If you showed up expecting help with deciding on bags at the grocery store, you may be surprised to find out this post is actually on the use of bound, printed paper editions of the Bible verses an app on digital, plastic phones, particularly within worship services. Below are several reasons why I believe paper over plastic is better.
- Lack of Reverence
v Let’s face it, your phone is NOT the Bible. It may contain the Bible, but it also likely contains some weird apps. Think this is too fundamentalist? When was the last time you threw away a Bible, or even burned one? Phones…they’re discarded everyday, incinerated, recycled, broken down for parts. There is a difference, we need to recognize it.
2. Lack of Witness
v Carrying a phone says nothing, carrying the Bible says a lot. Think about a time when you’ve seen a person in a coffee shop with God’s Word open before them. Quite a testimony, no? Now think about how many times you’ve seen someone on their cell phone in the same places. Pretty common and nothing distinct or noticeable about it.
3. Inability to view text in paginal context
v Often you need to see how the passage fits within the context, those larger sections before and after. Phones tend to limit the view to several verses.
4. Open to Distraction
v I don’t know about you, but I’ve never opened my Bible to read it and had a text message show up on the page. In other words, God’s Word does not have your full attention when facing the distractions that come through your phone.
5. Open to Temptation
v Too often, particularly among youth, using a phone as their primary Bible reader gives the appearance of reading Scripture, but there remains the temptation to play games, text, etc. instead of following along with their Bible [app].
6. Over-reliance on a digital index
v Bible Sword Drill anyone? How is anyone supposed to become familiar with navigating God’s Word, knowing where a particular book or passage is, relevant to other books and passages, if there is a constant reliance upon the Scripture index in the phone app? It simply doesn’t produce foundational knowledge of navigating the Bible.
7. Lack of paginal memorization
v Maybe this one is just me, but I have generally found that it helps me to remember a particular verse or theme based on where it occurs on a page. For instance if I’m reading the Gospel of John and I can’t remember what chapter the woman at the well was recorded in, but I know it was at the top of the right page, it may make it easier to find again or help relate it to Chapter 4, where it occurs. Just another helpful tool.
8. Hindrance to in-depth study
v This may not always be the case, as many of today’s apps come with commentaries, cross-references, study notes, etc. while not all of today’s paper Bibles contain even cross-references. I have no real scientific data to back this up, but I wonder if people who use digital Bibles in a service or study are more or less likely to view a footnote or cross reference or even related study notes on a particular passage.
9. Distraction to fellow worshippers
v This might be another “me problem”, but I find the bright white glow of a cell phone to be a distraction. Additionally, why do we feel the need to look at the person’s phone to find out what they’re looking at, be it the Bible, a text, etc.
10. Sets a bad example
v I suppose this could’ve fit under #2, but this is more so related to inside the church. Kids watch and mimic adult behavior. It would seem a little concerning that using a Bible app as a primary reader in services may send mixed signals to children. Looking at your phone will have little to no positive impact on them other than creating the child-like curiosity of “What’s in there” and “I want one”. Open up a Bible and have them see you reading it…..and you may just get the same questions.
Bible apps certainly have their place and can be a useful tool, but I simply fail to see any benefit for it being a primary reader, particularly in a church or Bible study environment. I for one use my ESV Bible app on daily basis to look up particular verses quickly and when I don’t have a Bible on me. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I think there is something to be said about carrying a Bible under your arm versus a phone in your hand.
Yes this was opinionated, what are your thoughts? Pro or con Bible on phone apps in worship services or Bible studies?