As believers and disciples of Christ, it is right to be mindful of being biblical in our approach to Christian doctrine and practice. Truth and fidelity to true teachings of Scripture are not to be trifled with. We need to be discerning and faithful to what is biblically sound and true.
Yet, in our biblical vigilance, is it possible for us to fall into the trap of hyper-zealousness that swings to the other extreme—the extreme that borders on, if not, slides into a form of idolatry? The form of idolatry I am thinking about is what can be called “bibliolatry.”
To me, bibliolatry is manifested in a hyper-literalist, hyper-fundamentalist approach to scriptural texts that refuses to consider nuances and dimensions that are not immediately amenable to unequivocal reading. There is a certain rigidity of intellect and hardness of heart that stands on what one thinks must be right at all costs, even in the face of extenuating circumstances and possible alternative readings. There is no presuppositionless exegesis, but bibliolatry refuses to admit this fact and assumes privileged and infallible access to truth in a text.
In effect, bibliolatry is worship of the biblical text in place of even God himself, who in His living Spirit, may be calling us into unfamiliar territories of textual exegesis and hermeneutics. Of course, I am not suggesting cavalier and careless allegorical readings or idiosyncratic eisegesis being conflated with rigorous exegesis. Rather, I am asserting a living breathing dialogical hermeneutics where the reader and the text are held in a mutuality of horizons permeated by the living Spirit of God.
We read the biblical texts in context—biblically, historically, culturally, sociopolitically and pneumatologically—in a dialectical and dialogical fusion of horizons between reader and text. Out of this fusion comes the production of meaning and excavation of truth. We need to be mindful of veering away from bibliolatry to land on a dynamic, contextual, and faithful biblicality.
Let us steer clear of the Scylla of cavalier non-biblicality and the Charybdis of bibliolatry. Either way, we dishonour the Word of God and run the risk of being prickly intolerant hyper-fundamentalists of the self-righteous kind. If, as a church, one adopts such prickly hyper-fundamentalism dedicated to bibliolatry, then I would call such a church not a Bible-preaching ekklesia but one that is Bible-idolising, either seasoned with or saturated by ekklesial self-righteousness.
Such churches do not attract me at all, and I suspect, many others as well. In any case, honest reflexivity is beneficial for us as Christ followers both personally and ekklesiastically. Let us be wakeful and authentic in our church life, and not be content with a culture of group-think and echo-chambers. Bibliolatry is not fun. Neither is it good for us, both now and forever.