Ok, I confess…..I really like technology. For a guy who carried a pager in his early twenties, the things I see now are just amazing! I, like you, am one of millions of consumers of really cool gadgets like smart phones, tablets and BlueTooth headphones, and like many of you, I have no clue how they are made and no concept of how to fix them. I just really appreciate them. Not only is a lot of today’s technology just cool, it can also be very helpful in ministry.
That being said, here is my next confession: Despite how much I like technology, I still have to use a hardcopy / print Bible.
Do not misunderstand me, I am not against Bible apps. I have great Bible apps on my phone and they are awesome. Some of my favorites are:
ESV Free Bible App
ESV Study Bible App (complete with all the theological notes, etc.)
Reformed Study Bible App (This is a GREAT app. Lots of great theology articles are included)
Logos Bible Software App
Yes, I have plenty of electronic Bibles and references on my large phone (which serves as my tablet as well), but when it comes to studying and preaching, I need my dead tree version.
Here are three reasons why I will not trade my hardcopy exclusively for a digital Bible:
I can own It
When I have my hardcopy Bible, I am reminded that this is MY Bible. I can own it. I can share it. I can give it away. I can leave it to my children or my grandchildren someday. I really like it when I am about to walk out the door and one of my kids ask, “Daddy, do you have your Bible?”
Maybe it’s a generation thing, but for me, because it can be seen, touched and handled, it feels important. God’s word is central to my life. My physical Bible reminds me of that. Sitting here tonight, in my home office, with my Bible on my desk, I have a visual reminder of my true treasure, that one paramount priority; to know God through His word.
I Can Focus.
I need my hardcopy Bible, so I can focus. The great thing about a timeless printed Bible is that it is a single task item, and I need that. In a day where I have instant access to my email, to texts, to world news, to my calendar, to pictures from our family trips, and my continuing journey to break my Temple Run record, I do not need anymore distractions. Yes, maybe I should be more disciplined, and I will work on that. Nevertheless, I have to say, there is something so sweet to my soul when it is just me and my Bible – no distractions.
I Can Remember
When I hold my Bible (especially when preaching) I tend to remember two very important truths:
First, I remember that not everyone has a Bible, and I am so blessed to be holding God’s word. It is hard to believe in this day and age, but there are reportedly many parts of the world that do not have access to the scriptures. There are places in the world where it would be considered a crime, punishable by fines, imprisonment, or worse, to have a Bible. For me, this is important to remember. When I hold my Bible, I remember that I am holding something so powerful and so life changing that nations past and present want it as far away as possible.
Second, when I hold my printed Bible, and I feel the weight of this ancient truth in my hands, I remember the price that was paid by others that I could have a Bible in English. In our day of convenient online purchasing of any shape or style Bible we would like, we would do well to call to mind that blood that was spilled by courageous men in the past. Men who were so persuaded that everyone should have a Bible they could read, that they gave everything (up to and including their very lives) to make their dreams a reality.
Remember a man named William Tyndale (1494-1536)? Tyndale’s life was utterly changed when he discovered the doctrine of justification by faith while reading Erasmus’ Greek New Testament. Tyndale, who was a master linguist, knew the best thing he could do would be to produce an English version of the New Testament, so that many others could read these great scriptural truths. He would pay for this passion with his life. The English New Testament project was not welcome in England, so Tyndale had to hide out in Antwerp to work on his projects. He was eventually arrested and declared a heretic. Refusing to recant, Tyndale was simultaneously strangled and burned in the town square.
Tyndale was not the only brave soul who faced peril for the cause of Bible translation, but his story resonates with me as I hold my Bible today.
In the end, it’s not the binding, the font, or even the medium that matters, but the words. This is the Word of our Creator, and while it might not matter to Him whether you read a dead tree version or a digital copy, it does matter to Him that you read it, that you understand it, and that you treasure it. It matters to Him, it mattered to Tyndale and countless others, and I hope after taking these points into consideration, that it matters even more to you!