Are you a Bible worshiper? The denomination I was raised in has been accused of “Bible idolatry”. The first time I heard this idea, I was stunned. Really? Since the Bible is God’s words, then how could that even be possible? I read a book recently called The Blue Parakeet, by Scot McKnight that opened my eyes to exactly what it might look like to worship the Bible instead of God.
Do I value the Bible more than God Himself? If I no longer had a Bible at my fingertips, what would happen to my relationship with God?
Scot McKnight, professor of religious studies, profoundly says, “Without denying the legitimacy of the various terms in the authority approach, those who have a proper relationship to the Bible never need to speak of the Bible as their authority nor do they speak of their submission to the Bible. They are so in tune with God, so in love with him, that the word “authority” is swallowed up in loving God. Even more, submission is engulfed in the disposition of listening to God speak through the Bible and in practice desire what He calls us to do.” (page 93, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible).
I had been taught the “authority approach” to God’s Word, defined with words such as revelation, inspiration, inerrancy, authority, submission. I had a relationship with the Bible. Scot McKnight showed me that the Bible is far more than submitting to an authority. It is an integral part of a relationship with God. Our relationship to the Bible should actually be a relationship with the God of the Bible.
In Psalm 119, the psalmist declares God’s word to be delightful and expresses a love for doing whatever God asks. He does not say, “Your Words are authoritative and I am called to submit to them.” Instead, he says, “Your words are delightful, and I love to do whatever you ask.” The first approach emphasizes a relationship to the Bible. The second one emphasizes a relationship to God.
We should stop asking what the Bible says and instead ask what God says to us in the Bible. Is this just semantics? Is it the same outcome, different perspective? I think it boils down to relationship. God gave the Bible – not so we can know it, but so we can know and love Him through it.
The best way to read His Word is to be in conversation with Him. To listen to Him. To be attentive to His voice. To absorb what He says, and then to act on what we have heard.
The Bible is the vehicle for knowing God. It is the means to the end, not the end in itself. God wants us to take the two-dimensional words on paper and allow them to become a three-dimensional encounter with Him.