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Bibliolatry (from the Greek βιβλίον biblion, "book" and the suffix -λατρία -latria, "worship")[1][2] is the worship of a particular book or worshiping the description of a deity found within a particular book.

In Christianity[edit]

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

In Christianity, the term bibliolatry is used in a derogatory sense toward those who either have an extreme devotion to the Bible itself, or hold to a high view of biblical inerrancy.[3] Those who esteem Biblical inerrancy point to passages such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17, stating that the Scriptures, as received, are a perfect (and in some views, complete) source of what must be known about God. Critics of this view call it a form of idolatry, and point to verses such as John 5:39-40 to point out that Jesus was asking humanity to relate to God directly, not just seek God's rules and spurn a relationship with the God who created them.[4]

Historic Christianity has never endorsed worship of the Bible itself, as worship is explicitly reserved only for God. Some Christians believe that biblical authority is derived from God as the inspiration behind the text, not the text itself.[5] So the term is not a reference to an actual belief, but is often used as a pejorative term to negatively label perceived practices of theological opponents. The groups to whom the term is most often applied are Protestants of a fundamentalist and evangelical background who hold to Biblical inerrancy and sola scriptura (Scripture as the only divine authority).

Disputes exist as to whether the King James Only movement is or is not a form of bibliolatry.

Roman Catholicism[edit]

Catholicism traditionally looks to Scripture and sacred tradition together as authoritative (prima scriptura), rather than scripture alone, and thus has often implicitly accused some Protestant sects of bibliolatry. Jaroslav Pelikan writes of Unitatis Redintegratio 21, "the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church of 1962–1965 could speak with a mixture of genuine admiration and ever-so-gentle reproof about a 'love and reverence, almost a cult, for Holy Scripture' among the 'separated Protestant brethren'."[6]

Southern Baptists[edit]

Southern Baptists have in recent years been accused of practicing bibliolatry by numerous[quantify] and well-respected evangelical leaders[which?] due to a wording change in the 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message and the corollary purging of the ranks that removed any professors who believed that historical or archaeological findings might legitimately raise questions about a passage. During the late 1990s, hundreds of Southern Baptist seminarians and denominational officials were systematically removed from office for either claiming that cultural and archaeological findings could give a better understanding of the context of the Scriptures or (after the 2000 revision) for refusing to agree to the significant revision in the Baptist doctrine.[citation needed] Southern Baptist William Merrell's response to the charge of bibliolatry in 2000[7] exemplifies the vitriol this debate has produced.

In Islam[edit]

See also: Quranism

Though most often used in a Christian context, the charge of bibliolatry in this sense is also sometimes leveled against Islamic fundamentalists and other religionists deemed excessively devoted to their holy texts.[8]

In Sikhism[edit]

In Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib is not simply the holy text; the text itself was proclaimed as the final Guru by the last human Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. The grammar and syntax within the book cannot be altered, and the text has a key, central role within Sikh worship.

See also[edit]

  • ATrueChurch teaches that the Bible is to be worshipped, because it is God
  • Bibliomancy is the use of books (sometimes the holy books of a religion) for divination
  • Fetishism


  1. ^ "bibliolatry". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. ^ "-latry". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  3. ^ Geisler, Norman L.; Paul D. Feinberg (1980). Introduction to philosophy : a Christian perspective. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House. ISBN 978-0-8010-3735-1.  p. 307
  4. ^ Bible Study is Not Enough - Avoiding the ditch of Bibliolatry - Dr. Dan Hayden.
  5. ^ Alexander, T. Desmond; Brian S Rosner (2000). New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Leicester: Inter-Varsity. ISBN 0-8308-1438-8.  "Unity and Diversity in the History of Interpretation"
  6. ^ Jaroslav Pelikan (2006), Whose Bible Is It? A History of the Scriptures Through the Ages ISBN 0-670-03385-5.
  7. ^ Bibliolatry — A Fraudulent Accusation, William Merrell, SBC Life, October 2000.
  8. ^ The Unseen Face of Islam, Bill A. Musk, p.192, Kregel Publications, Missions to Muslims, 1989, ISBN 0-8254-6054-9