Is a paper Bible better than a Bible app? Pastor’s comment sparks discussion
Is reading a paper Bible better than read the bible on a device such as an iPhone? An offhand comment from a pastor last week sparked discussions on the subject, with another pastor explaining why he thinks the remark, while well-meaning, was “reckless”.
“I just haven’t gotten to the present day,” said Harry Reeder, pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama at the 2022 National Conference of Ligonier Ministries. “Reading my Bible on an iPhone is like kissing my wife through a screen door.”
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Others, however, disagreed with the remark and even had concerns about it. Steve Meister, Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Sacramento, California, took the time to explain why he thinks Reeder’s comment was not helpful. Before going into his reasons, Meister noted, “I’ve said a lot of reckless things while preaching, so I don’t mean harsh judgment. And I used to make ‘Amen’ remarks just like that.
Meister even acknowledged that digital versions of the Bible have their problems, saying, “Digital media can teach us to think of Scripture in a cavalier way, like just another ‘app.’ Meister added that paper Bibles have “fewer distractions and it’s proven.” our understanding and memory of what we read in paper books is better.
At the same time, Meister said, “I have blind friends for whom the technology of reading the Bible through a device is a real blessing. I have church members with very poor eyesight, so the ability to adjust font size or lighting is truly a wonderful mercy.
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Meister’s thread continues: “There are young mums whose husbands are police officers or firefighters and they have to juggle several young children in church. I am so happy that they are helped in the difficulty of arriving at worship by the ability to carry scripture without having to add something else to carry.
The pastor also pointed out that compiling the Bible into one book was a technological development in its time “and quite controversial at that”. And reading a paper Bible does not mean that people cannot abuse it, for example, by neglecting to read it in community with the others.
“With factors like these,” Meister said, “I would encourage my fellow preachers to avoid the kind of quip that’s been circulating. You can bruise sheep who are already burdened with life and grateful for the mercy of technology available. And you can even add commands that have no biblical mandate.