Is there a potential downside to the digital trend in bibles on tablet PC’s, smartphones, and eReaders? This week, I’ve discussed (albeit on a surface level) the great benefits we now have living in the digital age. This includes the availability of bibles and related study tools that are freely ready for downloading, most at no cost to the reader. So what could be bad about all of this? It really depends on who you talk to. There are actually some people out there who have said that a digital bible isn’t really the inspired Word of God. I guess you have to have a “hard” copy in your hands for it to really work for you. I don’t understand that line of thought but perhaps there is one grain of truth in that thinking that is purely unintended. That is this: The digital revolution has the potential for stunting your spiritual growth. You might say no it doesn’t but let’s consider a few of the “negative” aspects of digital bible reading…
1) Reading the Bible is much more than checking off boxes on a reading plan. I’ve went back on forth on reading plans. I like the organization but truthfully, they are constricting. Miss a day and you get discouraged. Miss a week and you give up. I’ll have more to say on this later but understand that a reading plan is not much more than surface level stuff. If you really want God’s Word to change you, there has to be more.
2) Depth of study. Digital tools give us flexibility in how we interact with scripture but are we really using them to study or do we use them as a kind of internet search to find ‘verses that talk about adultery’? Giving time to let God’s Word speak to you is the only true path to life change (Colossians 3:16).
3) Personalizing it. Today’s newer online tools have the ability to make notes, highlight text, and bookmark your reading. Still, there’s something about underlining verses in a paper bible, writing notes in the margin, highlighting text, and using special little “glyphs” to note your reading that make reading from a “hard” copy bible something that digital will never reproduce. For years, I’ve put lightning bolts, light bulbs, question marks, and candles in the margin of my bible to mark specific ideas or thoughts as I’ve read. It doesn’t matter what they mean…You might have your own system but what it does is make your bible YOURS. My kids have looked at my bible and laughed at the things they’ve seen but they have also questioned me on certain areas where I’ve written things down. One day, it might be something that will bless them or a great-great-great-great grandchild I will never meet in this life.
In the end, digital tools are great. I use them all the time. But I’ve never allowed them to replace my traditional paper tools that I still use for my in depth study of God’s Word. You will have to determine what works for you and allow God to change your heart with the daily infusion of His Word in your life. I welcome any thoughts you might want to add on this topic.