Question: The Bible is important to us personally; we memorize whole chapters of it for truth and meditate on them (as God in Scripture directs us to) for deeper understanding. In this way, the Bible is of great help. But I have to oppose those who teach that the Bible is essential, is vital for anything, especially for salvation. Enoch and Noah walked with God and didn’t even have Genesis. Jesus informed us that His sheep hear His voice, as Enoch, Noah, Daniel, Job, and innumerable others did—and still do, since the Lord does not change. “Bibliolatry,” the belief that the written word is more important, more to be sought for answers, than the Living Word who gave it, is very prevalent in America’s churches. Have you addressed this?
Response: There is little danger of “Bibliolatry” being seen today, although the invented term itself bears a lot in common with other inventions such as “homophobia.” In both cases, each word seems very well designed to pursue an agenda but leads us far away from the truth.
There are other utilitarian sayings, such as “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good,” which have been crafted by the adversary to sound clever and to divert attention away from what should really be considered. Actually, if a person is truly “heavenly minded,” he or she will be of immense earthly good!
It is true that Enoch, Noah, Job, and others didn’t “have Genesis” in their hand. They did, however, walk with God, and it was His Word upon which they fed. There is no logical, compelling reason to doubt that very early on godly men began to record man’s interaction with His Creator.
Skeptics like to argue that writing itself didn’t widely exist in the time of Abraham. This belief came into popularity in the middle of the 1800s, when the liberal march of heresy was well underway. Liberal “Christian” college teachers put forth the notion that the Bible came after centuries of oral tradition because no one could write in the time of Moses. This folly has been destroyed by evidence of writing that took place 1,800 years before Moses. In addition, linguistic scholars have noted the archaic phrases in the book of Job, and there are also “more references [in Job] to creation, the flood, and other primeval events than any book of the Bible except Genesis” (Henry M. Morris, in “Introduction to the Book of Job,” The Henry Morris Study Bible, Green Forest, AR. Master Books, 2012). Bible scholars have a number of other reasons for asserting that the writing of Job preceded Moses’ writing Genesis. Simply put, the book of Job is old.
Yes, we memorize and meditate upon the Bible but not just for “deeper understanding.” Joshua:1:8 tells us, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
Many passages in the Old Testament establish the fact that the Scriptures are to be the basis of how we live our lives: “And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth” (Dt 11:20-21).
You say that the Bible is “not essential?” The Lord Jesus Christ has a far different view. Jesus confronted the two disciples who were on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-27). He rebuked them for their failure to believe the Word of God. According to the narrative, “...beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (v. 27). In other words, He taught them the essentials.
“Not essential?” Then why did the Lord inspire Paul to write Romans:10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”? This clearly is speaking of more than what some call the “Living Word of God” as opposed to the written word of God. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom:10:14).
There is very little evidence that a presumed Bibliolatry “is very prevalent in America’s churches.” On the contrary, we are seeing (as we have documented) an increasing rejection of Scripture in favor of mysticism, emotionalism, and “every wind of doctrine” (Eph:4:14). Many self-proclaimed prophets are claiming to have had great spiritual experiences and warn those who would test their words against the Scriptures to “not touch the Lord’s anointed.”
This is what we should be concerned about in these days. The Prophet Amos warned of a time that sounds very much like today: “Behold, the days come, says the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD” (Am 8:11).
Knowing Jesus is absolutely vital, but how do we know that it is the real Jesus unless we are able to discern between the genuine and the counterfeit? “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him [i.e., you gladly embrace him]” (2 Cor:11:4).
May the Lord give us His balance and the discernment He has promised in His Word.