It is no secret that electronic device are taking over our society. It is also no surprise either with how efficient they can be, we are now living in paperless world! The world of technology has changed the way we communicate, schedule/plan, and even exercise our spiritual disciplines. Many today come to church with iPads and Kindles instead of Bibles and notebooks. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for some people but this is one area that technology has invaded that I’m not too thrilled about.
Some may cry hypocrisy since I do a lot of reading from a Kindle. Also, my sermon preparation heavily depends on my use of a computer (from research to manuscripting/outlining). Still, I’m not lobbying for a hard nosed commitment to hardback Christian books or leisure. My concern here is the reading of Scripture from an electronic device. I’d like to provide a few brief reasons to use a physical Bible for the exercise of Bible intake.
Reason #1: Less Distractions. Yes, I do believe that reading from an actual Bible is less distracting. Reading from your phone exposes you to a plethora of other concerns. Notifications from social media, email, text message, and apps are all distractions when attempting to give concentrated effort to the spiritual discipline of Bible intake. Perhaps people would argue that this can be overcome through self-discipline. That may be true, but why subject yourself to the temptation of distraction when it can be done away with by reading a physical Bible.
Reason #2: Memorization. The use of a physical Bible aids in memorization. Physically seeing where the verse lies on a page and where it is relative to the entirety of the book helps with familiarization. Even if you cannot verbatim repeat the passage you’re trying to recall, it is much easier to track it down in a Bible that you’ve grown familiar with over the course of time. Additionally, memorization is also aided when you write physical notes in the margins of your Bible. Several universities and institutions are no longer allowing laptops in class and are now reinforcing physical note taking because of the benefits it has on retention.
Reason #3: Cordless. Yes, that’s right! Electronic devices depend upon power in order for it to be utilized. A physical Bible can be read without electricity (unless of course you’re reading in a dark room or at night). Even though you may need electricity to provide light, a physical Bible is one less item dependent upon electricity. Additionally, you don’t have that (1st world) anxiety of running out of battery when reading from a physical Bible.
Reason #4: Longevity. I do believe that physical Bibles have a longer lifespan than electronic devices. Since electronic devices are used for so much more than Bible reading it is exposed to much more wear and tear. Similarly, the world of the “cloud” may serve for convenience, but things can still be lost in this digital world. Physical books can last for a long time (and in some cases multiple lifetimes!). Your Bible can potentially be used from generation-to-generation.
Reason #5: Sentimentality. This may not be a hill to die on, but I do think people have sentimental and meaningful connections with their physical Bibles. I still have the Bible my sister gave me when I was first converted. I still page through the Bible I owned and taught from while in seminary. There are certain Bibles I’ve had with me through specific times in life. Times of victory over sin, joyous life changing events (e.g., my wedding or ministry accomplishments) and times of difficulty and trial. I honestly don’t believe that kind of sentimental attachment is developed over devices we use to read our Bibles, surf social media, and conduct business.
Reason #6: Separation & Example. Using a physical Bible identifies separation from anything else. This may be similar to the first reason (less distracting); but I think it’s special in that it identifies a specific object as unique. For example, reading a physical Bible says something to your soul that the next few moments are dedicated to careful attention to God’s Word. It also speaks of separation to those who immediately surround you. Your wife, kids, and anyone else within sight know that you are interacting with God’s Word. Reading on a device can create confusion within your soul and to others. Am I reading Scripture or checking the score to the game? Do your kids think you’re reading Scripture or do they think that you’re texting mommy about dinner? Do your fellow church members view you as studying alongside of them or are they wondering if you’re checking the weather for the week? By having a physical Bible you are setting an example of the Christian’s devotion to the Scriptures.