We periodically get accused of being a “Bible worshipper” rather than a Christian because we hold a high view of God’s Word. This particular accusation is highly intriguing because there are so many ways in which it fundamentally misunderstands Christianity and misrepresents what Christians believe. In order to understand why such a charge is hurled, and why it is remotely effective as an argument, we need to first understand what is meant by the charge and what true Christianity is.
I don’t think many Christians would dispute the Jesus Christ is the absolute focus of Christianity. We are told to follow in the steps of Christ (1 Peter 2:21), and that one day we will be like Him (1 John 3:2) in complete holiness. Therefore what a Christian ought to worship is the Triune God, manifested in the flesh as Christ Jesus. That part every Christian ought to be able to agree to (a few pseudo-Christian cults aside).
How then did Christ view the Scriptures? Nineteen times in the Gospels Jesus uses the phrase “It is written”, referring back to the Old Testament. Sixteen times Jesus refers to the law of Moses in His teaching. Seven times He asks His opponents “Have ye not read?”. Ten times He referred back to “the prophets” as authoritative. Twelve times He refers to “the law” as authoritative. He also directly quoted the Old Testament seventy-eight times. Clearly, Jesus had a very high view of the Scripture that existed in His day.
Jesus having a high view of Scripture is important because we are, after all, His followers. Ought not we have the same view of Scripture that He did? However, there is something important here that those who accuse people like me of being “Bible worshippers” overlook. Psalm 138:2 tells us ” I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” In other words, God has lifted His Word above even His own name. That is incredibly significant because it means that God Himself puts a premium on His Word. Perhaps this is because Christ Himself is the Word! “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 tells us. In fact, the first fourteen verses of the book of John talk about Jesus as the Word. This is confirmed in Revelation 19:13 where Jesus is given the name “the Word of God”.
This is not to say that the physical Bibles we hold in our hands are manifestations of Christ’s physical body. They clearly are not. However, the Bible is an extension of Who God is. The Word tells us what we need to know about God and His world. It tells us of our sin, our need of a Savior, and what future awaits us. The Word took an aspect of Himself, had faithful men put it down on paper, then had faithful men transmit it until it reached us today.
Given the high view God Himself has of Scripture and the fact that Christ Himself is the Word, what motivates people to attack other people for having a high view of Scripture? I think it is a fundamental misunderstanding of Who Jesus is. To many people, Jesus is a God of pure love, Who never chastens, never tells you what to do. His only goal is to love you and save you. After that, you have the liberty to do whatever you want. This is, of course, antithetical to the real Jesus who commands that, if we love Him, we keep His commandments (John 14:15). His commandments were clearly against numerous sins, such as even looking at a woman with lust(Matthew 5:28). He made it clear He was not present to destroy the Old Testament law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). To claim that Jesus was a God of love Who never challenged sinners requires a significant reinterpretation of the Bible. This is only possible if you have a low view of Scripture. This low view of Scripture then manifests in calling those who have a higher view “Bible worshippers”.
While we do not worship our physical Bibles, we must understand that the author of the Bible is the Living Word, Christ Jesus, and that He is worthy of our worship. It is out of our worship of the Godhead that our love and reverence for the Bible proceeds. The Scripture’s are given of God that we may know Him and what He desires for us. Should we not treat them with a level of respect we show to no other physical book?
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