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Committing the Sin of Bibliolatry

Over the course of being a Christian, I’ve been called numerous things: bigot, hypocrite, self-righteous, judgemental, unchristlike, etc. Now, there’s no doubt that I have been these things at one time or another, but this name calling was mostly resultant from holding to a biblical worldview. Also, I was being called these things by those who didn’t claim to hold to such a position. However, soon after publishing a podcast episode called “Fortune Cookie Prophecy”, I was accused of something I have never been accused of before: being a Bible idolater.

I was told to be cautious, that I was wandering into “bibliolatry”. Now if you’ve listened to “Fortune Cookie Prophesy”, you know that Women of the Table hold to Sola Scriptura. We also believe that the prophetic and apostolic offices have ceased. For more on that topic, feel free to take a listen (or relisten) to that episode here: https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-csqah-c1eb07 . For now, and to accompany our latest topic, I want to talk about bibliolatry.

First things first, what is it? Well, it’s not idolatry in the sense where you literally bow down to a Bible and pay homage. It is rather more natural, like other forms of idolatry – placing your Bible in a position over God – the only One worthy of worship.

But can we actually commit the sin of Bible worship? I’m not one to say that any sin is impossible. We know that as fallen man, we are able to take any good thing and make it a “god-thing”, but can you do that with the very word of God? What would that look like? Is this really a danger that lurks beneath our study of the Bible? Yes, and no. Next I’ll lay out my negative position to the question.

Oftentimes this term, bibliolatry, is used in a derogatory sense. It’s even used by other “Bible-believing Christians”. However, the crux of the issue lies with our view of scripture. Even many self-professed Christians that claim the necessity of the Bible, don’t hold it as the very Word of God: infallible, inerrant, and always applicable regardless of the time and cultural context. There are also professing Christians who don’t credit the Bible with special authority, believing that new revelatory words of prophecy are equally as authoritative. So, then of course if you don’t believe ALL of the Bible is true, infallible, the very word of God, and the only sure place the word of God is found today, then it would only make sense that someone could fall in to the sin of Bible worship. By solely relying on scripture, or studying it too much, we would be “limiting” God, hindering the Spirit’s work in prophesying “new words from God”. We also would be rejecting today’s gift of advanced reason and science – replacing it with errant, archaic, far-removed scripture. Herein lies the problem with the accusations of bibliolatry. One could fall into worship of the Bible if you believe there is greater truth and greater words of God to be attained or discovered. But, when we believe the truth about scripture, we know that we can’t possibly pit true reason against it. True reason and objective truth find it’s origin in God, and God has chosen to reveal Himself most fully in Christ Jesus. Where can we know and learn of Him? You guessed it – scripture.

There are even some liberal Christian ministers who conflate the idea of Bible worship to build a case for their own preferred, worldly, wisdom: rejecting the miraculous, the fantastic and supernatural found within the Bible. Some of these include: the creation account, the virgin birth of Jesus, and Jesus’ miracles.

In addition to the distrust for the fantastic, revealed in scripture, it is also proposed that one worships the Bible – rather than Jesus – if you give equal weight to the moral law, given in the Old Testament, as you do the commands that Jesus spoke. Not realizing that Christ not only obeyed the law, but gave us an even greater understanding of it’s demands. Demands that only He could fulfill.

Most of all I answer “no” to the danger of Bible worship, because I don’t see a generation that is so dedicated, so hungry, so enamored with the study of God’s word, that they would even come close to elevating it over even their own opinions and/or comfort. It is quite the contrary, it seems we create any excuse, to not read, study, and memorize scripture. Excuses range from: “I don’t want to be legalistic!”, “I’m not in ministry, so I don’t need to”, “I just have a simple faith”, “I just love Jesus”, or “I feel closer to God through other means” (music/experiences/others teaching the Word). As soon as I see a generation elbow deep in study every day, maybe I’d consider bibliolatry as an eminent threat. But in all reality, the more you study the word of God, the more you will be sanctified, seeing more clearly your sin and thus killing that sin.

Which leads to my final reason for the negative: when you truly know your Bible, you will truly know Jesus. When you truly know Jesus, it means that you are regenerated and gifted with the very Spirit that inspired the text of the Bible. Even if you are accused of bibliolatry, we must remember that apart from scripture, we won’t know Jesus. And if we don’t know Jesus, our problem isn’t just being called an idolater by another person, but BEING an idolater by rejecting Christ – before God – leading to everlasting punishment and torment, the just punishment for the crime.

One caveat to my negative position, is to the positive – yes you can be a bibliolater. You can be a bibliolater by reading scripture to the wrong end – to merit salvation, becoming righteous by your own efforts, feeding your ego, or like Francis Scaeffer says, “religious tripping.” Of course we can approach the Bible and study, sinfully, not seeking truth about God but our own satisfaction in our achievements of knowledge. However, this shouldn’t frighten you out of studying the Bible.

Instead, approach your time in the word humbly. Realizing that it is the very Word of God, that you have access to this text while a vast number around the world doesn’t. In this Book you can learn of salvation and that left to your own power you are blind, deaf, and ultimately dead. Only by God’s action will you be able to see the truth of His word. Only with His Spirit will you be renewed in your mind as you read. So if you are a believer – remember this great, unmerited gift and study – drawing near to God through his word, taking refuge and trusting it; it never changes. And to the believer and unbeliever alike: ask God for eyes to see and ears to hear. He doesn’t turn any away that seek Him, for He drew them in the first place.

Take up and read, memorize, share what the Lord has taught you and give glory to God.

Doctrine of Hell Series: Episode 5 – Punishment, Destruction, and Banishment

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-7nh5w-d4eda6

THE FINAL part (5 of 5) of our Hell series is here! Betsy and Michelle discuss the three major components of eternal conscious torment: punishment, destruction, and banishment. How does the picture of these three components illustrate God’s character, sin, and the atonement? And finally, what can believers hope for after this life? We pray that this has been a helpful excursion (it has for us) into this essential doctrine.

If you haven’t listened to our previous episodes covering various positions on the existence of Hell, make sure you listen to those! Our intro episode is a great place to start and this episode wraps it all up, nicely.

 

Make sure to like, rate, comment, and subscribe! Follow us on Instagram @womenofthetable and Facebook @wottable . You can also support us on patreon, linked in our bio. As a patreon supporter you will have access to bonus content, including episode 4 on Purgatory.

Doctrine of Hell Series: Episode 3 – Annihilationism

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-s2be4-d377c6

Do we *really* go to an afterlife when we die? Would a good God *really* inflict an infinite punishment on finite crimes? What about all those times the terms “destroy” and “perish” are used? What’s the harm in believing that God annihilates those who don’t believe, anyway?

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This week, Betsy and Michelle begin Part 3 of the Doctrine of Hell Series on Annihilationism. This one was new for us! We hope that if you are new to these arguments, you will learn something too!

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Doctrine of Hell series: Episode 2 – Universalism

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-zx9dm-d2cef1

What is universalism? Does everyone actually go to Heaven? Is God unloving for sending one of his own creation to a place of torment? Does adhering to universalism as a position on Hell, affect the other essential doctrines of the faith? What about the Gospel?

Join Michelle and a special guest – her husband, Paul – as they look at universalism, its  implications, and discuss the “faith deconstruction” of one of their favorite YouTubers.

 

If you enjoyed listening. Stay tuned for our next installment of our Hell series, where we take a look at annihilationism. Betsy and Michelle will be reunited after a brief break due to illness.

Make sure to subscribe, like, and review! We appreciate your support and welcome any questions regarding the content of this or any other episode. You can reach us on our instagram page @womenofthetable or at our blog wott.blog

Doctrine of Hell Series: episode 1 – Hell?

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-qzvdm-d1a0a6

This week, Women of the Table begin their first series! This series of episodes will cover the doctrine of Hell. In our introductory episode, Betsy and Michelle discuss: Why talk about Hell? Is Hell an essential Christian doctrine? What are some wrong ways to go about it? We also talk through a few current events from this past week that are quite timely for our current topic. Through our study of this doctrine, we pray you are encouraged to share the Gospel in its entirety, to those in your vicinity.

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If you enjoyed this episode, please share, rate, and subscribe to continue with us on this series.

The Gospel in the Marketplace

This week on Women of the Table we discussed sensationalism. What it means, how it affects our lives, what implications it has on sharing the Gospel, and the like. What this article will touch on are not those things, but how we should respond to these questions: what are we to do now? Are we to ditch social media altogether? Should we never share another article of information with a sensational headline? 

First, I want to remind us all that we have a story that is worthy of all our attention and more sensational (in the good sense of the word) than any fleeting, manipulative, news story could be. We have the Gospel.

Imagine with me for a moment: you’re scrolling through Facebook and something has gone viral! Hundreds of thousands of shares, likes and comments. You see a torture device as the photo and the headline says: only Begotten Son of God crucified by, and for, sinners. Now that is a sensational headline. 

Consider it further, we have a TRUE account that is greater than all the sensational tactics and click-bait articles combined. We have a message that isn’t just for one political party line, a specific nation, a certain type or age – it’s relevant for everyone, because everyone will be held accountable for their rebellion against the Creator and Lord. Everyone needs the Savior to remedy our sin problem.

Now, let’s examine a trustworthy source to find the answers to our previously presented questions:

In a time when God was laying the foundation of His Church, by the Holy Spirit led Apostles and Prophets, we see the Apostle Paul approaching an audience that bears similarities to our own. An audience that had no shortage of gods, philosophies, and new ideas. In Acts 17:16-34 we see Paul disturbed at the idols in Athens, and therefore he goes and reasons with the Jews, the worshipers, and those that were in the marketplace – anyone that happened to be there. What was he reasoning with them about? Verse 18 says, “he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.” Upon hearing these truths they brought him to the Areopagus, where the Areopagus council would discuss religion and philosophy – of which they were the governing body. This led to them hearing the truth of the Gospel, some responding in mockery and some responding in faith.

“When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some began to mock him, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this topic.” At that, Paul left the Areopagus. But some people joined him and believed, including Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others who were with them.” (Acts 17:32-34)

Paul didn’t change his story based on how it would be perceived. He didn’t cower under the Areopagus council’s inquiries. He wasn’t blown back by the pervasive search for the hottest take or newest ideas in Athens. He saw their idol worship and was moved to dialogue. He reasoned and presented the truth of the Gospel.

With this in mind:

1. Should we ditch social media?

When I reread this account of Paul in Athens, I see him approaching the place where ideas are exchanged. The hotbed of ideas and religion and also the place for everyone to gather: the marketplace. While our culture has certainly changed from commonly dialoguing ideas out in the public common areas (because we don’t have public common areas anymore), we can still take this principle and apply it to our culture today. Sadly, but truly, our biggest common area is on social media. We see people plaster their opinions, share what they find important, and even are updated with news on this platform. So, if you are in possession of a social media account, share the Gospel while you have it. Be willing to dialogue with logic, and gentleness, seeking to win souls not arguments. I will also say however, once they started mocking Paul, he left. You don’t have to entertain abuse and there is a block button if you so wish to use it 🙂

I say to use social media as a Gospel opportunity, not to the detriment of personal evangelism – in real life, to a real face. We should be opening our homes and our lives, to those who need the Gospel. As great as social media can be at posting whatever you want – you know from our episode – there is such an overwhelming amount of information, with lots of hype, that many of our attempts to share the truth may be filed away in the reader’s special filing cabinet (the mental trash can). So be welcoming, friendly, and engage with people in real life. Don’t worry if you have a lack in social skills, because social media has dulled us all in that arena.

2. Should we never share another sensational headline?

Now as much as click-bait grinds the gears of any reasonable person, studies have shown that it works. People are going to click on the sensational headline. This is just how the world operates now. While all the media outlets are competing for your attention and your click, you will see more and more sensational headlines. However, Paul writes to the Philippian church something that I think is helpful in answering this question:

“Let your gentleness be apparent to all. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

We know that the Lord is near, so we must be gentle, anxious for nothing, prayerful, and full of thanksgiving. No matter the headline, we can have peace. If you want to share the headline, share it, but don’t forget to share that you have an unfailing hope. Preface your share with a note of thankfulness to God. Be gentle in your sharing and your commentary on a topic. We want to encourage dialogue and reasoning in an age where we have all become keyboard warriors. Once we have opened the door to dialogue, by our kindness, we can truly share the sensational hope we have in Christ. A hope that doesn’t change in circumstance, news story, or with popular culture’s ideas.

I know that this approach to sharing is not the most natural, nor am I the shining example. So, with my own “hot-take” in this article, I say that Christ has given us a hope that won’t stay hidden. He will advance and grow His church. Our small acts of faithfulness can be used by Him.

I pray that as you go about your common places you preach Christ and His resurrection, the need for repentance and faith in Christ alone for right standing before God. 

In Christ,

Michelle

All Aboard the Hype Train!!

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-8w35j-d0aea8

WOTT’S BEST EPISODE YET! YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT THEY SAY!! IT IS LIFE CHANGING AND YOU SIMPLY WON’T BE THE SAME! Just kidding, you will probably remain the same, but tag along with Betsy and Michelle as they discuss the power of sensationalism, how we can become desensitized to truly sensational things, how sensationalism can affect evangelism, and ultimately their disdain for click-bait. CHOO-CHOO!

Head Covering: Principle or Custom?

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-2xqgg-cfcd72

In 1 Corinthians 11, we see Paul give instructions for praying and prophesying in the gathering of the church. These instructions include what’s on, or off, our heads. Many faithful teachers have disagreed on the continued use of head coverings. Is it a principle that transcends time and culture? Or is it a custom of that age, subject to change in application to fit the current culture? Betsy and Michelle struggle together through this depthy passage of scripture – taking stances for themselves and providing both cultural and transcendent principles behind it. Join us at the table, bring your Bible, and have more clarity on whether this passage presents a custom or principle!

 

Make sure to subscribe and like/rate. If you are blessed and want to partner with us, you can support us on patreon at patreon.com/womenofthetable

 

Let us know your thoughts on this rich passage of scripture!

 

Clarifications:

Oops! Michelle and Betsy were having so much fun and forgot to discuss consistently handling scripture when it comes to head covering and women preachers. Are we to handle both of these portions of scripture the same? You may find two articles below investigating both sides of the argument. We pray you think through this portion of scripture and come to a Spirit-led conviction that glorifies God.

 

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/should-women-wear-head-coverings/

 

https://www.headcoveringmovement.com/articles/should-women-wear-head-coverings-a-response-to

 

Below are the sources we spoke of and used while studying this passage on head covering:

 

https://www.headcoveringmovement.com

 

https://www.gty.org/library/bibleqnas-library/QA0219/head-coverings-for-women

 

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/principle-or-custom/

 

https://www.monergism.com/topics/gender-issues/headcoverings