Scripture gives direct commands many biblicists ignore, such as "greet one another with a holy kiss," or "wash one another's feet." While many Christians greet with a kiss due to culture, and some perform feet-washing, biblicists generally do not follow these commands.
Meanwhile, biblicists feel strongly about pre-marital sex and abortion, yet Scripture lacks direct instructions about these issues. Biblicists may respond that these explicit commands are culturally rooted, thus not applicable today. But biblicists do not fairly and consistently appeal to cultural relativism, which undermines biblicism.
This is why I took issue with complementarians and biblical gender roles. Smith asserts interpretation ends up an ad hoc process (perhaps much like gender roles):
Various biblical commands are relaxed or tightened without a clear underlying rationale or justification, depending significantly, it seems, on the particular cultural and political interests and discomfort of those doing the relaxing and tightening. In other words, biblicists very often engage in what we might call “uneven and capriciously selective literalism.” Sometimes the Bible says what it says and must be obeyed. Other times the obvious meaning of the passage is relativized by historical and cultural considerations. And it is often not clear for any given interpreter or across different interpreters which is which, when, and why.
Smith then cites to troubling passages, on which hardly anyone attempts to sermonize (Phineas, anyone?). For example, Paul furthers an ethnic stereotype in Titus 1:12-13: "Cretans are always liars." It's difficult to find a take-home, prescriptive message from these puzzling passages.
Another interesting point is that biblicists use circular logic when using Scripture to validate its own authority. If this isn't problematic, what Scripture says about itself does not validate biblicism. To make the Bible support biblicism, dubious logic is required, along with an anachronistic view of Scripture.
Smith echoes what Timothy Beal points out in The Rise and Fall of the Bible: the early church had a different understanding of what "the Bible" was. When referring to "Scripture," they meant what is now the Old Testament. The New Testament didn't exist yet.
So, while the New Testament described Scripture as God-breathed, it's quite the leap to assume "the Bible, down to the details of its words, consists of and is identical with God’s very own words written in human language. Those are not necessarily the same thing." That biblicism cannot be supported by the Bible "suggests sociologically that biblicism is actually not driven by its purported, manifest interest, but by other latent concerns, motives, and interests[.]"
Smith's last point is that biblicism sets up young believers for crises once they realize biblicism is untenable. When non-biblicists point out problems, young Christians may not know how to respond. Sociologically, once they're outside of their homogeneous tribe and in college, these young believers may feel they must reject their faith outright. Biblicism sets up expectations that are impossible to meet.
Biblicism "not only makes young believers vulnerable to being disabused of their naive acceptance of that theory but it also often has the additional consequence of putting their faith commitments at risk." It's ironic that a sect of Christianity that purports to take faith and the Bible so seriously sets up its young people for failure when they experience the world for themselves.
This reminded me of my first year of college, an experience I shared here a few years ago. At a "secular" university with liberal professors, I joined two campus Christian organizations:
...both groups tended to have a “those-evil-professors-will-taint-your-mind” mentality toward the university. They were simply diametrically opposed to the university, and the prevailing attitude was that of blanket rejection of anything not explicitly conservative, evangelical Christian. [...] In our Bible studies and Friday lunches, we were taught systematic, carefully laid-out answers to the criticisms that “those professors” were going to level against our faith...
So, I hunkered down in political and theological conservatism in my first year of college, holding tightly to my beliefs. I was certain that I was biblical and right, and my faith grew into a reactionary one. ...[T]hings were black or white, good or bad, Christian or non-Christian...
...I immediately labeled as non-Christian anyone who didn’t fit my conception of “Christian” (meaning conservative, evangelical...Republican). Therefore, I blocked off any learning from people I had labeled, building up my defenses so my faith couldn’t be jeopardized.