Do Inerrantists elevate the Bible to the level of idolatry?

by Matt Slick

Unfortunately, there are those who criticize the reliability and inspiration of the Bible and along with their criticism accuse those who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture as being virtual idolaters and of venerating the Bible more than the message--more than Jesus.  Such an accusation is ridiculous. Upholding that the original documents of the Bible are without error and then defending that position does not mean that we are worshiping the Bible or bowing before it as idolaters.  Again, the accusation that we are idolaters is a ludicrous and unfounded attack by those who seek to undermine the authority of God's word.

There are many who worship God and who also have a great reverence and respect for God's written word.  There is nothing wrong with upholding and honoring the word of God this way.  It doesn't mean that they are worshiping the Bible or being idolatrous.

Reverence

The idea of showing reverence to things other than God is biblical.  In fact, we are commanded in the word to show reverence in the following ways (quotes from the NASB):

  • Reverence to parents
    • Lev. 19:3, "Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father, and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the Lord your God."
  • Reverence to the sanctuary of God
    • Lev. 19:30, "‘You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the Lord."
    • Lev. 26:2, "You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the Lord."
  • Reverence to Moses and Joshua
    • Joshua 4:14, "On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life."
  • Reverence to the name of God
    • Neh. 1:11, "O Lord, I beseech Thee, may thine ear be attentive to the prayer of Thy servant and the prayer of Thy servants who delight to revere Thy name, and make Thy servant successful today, and grant him compassion before this man."

If God commands people to show reverence to Sabbaths, to sanctuaries, etc., is God advocating idolatry? Not at all!

Idolatry

Are those who hold to biblical inerrancy and who also defend such inerrancy equivalent to promoting a form of idolatry? Not at all.  We are simply defending the truth that God inspires his written word; and that his written word, in the originals, is without error.  It is against this claim that errant tests sometimes accuse us of being idolaters.  Please consider some quotes from some errantists attacking innerrantists:

  • Anybody who claims that the Bible is infallible is putting a (printed) Graven Image on a par with God and is on the verge of idolatry.
  • Why is this an important distinction?  Because inerrancy takes the focus off the message of God and puts it upon the text itself, making the text the focus of the believer and not the message.  And in this creates a form of idolatry, which you are participating in, as it venerates and exalts the book to be the focus of the believer and not the message.

Basically, idolatry is the worship of idols and/or the excessive admiration and/or devotion to an object or false god. Those who accuse inerrantists of being idolaters are accusing them of worshiping and/or showing excessive devotion and/or admiration to the Bible.

Each person is different, and how different people regard the Bible is up to them. Nevertheless, the word of God should be revered.  It should be elevated to a place of honor in every Christian's life.  But it does not mean that the Bible is a book put on an altar before which we kneel and then pray to it. Nor does it mean that sacrifices are made to the Bible or that supplications are made to it or any such nonsense.  No one prays, "Oh Bible, please help us refute wackos."  Instead, the Bible is properly regarded with honor and with reverence since it is God's holy and inerrant Word.

Again, regarding the accusation of idolatry.  The Bible has some very stern warnings for those who practice idolatry:

  • 1 Cor. 5:11, "But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one."
  • 1 Cor. 6:9, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals."
  • Rev. 21:8, "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

It would seem that those who accuse the inerrantists of idolatry are equating them with immorality, the covetous, drunkards, swindlers, fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, murderers, sorcerers, and liars; all of whom will enter into the Lake of Fire.  This is an outrageous and unwarranted attack.

Conclusion

The errantists undermine the authority and trustworthiness of the Word of God by saying that the very act of God's inspiration, essentially, has mistakes.  We must ask, how can God's Word be trusted in the light of such an accusation?

They cast doubt upon the very heart of the truth of God's Word.  Who was the first one to do that?

"Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'"? (Gen. 3:1)

 

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