The Oxford Dictionaries define bibliolatry as:
1. an excessive adherence to the literal interpretation of the Bible.
Sometimes people misspell it as Bibleolatry but we want to use the official English word here. As Wikipedia points out the word is used as a pejorative, it is not that there really are Christians that literally worship the Bible. It is just the impression one gets from the way they use the Bible. A couple of examples from my wandering across the Internet.
Over on HeavenlySanctuary.com a person by the name of David begins a post by saying:
in Luke 19 "if they are quiet the rocks will cry out''. Truth? egw in DA p573 says
“That scene of triumph was of Gods own appointing. It had been fortold by the prophet, and man was POWERLESS TO TURN IT ASIDE. Had men failed to carry out His plan, He would have GIVEN A VOICE TO INANIMATE STONES, and they would have hailed His Son with ACCLAMATIONS of praise."
God does not want the praise or worship of robots (weve talked about this many times here). Would the rocks have been robots 'acclaiming paise' ? would that have made Jesus happy? forcing rocks to praise Hiim?
The post goes on into some more questionable thoughts but to this point it is pretty clever. It shows a very good example of bibliolatry in Ellen Whites writing's. It is the tendency to take something that could easily simply be hyperbole into something that is meant to be taken literally. Jesus speaks the following in Luke's gospel account:
Luke 19:37-41NIV When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" n "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!""I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it”
It is easy to see this as a jab at the Pharisees who wanted to quiet the crowd, it is more difficult to see this as a possibility of God causing stones to speak human language, after all stones don't say much most of the time and they are not thought to be all that smart or connected to spiritual things. Why would God want to make stones praise God...that would be pretty cheap praise. If God forces you, or an inanimate object to praise Him is it really praise at all?
In this case we have a combination of bibliolatry and Ellenolatry, though that last one is not currently a real English word and I hope it never becomes one. But it is sort of the idolatry that the Whiteites do exhibit. Whiteites is a term I do hope becomes a legitimate English word for those who uncritically accept Ellen White as prophetic spiritual authority who is without theological, historical or scientific error.
Let's look at another frequent example of bibliolatry, this one from Sherman Cox II on his blog Sabbath Pulpit. Speaking about the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and some Adventist responses he writes:
Now there is the whole “God is trying to tell God’s true church something” bit. Ok it is possible to read this as “God killing of thousands of innocent lives just to tell the church something.” I don’t know, but I don’t think that is Boonstra’s interpretation. I would guess that Boonstra would mean that “God is withdrawing God’s hand of protection and thus the evil one is allowed to do more and more of these things. Thus it is a signal to us that the end is near.” Certainly folks may disagree with that due to having a different theology, but is it really an insidious attack on God’s goodness.
Last week in my Sabbath School class I encountered this very similar idea that God is withdrawing His hand of protection, it is an idea based upon the following verse in Revelation:
Revelation 6:16-7:4 NIV They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
This is another of those intersections between the Whiteites and bibliolatry, like the person in my class they did not seem to realize that their quote from Revelation about the four winds is very subject to interpretation, to the Adventist traditionalist when they point to that verse their minds actually refer to the following Ellen White quote:
The restraining Spirit of God is even now being withdrawn from the world. Hurricanes, storms, tempests, fire and flood, disasters by sea and land, follow each other in quick succession. Science seeks to explain all these. The signs thickening around us, telling of the near approach of the Son of God, are attributed to any other than the true cause. Men cannot discern the sentinel angels restraining the four winds that they shall not blow until the servants of God are sealed; but when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture. (Testimonies to the Church Vol 6 page 408)
Now there is no real Bible teaching that God restrains His Spirit but the belief in the authoritative prophet with the aid of subsequent tradition, the interpretation of a specific Bible text though vague becomes an infallible truth. It then becomes bibliolatry.
At its heart bibliolatry is never really about what the Bible says it is about what the chosen interpretation is. The one particular interpretation is the truth regardless of the other options involved. So the people don't even come close to worshiping the Bible as much as their respect is limited to their particular interpretation. If you don't agree with that interpretation then you reject the Bible and if you reject their interpretation of the Bible you are rejecting God. It reminds me of the text I found when looking at the only other Bible text where stones cry out
Habakkuk 2:11-12 NIV The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it."Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime!
After that bit of poetic language the prophet moves on to another subject and we read:
Habakkuk 2:18 NIV "Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.
When the Bible text interpretation becomes an object of the human creator it becomes an idol, it can then speak lies, the text speak what the idol maker wants them to say because the trust is now in the idol (assigned meaning to the text by the idol maker). This is most easily done with vague and obscure texts such as the Latter Day Saints do with baptism for the dead or the reference to the Time of Jacobs Trouble or the four winds etc. Apocalyptic literature is ideal for this technique. Bibliolatry is a growing problem in Adventism. Next week. The myth of solo scriptura.