I have long suspected that some of our creedal Christian friends have inadvertently begun worshiping the Bible itself in place of, or at least in addition to, the living God. Recently Aaron Shafovaloff (of the Fluffy Bunny Nice Nice Club) seems to have confirmed that suspicion for me in his case at least.
We were discussing how he knows the Bible is the word of God over at his blog and he kept saying things that made no sense at all to me. I kept asking things like “Did God tell you it is true or not”? And he kept saying things like “No, not in the way Mormonism talks about this â€œyesâ€ answer.” Well his last comment finally started clearing up this issue for me. Here are some of his quotes:
Geoff, you are only putting more nails into the coffin and are reaffirming over and over again to me that you donâ€™t truly believe in the full inspiration of scripture. If scripture is Godâ€™s very word, then it has the very same power that Godâ€™s word has. God created and upholds the universe â€œby the word of his powerâ€ (Hebrews 1:3). God says, â€œlet there beâ€¦â€ and there simply is what he commands into being. Paul, who understands the â€œword of [Godâ€™s] powerâ€, draws a parallel between creation and conversion in 2 Corinthians 4:6:
For God, who said, â€œLet light shine out of darkness,â€ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
In response to me asking “Isnâ€™t God the one telling people the Bible is true through his Holy Spirit?” he said:
Yes, in scripture, which is Godâ€™s word, God is â€œtellingâ€ things, and this â€œtellingâ€ is authored by the Holy Spirit himself. Again, Geoff, the real decisive issue here is that you donâ€™t truly believe scripture is Godâ€™s very word, his very â€œtellingâ€. If you did, you wouldnâ€™t be asking questions like this.
In response to my question about if he thought the Bible was somehow personified and separate from God and thus could “magically” speak for itself he said:
So to mock the idea of the power of scripture as Godâ€™s very word as mere â€œmagicâ€ or idolatrous is unsettling indeed. It shows you really donâ€™t believe in scripture as Godâ€™s very word to begin with, or at least that you donâ€™t believe in the power of Godâ€™s word at all, which is probably the deeper root issue related to oneâ€™s view of Godâ€™s nature.
And when I asked “If God didnâ€™t tell you the Bible is true who did? Are you really saying the Bible is somehow personified and thus somehow independent of God?”, he responded:
Iâ€™m saying that the Bible is the personal word of God. God literally â€œtellsâ€ you things in scripture. â€œFor God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.â€ (John 3:16) That is literally Godâ€™s living, active, personal word.
I must admit that I am blown away by this for some reason. I shouldn’t be because he hasn’t been hiding his feelings on the matter in our discussions. I suppose these notions are so foreign to me that I just couldn’t see them. He really believes the Bible is somehow living. To him it is not a collection of recorded revelations from God to prophets; to him it is, you know, alive. As he said, to him it is living and active.
I can’t for the life of me figure out how his view isn’t textbook idolatry. (No pun intended). I mean, it seems to me that he basically sees the Bible as a living member of the Godhead sitting on his shelf.
I have occasionally cringed to hear Mormons regurgitate lines like “We talk to God through prayer and God talks to us through the scriptures”. I think that is utter poppycock. God talks to us primarily through his Spirit. One of the things he does through his Spirit is confirm the veracity of revelations other people have experienced as recorded in scriptures. But Aaron has taken that concept of “God talks to us through the scriptures” to new and dizzying heights.
So how common is this sort of view of the Bible? Is Aaron’s view considered extreme even among evangelicals or is it the norm? To what degree have you seen something like scripture worship happening in Mormonism?