There’s nothing wrong with using a Bible app on a cell phone or tablet. In fact, there are certain advantages. It’s probably free. Your Bible stays with you all the time. You can easily keep up with the preacher. You can access several handy study helps, such as Bible dictionaries in English and Greek, concordances, multiple translations, maps, etc. You can copy and paste and share.
So, feel free to keep using your Bible app. The inspired words of Scripture have value because of what they say, not because of what they are written on. Projecting the words on a lighted screen is simply the next advancement in technology. If you have the words of the Spirit, faithfully recorded and translated, you have the power of God for salvation.
Still, I personally like to use a real paper-and-ink Bible. I’m not a technophobe. I use my computer or phone for practically all other forms of reading—news, traffic, magazine articles, research, addresses, maps, etc. I am so dependent on my iPhone that losing it would be an utter catastrophe.
But, I just can’t make the jump from printed Bible to electronic Bible. I am happier using a printed Bible, and I think everyone should use a printed Bible at least some of the time. Here’s why:
An Old Fashioned Bible Fills Me With Reverence
When I pick up a good old-fashioned Bible, hear the sound of the pages, smell the scent of the leather, I am filled with a sense of reverence, awe, and permanence that I simply do not feel when I pull up an app on the screen. This must be a really important book, for someone to have taken the time and energy to print it and bind it so carefully and sturdily!
I don’t mean to sound sappy, but I love my Bible. I know where the pencil marks are, I know how the spine lies open, I know where my favorite verses are located on the page. Surely there is some value in getting attached to it.
It’s hard to feel a sense of reverence with an app. When I click on my Bible program—surrounded there by Google Maps, iHeartRadio, MyFitnessPal, and Angry Birds—it feels more transitory, more ordinary, more common than I believe it should. I don’t want reading the Bible to have the same feelings associated with checking the weather or taking a crack at the next level of a video game. I want to be reminded that the Bible is an inspired document handed to man from God, a divine love letter, containing eternal and unchangeable commandments for life. Hefting a tome helps me feel like it is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12).
An Old Fashioned Bible Makes My Study More Purposeful
I don’t want my Bible study to be nothing more than occasionally glancing at a verse while stuck a train station or doctor’s office. “Ugh, I’m bored. Reflexively pulls phone out of back pocket … begins mindlessly thumbing through apps … Facebook, Gmail, Bay News 9, oh, there’s the Bible. I should read a verse or two. Oh, they’re calling my name, hooray!”
That doesn’t qualify as “reading the Bible all the time.” I want to set aside time to purposefully contemplate and meditate on the revelation of God. A solid hunk of paper and leather sitting on the coffee table or nightstand helps me to make that a priority. It helps me to think of reading the Bible as a sacred privilege and duty rather than a casual distraction.
Reading the Bible on my phone also makes it way too easy for me to get bored and swipe over to something more exciting. The block of a paragraph is not so easily dismissed; a chapter break a few verses away encourages me to press on to the end of the thought.
An Old Fashioned Bible Lets Me Appreciate The Whole Story
When I decide to read God’s word, I don’t want to just call up a single verse or swipe through the text. I want to settle down and engage with the Holy Scriptures. I want to take notes in the margin and underline important verses. Text on a page allows me to easily see what came before and what lies ahead.
A real Bible helps me be mindful that God’s message is an organic whole, rather than a collection of snippets. This is more than knowing the books in order (a skill often lost with apps). It’s knowing them in their greater historical context. It’s realizing that Joshua has a meaningful place between Exodus and Kings, that there is a whole book devoted to worship songs, that Paul’s letters are situated within the action of Acts. It’s being able to see God’s plan of salvation—completed in His mind from before the foundation of the world, revealed successively through the ages, the scheme of redemption worked out from start to finish, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:12.
An Old Fashioned Bible Helps Me to Evangelize
Have you ever tried to conduct a face-to-face Bible study using your phone? It feels less authoritative to scroll down and hand over the phone, than it does to invite a prospect to turn to the appropriate page. As watching Return of the Jedi is more stunning and memorable on a big screen TV with surround sound than on a 2” smartphone, studying the Scripture in a tangible book is, for different reasons, more impressive.