In the absence of a visible God, the temptation is always near to make a god of whatever is visible and related in some proximate way to the real thing. At its best we call this symbolism….
The inherent risk in symbolism is that the symbol becomes a substitute for what it is meant to represent. The means becomes an end in itself, and the worship and devotion that the end requires, when devoted merely to the means, become a form of idolatry and an exercise in fraud. The history of belief is, in the West, replete with instances of this conflict….
To give a book the reverence due God, and to submit the Bible to the sovereignty of one’s own reading of it, is to come dangerously close to idolatry… The Bible is not God, nor is it a substitute for God, and to treat it as if it were God or a surrogate of God is to treat it in the very way that it itself condemns over and over again.
–Peter J. Gomes
Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the sages of old; rather, seek what they sought.