Home Christian News Can the Bible Be an Idol? Controversial Article Draws Criticism

Can the Bible Be an Idol? Controversial Article Draws Criticism

John Pavlovitz Bible

A 2015 article became the subject of sharp criticism when RELEVANT Magazine published it to their site on Tuesday. The article is written by John Pavlovitz and is entitled “Have We Made the Bible Into an Idol?

John Pavlovitz is a former Methodist megachurch pastor and vocal advocate for justice, equality, and diversity. Pavlovitz currently identifies as a Unitarian Universalist. It is unclear if he identified as such at the writing of the article. 

Pavlovitz is known for his provocative blog posts and strongly worded tweets. On Wednesday (Oct 27), Pavlovitz tweeted, “If you’re a Trump supporter and you think you’re going to challenge me to a ‘Biblical debate’ save it. If you’d truly read the Bible you’d recognize the golden idol you’re bowing down to. And if you really cared about the teachings of Jesus you wouldn’t be a Trump supporter.” Later in the thread, he promoted his new book, If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk.

Pavlovitz Argues That Christians Often Turn the Bible Into an Idol

In the 2015 article, Pavlovitz writes, “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it. You’ve heard that phrase before. You’ve read it on bumper stickers. You may have even said it a time or two. It’s an odd little religious mantra that perfectly captures the strange, often paradoxical relationship we modern Christians have with our mysterious ancient text.”

“Rather than admit and wrestle with the obvious complexities we face in historical context, writing style and author intent, too many Christians simply hide behind some incendiary, line-drawing, black and white, all-or-nothing rhetoric,” Later in the article, Pavlovitz refers to the Bible as “a fourth addition to the Trinity” in the minds of some evangelicals. 

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Pavlovitz goes on to argue that the “real problem is that too many of us are choosing to simply deify the Bible as Divinity itself; something the Bible itself never asks us to do. It is not, as we so often mischaracterize it, ‘The Word of God’ from John 1:1, Jesus is.”

“The Bible and God can never ever be the exact same thing, and if we can’t honestly admit that, we’ll never be able to have meaningful discussion about either,” Pavlovitz concluded. 

Pavlovitz’s Words Draw Criticism

When RELEVANT posted a link to this article on Twitter, many were quick to criticize it.

Jonathan Leeman, the editorial director for 9Marks, an organization founded by Mark Dever to resource pastors to build healthy churches, responded to the article on Twitter by saying, “Since the ‘bibliolatry’ thing is bit of an old chestnut (remember how the Emergent guys said it?)”

In a Twitter thread, Jonathan Leeman offered several comments. “I have literally never met someone who worships the Bible or makes it an idol…Sincerely, I’m not sure what it means to worship the Bible.” 

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Dale Chamberlain (M.Div) is the Content Manager for ChurchLeaders.com. He is also a blogger and podcaster who is passionate about helping people tackle ancient truths in everyday settings. He lives in Southern California with his wife Tamara and their two sons.