Bibliolatry: The Ultimate Form of Cherry-Picking Bible Verses

Bibliolatry: The Ultimate Form of Cherry-Picking Bible Verses May 14, 2022

Some time ago, I heard the word “Bibliolatry” in a discussion video between Christian apologetics Mike Winger and Alisa Childers. My first impression, just from the connotation alone, was that “Bibliolatry” means to literally “worship the Bible”. Now, I think it instead refers to Christians cherry-picking Bible verses for their agendas.

Defining Bibliolatry

This segment from Alisa Childer’s discussion with Mike Winger taught me about the word “Bibliolatry”:

I wholeheartedly agree with Mike and Alisa. No Christian should ever consciously “worship” the Bible. Like Mike says, the crucial thing is to respect what Jesus commands us to do in His Word.

So what exactly qualifies as “Bibliolatry”, then?

I think it’s another way to reference Christians who pick and choose what to believe out of the Bible.

With a Cherry On Top!

Here’s an excellent video I found by Christian YouTuber Halidom addressing the issue of Christians who cherry-pick Bible verses:

I agree with Halidom, it can be really difficult not cherry-picking at times. With multiple different views in the Bible, specifically among the four Gospels, this can be tricky.

She gave a great example of contradiction in verses by pointing out one such instance in 1 Corinthians. Those who say women shouldn’t preach use 1 Corinthians 14 as support. However, Halidom notes that just a few chapters earlier, the text also gives guidelines for both men and women on how to properly prophesy.

Halidom pointed out that cherry-picking can also come from willfully ignoring uncomfortable passages. Isn’t that ironic? I’ve done the same thing when facing certain passages in the Old Testament.

On top of her great analysis of what it means to cherry-pick, Halidom also gave a deliciously ironic example of general cherry-picking. Like she said in her video, we Christians can’t call the Bible a “rule book” while refusing to obey every single command in its pages. There are so many Old Testament rules that we refuse to obey, as it is.

It’s a tragedy that some Christians seek to justify legalistic, harmful ideologies nonetheless.

Twisting the Bible to Justify Abuse

No Christian should ever use Bible verses to self-authorize perpetuating cruelty against somebody else. Even then, both spouses and parents seem to believe that God turns a blind eye to them abusing the people trusting them.

Christian Spousal Abuse

Here’s an excellent video on Christian spousal abuse by Dr. Charleys Lyons:

I appreciate Dr. Lyons calling out “Christians” who use the Bible to justify their cruelty against others. He did a great job breaking down the Bible verses used by abusive spouses to justify their abuse of their partners. It’s so important that he reminded us in this video that verbal abuse can quickly escalate into physical abuse.

This quote stands out to me the most:

“…But do not confuse being patient and forgiving with a justification for you to be abused by this other person.”

-Dr. Charles Lyons

Dr. Lyons references this verse from Ephesians:

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

He says that this verse beautifully sums up the Christian spirit. However, he also warns us to not let an abuser use this or similar passages to coerce us into accepting abusive treatment.

While we’re called to forgive one another, abusers can’t demand that we blindly ignore their unrepentant sins against us.

Christian Parental Abuse

Unfortunately, there are “Christian” parents who seemingly don’t care about what Jesus said about those who make little ones stumble (Matthew 18:6). One of the most horrific examples I’ve come across is this following instance, where a little girl named Lydia was beaten to death by her parents.

Content/Trigger Warning: This video directly mentions an instance of “Christian” parents killing a child through physical abuse. Towards the end of this video, they show images of the wounds sustained by Lydia’s older sister.

Lydia, a 7-year-old child, was beaten to death by her “Christian” parents. According to the commentator in this video, her corpse was comparable to an earthquake or bombing victim.

It’s openly surmised in this video that Michael and Debi Pearl’s teachings were a direct inspiration for this murder. The Pearls run their ministry No Greater Joy, through which they purport a dangerous misinterpretation of disciplinary Bible verses. Michael wrote the book To Train Up a Child, which influenced Lydia’s foster parents to violently beat her to the point of death.

Think of the Children! No, Really.

What’s there to say about Christians who think this is ok? Yes, kids need to be disciplined. Absalom, the manipulative son of King David, is a prime example of what happens when parents don’t admonish their child’s wrongdoings (2 Samuel 15).

But how can any Christian feel justified to say that they’re authorized to beat children to this degree? Do they really think for a second that Jesus applauds this? How is this not self-righteousness in action?

Ah, but clearly, they’ve “followed the Bible to a ‘T'”, right? Well, I guess these verses don’t matter then:

“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

Yes, the Bible tells us to honor our parents. But it also warns parents to avoid mistreating their children.

As somebody who dealt with an emotionally abusive step-dad at one point, Colossians 3:21 means the world to me. For the sake of all children, I wish that these verses were taught just as much as others.

Making an Idol Out of Dogma

Obsessing over verses that justify your worldview is idolatry. Instead of listening to the instructions of the Holy Spirit, you harden your heart against mercy and listen solely to your self-righteous views.

One of my all-time favorite verses is this one:

“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)

Jesus references this same verse during one of His talks in the New Testament:

“Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13).

May we all take care not to be like the Pharisees who opposed Jesus. They said that they followed the Law to the letter, but they willfully refused to practice mercy towards others.

Christians who use the Bible to justify their sins against others are just like those Pharisees. What’s the point of saying that you “follow the Bible” when you violate its commands to be merciful and loving?

Jesus spoke clever words to undermine the self-righteous. Anybody who claims to be righteous without practicing love and mercy is kidding themselves. Because if there’s no love behind what we Christians do, what’s the point (1 Corinthians 13)?

Featured Image by jclk8888/Pixabay

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