a larger topic than can be handled fully in a blog post, but here are a few relevant posts:

  • Scripture describes itself as inspired (2 Timothy 3:16, 1 Pet 1:21, et al), this does not prove it is inspired, but it does mean that the Bible’s claims should be evaluated on this basis.
  • The ultimate question of whether Christianity is true can be answered from the resurrection. If Christ is resurrected from the grave, it validates His claim to deity, and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). The resurrection is established not on the inspiration of Scripture, but on the historical reliability of the gospel accounts.
  • Jesus himself claimed and treated the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament as authoritative (Luke 24:44 et al., the discussion of the law, prophets and Psalms appears to correspond to the three divisions of the Hebrew Old Testament, the Torah (law) the Nabim (prophets) and the Kethib (writings, headed with the Psalms).
  • Jesus also stated that the apostles would be authoritative teachers (John 14:26, Jesus was speaking to the apostles not to the Church as a whole, and is stating that they would be kept from error in their teaching; Matthew 18:18 which interestingly enough indicates that the apostles would reflect God’s understanding when read in the original Greek, the idea of binding and loosing was a common Rabbinic expression for regulations involving the law).
  • Paul similarly claimed his message was received on the same authority, and that the other apostles recognized this authority (Galatians 1-2).
  • When we look at the historical reliability and some interesting scientific asides in the Bible (Job 26:7, something that could not be discovered by natural means) this would seem to further corroborate these claims.
  • As we examine the alleged discrepancies in the Scripture it becomes more and more evident that most of them are based on a poor understanding of Scripture – while this does not remove all problems to inerrancy it does indicate these are not unsolvable problems.

While this is a very brief and perhaps incomplete discussion of the authority of Scripture, what I believe is clear is that once we accept the resurrection of Christ, we have no ultimate rational reason to reject the Bible’s teaching about itself. I would invite anyone asking the questions to examine the systematic theologies for a fuller discussion as well as the articles in B B Warfield’s On the Inspiration and Authority of the Bible.

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