Can You Focus on the Bible Too Much?

Can You Focus on the Bible Too Much?

Jesus accused the Bible-focusers of not hearing God’s voice. They didn’t see his form. He had already borne witness to the Messiah in his word, but that word hadn’t landed in their hearts. They read the Bible. They studied it and memorized it. But they didn’t believe in Jesus, its principal subject. Jesus goes on to say, “I do not receive glory from people…How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God” (John 5:41-44)? They loved the Bible because it gave them glory.

In a recent conversation, a respectable gentleman accused me of coming dangerously close to “bibliolatry.” Bibliolatry means “worshiping the book,” and the term usually refers to the practice of revering the Bible too highly. According to Wikipedia (that never-ending fount of contemporary insight), the term may characterize “either extreme devotion to the Bible or the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.”

I’ve heard such comments before, particularly from young people who want to follow God but who don’t want to study the Bible. The thinking goes like this: “The Bible is good, but you shouldn’t focus on it too much.”

Now the argument isn’t always sophomoric. Some time ago, the evangelical philosopher J.P. Moreland delivered a paper to the Evangelical Theological Society, arguing against “the idea that the Bible is the sole source of knowledge of God, morality, and a host of related important items.” He’s concerned with Christians who take the Bible to be “the sole source of authority for faith and practice. Applied to inerrancy, the notion is that the Bible is the sole source of such knowledge and authority.” Moreland clearly believes the Bible to be both inerrant and final in its authority. But, he says, if Christians consider it to be the only authority for faith and practice—that is, for the Christian life—they are “over-committed” to it.

So is it possible (and unhelpful) to focus too much on the Bible?

The Easy Answer

Of course it’s possible.

Jesus often clashed with other teachers who focused too much on the Bible.

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