Essentially I’m writing to big up the Good Book – the real, tangible paper version of it!
Pretty much everyone I know (who owns a smartphone at least) has the Bible on their phone. Myself included! My personal preference is the ESV app – which is seriously slick. However, I’m also quite partial to the Bible.is app cos it actually reads the Bible to you, which is great if you’re busy doing the washing up etc. I also refer to my Olive Tree app from time to time as it contains the Behemoth of all Bibles – the ESV Study Bible on there! And I am well aware that there there are countless other versions that people like to use, such as YouVersion. It is truly awesome having Scripture in your pocket ready to rock and roll straight away. It’s convenience is one of the greatest assets of having pixelated Scriptures in your pocket. The search functions are also class and it is most definitely cool being able to read in the dark e.g. in bed!
There is also a lot to like about having the Bible on an iPad too. Indeed it’s quite remarkable how many pastors and preachers seem to be stepping into their pulpits these days with an iPad under their arm! I guess having your Bible AND your notes in one place is kinda handy. But all that said, I refuse to put down my trusty hard copy in order to trade it in for pixels. Sure I love my ESV app and intend to keep using it regularly. But I wouldn’t swap it for my old school hard copy version in a million years!
Do I think Scripture on paper is more spiritual than the pixelated version?
Absolutely not – truth is truth!
So why make the case for paper over pixels?
For what they’re worth, here’s my 6 reasons:
1. It’s MY Bible
OK, so this one might sound a bit crazy to start with, but my Bible is MY Bible. What do I mean by that? Well it’s mine…it’s unlike anyone else’s copy. OK, so their Bible may be the same translation, colour and the same style as mine but it’s not the same one. Just like you and I might have the same kind of shoes, mine fit me better than yours because I’ve been wearing them in. Similarly, my Bible (which is battered by the way) bears the marks of my life. It’s my thumb grease on the pages, my blood (literally) on some of the pages, my coffee spillages and even my son’s doodles!! I love the description of the Bible as a sword (Ephesians 6 + Hebrews 4) because it rightly describes the Word of God as a weapon with which we fight! My Bible is my sword in my hand and we’ve fought many battles together. Whereas my smartphone pixels are no different to yours or anyone else’s. It just doesn’t feel as…personal.
2. I know my way around it
One of the reasons that I don’t like leaving Wales is that as soon as I cross the bridge my internal sat-nav goes AWOL and I’m rendered pretty much clueless as to where the dickens I’m going. Sure, I know roughly how to get to London, Birmingham and Manchester, but ask me to get find a specific region or street in one of those cities and you’re asking the wrong man. However, South Wales is a completely different story! I’ve lived here for 37 years and I just know my way around. It’s the same thing with my Bible. The longer I have spent with it in my hands to do personal devotions, sermon prep, preaching or sitting under someone else’s ministry, the more familiar I am with it’s layout, it’s hidden gems…it’s regions! When I want to find a certain verse or story I know precisely where to look, not just by citing chapter and verse, but actually where it lays on the page (which side, which column, top bottom, middle etc.) Ask me to quickly locate many of these hidden treasures on my smartphone, however, and I’m like a Welsh tourist in Tokyo – no matter where I scroll – I’m dazed and confused!
3. It reminds me where I’m going
I take my smartphone pretty much everywhere with me – even the toilet! (Too much information?) It’s up there with my keys and wallet as the 3 must-grabs when I leave the house. But I’m as likely to grab those things popping down to the Spar as I am going to gather with the church. However, when I leave my home to gather around God’s Word with God’s people I am persuaded that there is something significant about grabbing the Bible as I leave. It reminds me of the significance of what I’m doing and where I’m going and it gets my mind ready to engage with God’s Word.
4. It’s honest
Come on – when you’re sat there in church gazing at your screen…it’s not only the Bible you’re checking out is it? You’re browsing your emails, checking how your team is doing, updating your Facebook status (or tweeting about how boring the sermon is!) You wouldn’t pull out a lap top, a desk diary or a sports magazine while the pastor’s pontificating, but your phone is sneaky cos you can get away with it!
On a similar note I have found that doing quiet times on my smartphone at home doesn’t always help in training my kids. I have been sat on the couch reading scripture on my phone but my kids are convinced that I’m tweeting, reading the news or playing Temple Run! Now this isn’t a point about saving face, it’s a point about modelling the gospel. When I’m sat reading my Bible (the hard copy) my kids are in no doubt that I’m listening to God’s Word. As a man who wants to show his children what it means to follow Jesus, I find that letting them see that I’m starting the day with Jesus and ‘connecting’ with His Word at various points throughout the day is healthy for our whole family.
5. It NEVER runs out of batteries
I hope this point kinda speaks for itself!
6. There are far less distractions
One of the things that I find most frustrating with mobile technology is the world of distractions that comes with it. Whether it’s the SMS notification popping up, the ‘ping’ of the email dropping into the inbox, or the breaking news headline bursting onto the screen, technology has a nasty habit of diverting our attention away from whatever it is that we should be doing. And even if we are disciplined enough to turn off all notifications or flick it onto flight mode, there’s still the games, the photo editing and the host of other fun features that seem to vie for our attention at the most inappropriate moments. If you are scatter-brained (like me) this can make studying scripture a disjointed, superficial exercise. The hard copy of your Bible, however, is far less diverting (there’s only so much fun you can have with those maps of Paul’s missionary journeys!) In fact I’d even go so far as to say that rather than distracting, I find my getting stuck into my Good Book totally engrossing…
…when I remember to turn my phone off LOL!!!
So there you have it – Hankey’s 6 points why paper is better than pixels! Hope I didn’t come across like some techno-hating Luditte. But I hope it got you thinking about how you engage with the precious gift of God’s Word. Feel free to post a comment and let me know what you think!
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3 v 16)