Several years ago, during some debate on the authority of Scripture, I was accused of “bibliolatry.” I didn’t even know what that meant! Should I be offended or honored? Turns out it means to see the Bible as an idol. It was meant as a put down. While I certainly don’t “idolize” the physical Bible, I certainly do have a deep, abiding love for God’s unchanging Word!
And with all my heart I believe that it is impossible to separate the words of the Bible, all the words of the Bible, from the person of Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:13 teaches us that one of the Divine names of Jesus is, “the Word of God.” (NIV) And in John’s Gospel, the disciple speaks of the beginnings of Jesus by writing in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (NIV) I say that we can never be closer to Jesus than when we are spending time in God’s Word, the Bible.
Much of the sad division we see in so many denominations today finds its roots in the school of thought that separates Jesus from the Bible. When humanity begins to deny the truthfulness of certain parts of the Bible, the beginning of apostasy is near! When evangelist Billy Graham was just beginning his ministry in 1949 the swirling of doubting the absolute authority of Scripture was in the air. Billy was being impacted by these trends. At a speaking engagement in California he faced a crisis of faith. Could the Bible, all of the Bible, be absolutely trusted? In the woods of a retreat center, with his Bible on a stump, Billy faced his doubts.
Billy’s grandson, Will Graham, writing in his book, Redeemed (Nelson, 2018), quotes his grandfather explaining how he came to resolution about the authority of the Bible. “I pondered the attitude of Christ toward the Scriptures. He loved those sacred writings and quoted from them constantly. Never once did He intimate that they could be wrong.”
Jesus quotes from or refers to: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, 1 Samuel, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Psalms, Isaiah, Daniel, Hosea, Jonah, and Malachi. And He speaks in very factual terms about Bible events that liberal theologians routinely dismiss as certainly not factual such as Adam and Eve and creation, the flood of Noah, Lot’s wife being turned to salt, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jonah being swallowed by the big fish.
The Covenant Brethren Church is founded upon the absolute authority of God’s Word in the footprints of those first eight Brethren who entered the waters of the Eder River in Schwarzenau, Germany in August 1708. There was no question in their young minds that every word of the Bible was trustworthy. That truth shaped and guided them. It still does us. The Word, is the Word, is the Word!
Trusting the Word!
Larry Dentler, CBC Executive Board