The Bible is not just any old book. It’s alive. The stories in it have actual power. It is the Word of God.

And because there’s a spirit and a strength to this book, we treat it differently than the rest of the things we read. We have unique respect for it. We believe it differently than we believe in Divergent. We are captivated by it differently than we are captivated by Lord of the Flies. We trust it differently than we trust Mere Christianity.

And while we don’t worship the Bible, we give it a special place. In our minds, and, probably, on our bookshelves.

Over the last decade, Bible apps and digital scripture have taken off. I think that’s really good news — wordplay intended. Now the Bible can be shared more easily, reproduced more cheaply, and accessed, possibly, more conveniently.

Sentimental as I am about hardcopies, the feel of paper and book bindings, I figured I should give a Bible app a try. I downloaded Glo Bible on my iPad and have been using it daily for the last two months.

GloBibleBut — and you knew there was a but — I’ve come to think digital Bibles are hurting us. For all their usefulness, they’re taking a toll. And while I don’t think you should delete your Bible app, I do think it shouldn’t replace your paper-and-ink, thousand-page tome. A digital Bible shouldn’t be your default Word of God, and here are eight reasons why:

1. Digital is Distracting

A problem with Bible apps isn’t the app itself; it’s the venue. We all know, and study after study verifies, that it’s difficult to concentrate in the face of a million distractions. Well, tablets and phones are absolutely loaded with distractions.

All the time I see people in churches scrolling through their digital Bible, and the next minute they’re checking Facebook or scanning the deals on Amazon. The same thing happened to me as I spent time in the Word on my iPad. I caught myself tapping my email and being tempted by the ESPN scores just a screen away.

If our digital Bible is our go-to place to get God’s Word, we’re likely to be distracted. You can take a hardcopy Bible to your bedroom and close the door, and there will be distractions there too, but for some reason those distractions seem far fewer and far less tempting than the 64 gigs of distraction that, with a digital Bible, are only a second and a click away.

2. It Looks Suspicious

Related to the problem of distractions is the problem of appearances. Of course it should not really matter what others think if we’re truly in the Word, but please know that using Bible apps in church or small group is distracting to others.

You know how pastors see every yawn and fidget and scowl in the pews? They also see the flicker of all those screens. I can’t help but think this is at least a little worrisome to the person behind the pulpit. Even if every congregant is honestly just reading their Bible app, the pastor has to be wondering what all that flicking and scrolling and tapping is about.

We know we shouldn’t judge. We know we should trust people, especially other Christians. But, from up on that stage, seeing half your congregation with their noses down in their phones while you try to preach the truth of Jesus Christ, it’s got to be frustrating. So, if only for the peace of mind of the pastor, so he knows you’re not ignoring him with Angry Birds, a crinkly-paper, red-letter pew Bible seems the way to go.

3. We Don’t Take Notes

This may be just me, but I doubt it. While I regularly jot notes in the margin of my big old NIV, I only once ever typed a note to myself in my Glo Bible. It’s just not convenient on a phone or tablet to type anything of substance, so we don’t do it unless we need to. And, even if we do go to the trouble of pecking away at onscreen keyboards, the notes don’t stay visible in any margin. You have to click on the exact verse in order to see what you were thinking.

marked-up-bibleIn a hardcopy Bible, you can write a lot in the margins. You can highlight and color-coordinate to your hearts desire. You can draw lines between verses. You can make graphs and draw pictures and do all the little things that mean something to you, that will make you remember what you want to remember. And, best of all, all those scribbles and thoughts jump out at you whenever you open your Bible again. You can scan a chapter for a specific note, or just admire (perhaps somewhat vainly) how colorful and ink-filled your margins have become. The ability to share notes is a nice thing about digital Bibles, but the actual art of note-taking is almost completely lost.

4. We Don’t Learn the Bible

Digital Bibles, I think, are neither more or less useful than paper Bibles in terms of memorizing scripture. But I do think digital Bibles are far less useful when it comes to learning the books of the Bible, the length of them, and their order.

Growing up, my siblings and I would have races with other church kids to see who could find Amos the fastest. No one does this with Bible apps. But that’s how I learned that 1 Kings comes after 2 Samuel. It’s how I learned that Psalms is really long, and right in the middle of the Bible. And that Titus was a good one to read in the boring parts of church because it was tiny.

You learn a book not only by reading it, but by opening it up. Flipping through pages. Exploring it. Feeling it. Digital Bibles don’t lend themselves to any of this. And I worry that kids who grow up exclusively with a Bible on their phone will never know the book — the structure, if not the theology — as well as someone who has carried and held and leafed through one.

5. It’s Not Faster

Again, this may just be old-fashioned folks like myself, but I find that digital Bibles aren’t actually faster at locating chapters and verses than I am with a hardcopy. If you know Scripture, if you’ve grown up with your hands in it, you’ll be able to find John 3:16 faster than you can click and swipe and scroll to it.

What is more, a hardcopy makes it much easier to jump between books and verses. During a sermon, I’ll often have my fingers or bookmarks holding open three different spots in scripture simultaneously. If Glo Bible can do that, I haven’t figured it out yet.

6. Missed Opportunity for Evangelism

A Bible app can and should be used to witness to others. But it doesn’t do it on its own.

What I mean is this: in the last two years, I’ve had three or four conversations with people on the train after they’ve approached me reading my Bible and said, “Hey, what are you reading?” I don’t read my Bible in public to show off, but it definitely lets people know something about me. Nearly everyone knows a Bible when they see one.

A Bible on your Android, however, gives no clues and no invitation to those around you. No one looks at the dude at the end of the car with his face buried in a screen and says, “Hmm, he’s reading a Bible.” But to read a Bible in public, an actual leather-bound book, is a public profession, is an invitation, is a conversation-starter.

7. Digital Is Not Personal

familybibleDo you take pride in your Glo Bible? Probably not. Does your family take pride in the wrinkled, stained, marked-up, decades-old Bible hauled out every night at the dinner table? More likely.

I’ve only used my Bible app for a couple months (though I’ve had it for a year), and I never think of it as “my Bible.” But I’ve had a gold-lined Life Application NIV Study Bible for about ten years, and I’m very attached to it. It’s always what I think of when I think “my Bible.”

I know it’s just a collection of pages with ink on them, but I feel emotion about it. Partly the character of it, but mostly the physical presence of it. The history of it. This is something sacred. If someone deleted my Glo Bible, I’d just download another, but if someone burned my Study Bible, I’d feel a real loss.

8. A Missing Beauty

In the same way that a physical Bible is more personal, I think it’s also more beautiful and meaningful. Beauty might not be a reason to pick one form of Scripture over another, but, then again, maybe it is.

I’ve already told you I’m sentimental about real books. Libraries and coffee table books, scrapbooks and family Bibles; I just like that world more than the invisible bytes of a digital bookshelf. I know times are changing, but call it nostalgia.

So I can’t quite put my finger on this last reason hardcopy Bibles are superior to digital ones. It’s abstract. Maybe undefinable. It’s like the reason walking through Barnes and Noble is better than looking at books on Amazon. Something about activating all the senses. You can smell a Bible, feel it, hear it.

So next time you’re sitting in church or teaching children or going to a Bible study, consider leaving your phone in your pocket and hauling out that old, deep, powerful book instead.

Posted by Griffin Paul Jackson

89 Comments

  1. I agree 100% with what you’re saying. It just isn’t the same. Plus when I hold my bible I feel connected to Christ in a special way. It makes me think about how he probably handled the old Holy scrolls in the temples. It makes me feel closer to him. I’m 35yrs old and my generation is obsessed with tech. It’s a major distraction. I once raced my bible app loving husband to the book of Romans and beat him to it from John by at least 5 seconds! The bible comes alive when you open it’s pages (while having an open heart to his word, of course). Bible app is great for reading plans or verse of the day encouragements. Theme reading (providing all verses on forgiveness, love etc) but honestly a lot of bibles have a section in the back that’ll help you do the same. I also noticed you read the NIV bible? Have you researched it? There were 2 homosexuals who helped translate that version and also that version is missing key words and verses (over 2000). I believe the VIRGIN birth is ommited also…huge red flag! Pick up an original KJV bible. God will help you through it. Thanks for the blog! God bless!

    Reply

    1. Lucius Trust owns the copy right to the NIV! Research him…

      Reply

      1. Amen!

    2. I agree with you 100% Wanita , The King James Bible is the only authorized bible. Authorized by the King of Kings in heaven , who used King James to authorize it on earth ! The Spirit of God is in the King James . Other bibles omit the blood and change entire verses . I give you a few examples. Read King James verses and compare them to NIV or other bibles . Matt 17:21 , Matt 18:11 , The deity of Jesus, Phil 2:6 , and Luke 2:33 The blood , Col 1:14 People are reading these other bibles and do not realize the are being led astray , even pastors uses quotes from other bibles , because they do not understand ! As the word of the Lord said , my people are being destroyed for of lack of knowledge ! Thanks for posting the truth and May God continue filling you with knowledge and wisdom in His word !

      Reply

      1. Amen,,,King James Bible is the only Bible for Spirit filled, God loving, blood bought beleivers. The other perversions are harmful.

      2. The compilers of the King James Bible considered it authorized by King James. If you have a copy old enough that it still contains the dedication to King James you will discover that to be the truth. In that dedication, they ascribe words to King James that should only rightly be used of God and Jesus Christ Himself.

        It is the Holy Spirit who gives life to the written Word as we come to it in faith. He breathes that Word into us afresh, just as He did into the apostles and prophets who originally wrote it down. It is not the medium that is inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is the message.

      3. KJV is flawed as is many other translations. We must NOT be married to a translation but rather to an understanding of the original manuscript – then beyond that in the true pursuit of the nature of God as our ultimate pursuit.
        In all actuality the King James Version of today is really much different from the 1611 translation. In 1769 the translation was revised to be understood and over 75,000 changes were made to the first edition.
        The Bible was originally written with 11,280 Heb, Aramaic & Greek words. The typical translation consists of about 6,000 words. It’s obvious that translations have their limitations and this is why we must be students of various translations offering a more vast understanding of God’s Word.
        Nymphas is actually feminine – KJV interprets as masculine. Nymphas was a woman.
        Col 4:15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. (KJV)
        Col 4:15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. (NAS)
        Col 4:15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. (NIV)
        “Thy fountains” refer to one’s sexuality and expression to be restricted to the confines of marriage. The KJV translation inaccurately interprets this to infer that you should let your sexuality be shared with strangers. This is obviously a mistake in the translation, which is contrary to every other translation you will read that poses this statement as a question which is answered clearly in the following verses.
        Prov 5:16 19 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
        17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.
        18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
        19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. (KJV)
        Prov 5:16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? (NAS)
        Prov 5:16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? (NIV)
        You might be surprised to learn that the New International Version actually excludes 14 verses from the text. These missing verses are Matt 17:21, Matt 18:11, Matt 23:14, Mark 7:16 9:44 9:46 11:26 15:28, Luke 17:36 23:17, Acts 8:37 15:34 24:7 28:29.
        The fact is that we must move beyond any kind of thinking that limits our study of God’s Word to a single translation. There are a number of tools available to assist us in truly studying God’s Word.
        The New American Standard is arguably the most accurate translation of Scripture. Bible colleges that study the original languages do so in correspondence to the NAS most commonly because of it’s accuracy.
        Men like John Wycliffe & William Tyndale literally gave their lives so that you and I could read God’s Word as common believers. Enjoy your reading and enjoy your studying. Let’s never lose sight of the fact that we’re reading the Word of God that we might know the God of the Word more intimately.
        George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
        Thomas Jefferson said, “A studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”
        David’s passion is inspiring when we consider his heart and love for God’s Word. May we all become greater students of God’s Word and focus in on the important things.
        Ps 119:165 Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (NIV)
        Ps 119:47 for I delight in your commands because I love them. (NIV)
        Ps 119:48 I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees. (NIV)
        Ps 119:97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. (NIV)
        Ps 119:167 I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly. (NIV)

      4. Yes the King James is authorized. It is authorized by King James I. He authorized it because he did not like the Geneva Bible because a note by a reformer said to honor God over the king. James I did not like this, so he had the KJ bible made. It is not authorized by God or Jesus Christ. I don’t know where you ever learned that. It is just another translation among many. I prefer the Geneva Bible, the Bible that broke up the Bible into chapters and verses making it easy for a congregation to follow along with the pastor. -Rev. Dr. G. R. Diehl

    3. Amen to that. The King James Version would be a real help to you. Excellent blog and subject, by the way.

      Reply

    4. LOL – KJV is flawed as is many other translations. We must NOT be married to a translation but rather to an understanding of the original manuscript – then beyond that in the true pursuit of the nature of God as our ultimate pursuit.

      In all actuality the King James Version of today is really much different from the 1611 translation. In 1769 the translation was revised to be understood and over 75,000 changes were made to the first edition.

      The Bible was originally written with 11,280 Heb, Aramaic & Greek words. The typical translation consists of about 6,000 words. It’s obvious that translations have their limitations and this is why we must be students of various translations offering a more vast understanding of God’s Word.

      Nymphas is actually feminine – KJV interprets as masculine. Nymphas was a woman.

      Col 4:15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. (KJV)

      Col 4:15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. (NAS)

      Col 4:15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. (NIV)

      “Thy fountains” refer to one’s sexuality and expression to be restricted to the confines of marriage. The KJV translation inaccurately interprets this to infer that you should let your sexuality be shared with strangers. This is obviously a mistake in the translation, which is contrary to every other translation you will read that poses this statement as a question which is answered clearly in the following verses.

      Prov 5:16 19 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
      17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.
      18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
      19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. (KJV)

      Prov 5:16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? (NAS)

      Prov 5:16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? (NIV)

      You might be surprised to learn that the New International Version actually excludes 14 verses from the text. These missing verses are Matt 17:21, Matt 18:11, Matt 23:14, Mark 7:16 9:44 9:46 11:26 15:28, Luke 17:36 23:17, Acts 8:37 15:34 24:7 28:29.

      The fact is that we must move beyond any kind of thinking that limits our study of God’s Word to a single translation. There are a number of tools available to assist us in truly studying God’s Word.

      The New American Standard is arguably the most accurate translation of Scripture. Bible colleges that study the original languages do so in correspondence to the NAS most commonly because of it’s accuracy.

      Men like John Wycliffe & William Tyndale literally gave their lives so that you and I could read God’s Word as common believers. Enjoy your reading and enjoy your studying. Let’s never lose sight of the fact that we’re reading the Word of God that we might know the God of the Word more intimately.

      George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

      Thomas Jefferson said, “A studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”

      David’s passion is inspiring when we consider his heart and love for God’s Word. May we all become greater students of God’s Word and focus in on the important things.

      Ps 119:165 Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (NIV)

      Ps 119:47 for I delight in your commands because I love them. (NIV)

      Ps 119:48 I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees. (NIV)

      Ps 119:97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. (NIV)

      Ps 119:167 I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly. (NIV)

      Reply

      1. It is unfortunate that the Preface titled “From the Translators to the Readers” is omitted from modern editions of the KJV, because it is evident that the translators themselves would be horrified at the cult which has arisen which falsely maintains that the KJV is the only “inspired” translation of Scripture and that preface is the best proof for refuting their arguments.

      2. Don’t forget that the puritans and the pilgrims when settling to this country didn’t use the KJV but the Geneva Bible.. Also you have to deal with certain words and phrases that King James demanded that the translators replace and not use..

      3. Hmm. Very insightful!!

  2. I’m 55 years old and have worn out a few bibles. While I understand the sentiment for tradition, I just can’t agree with what you’ve written here. I never really wanted to take pride in a bible I owned. Truthfully, I was very attached to an old KJV my grandfather gave me, but I never preferred the KJV so it sits on a shelf. It was never about the format but the content. With my Glo bible, I highlight in different colors to denote what I want to share, what I want to word study deeper and what I want to memorize. I shift back and forth from various translations easily. I can send a Word of encouragement directly to someone immediately and I do take notes often. Now, while I sometimes miss the tactile sensation of flipping pages, I’ve found this Glo bible to be a very valuable tool in connecting with my kids and making the Word living and current in their minds. Pulling up a map to point and say,”see, this is the Garden of Gethsemane” is pretty cool. Digital can be VERY personal if you apply the features in a way that compliments your study.

    Reply

    1. I totally agree. I think it depends on the person using it rather than the medium. This is the first year that I’ve used an app instead of my paper Bible for my daily Bible reading and I have been able to stay caught up on my 365 day devotion better than I have in previous years due to it being so easily accessible even if I have sleeping babies next to me. I also love the ability to switch between translations so quickly. I was never one that wrote directly in my Bible, but in journals. Not that I’m against writing in Bibles, I just usually have so much to say that cannot fit in margins. I think the most important thing is that you are diving into the Word each day and applying it to your life rather than what means you’re getting into the Word.

      Reply

    2. Plus at my age the screen is brighter and easier to read than a book.

      Reply

  3. I see it all the time in church – people going back and forth between a bible app and text and Facebook. Not only does it distract the user, it distracts those around them – a bright screen in a muted sanctuary stands out.

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 14, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Concur. As many advantages as a digital Bible presents–and there are many–I think it is (at least presently) much more open to distraction than a hard copy.

      Reply

    2. I think it depends on the person. I use my app all the time, but I don’t ever get out of it until I’m done with my devotion or church. That’s not an app issue, but a person issue.

      Reply

      1. I agree. If you can’t focus on the word on phone, you’re really not focused on the Word.

  4. Welcome to the 20th century. (Yeah, I know what year it is.) You’re a couple months in to using a digital Bible and you’ve got it all figured out. Good for you!

    I remember the first Bible I got after I got saved (an RSV Oxford Study Bible). I wrote all kinds of things in those margins and underlined verses in different colors.

    But then I discovered the Scofield Study Bible so I got one of those. I wrote even better notes and did an even better job of underlining and coloring.

    Then someone gave me a parallel KJV/NIV Bible. I scribbled all over that one, too.

    What I learned from carrying a printed Bible was that it was difficult to change my mind about coloring schemes, and sometimes the notes I wrote as a young single guy weren’t very meaningful to me as a married father of five. And when the bindings started to fail and the ink bled through the page, reading became difficult.

    You’ve based your experience with digital text on your use of one app, and not really a very serious one at that. I’ve been studying exclusively using digital Bibles since about 1988, and I’ve been carrying one to church since the early 1990’s — first on a laptop, then a Newton MessagePad, then Windows CE, Palm, iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Unlike you, I have extensive notes that have followed me over the years as I’ve moved from platform to platform. I’m not a highlighter any more, even though that is a lot easier now that I’ve switched to digital. If I switch Bible translations, my notes come with me.

    I look around and see people apparently taking notes on paper, but I don’t know if those are sermon notes or shopping lists. I see someone appearing to intently listen but since I can’t read minds, I don’t know if they might not be thinking about the line-up for this afternoon’s game. It causes me to think maybe I don’t know what anyone in the room is being distracted by, regardless of what is in their lap.

    Those “sword drills” we did as kids with our paper Bibles were not done to draw us closer to God, they were done to offset the inherent flaws in our paper Bibles. Paper bibles are difficult to navigate. Of course it was necessary to know the order of the books of the Old Testament, because when you opened up a 1700-page book looking for Obadiah, your chances are significantly improved if you have a rough idea where it is. Kids today press the “go to verse” button, then select Obadiah. You both end up in the same place. It was just harder for the paper-bound reader to get there.

    Not only do I think of my digital Bible as “my Bible”, I actually used a product called MyBible back in my Palm OS days. 🙂

    I think my digital Bible is beautiful. I can select the font (I like Avenir Next on my iPad), point size (at 56, I like the type a little bigger now than I did when I was 30, and I didn’t have to throw away my notes and mark-up to buy a “large print” Bible). I can select line leading (space between lines) and margins. I can select the text and background colors to be easier on my eyes. I have no bleed-through from text or notes on the back of a page.

    It’s nice that you gave “Glo Bible” a shot, but two months is the blink of an eye. Call me in 25 years. I’ll share with you then a copy of the notes I took in church this morning. If you still own the paper Bible you’re using today and if all the pages haven’t fallen out, we can take a look at yours, too. 🙂

    Reply

    1. What bible apps do you recommend? I have glo and you version

      Reply

      1. Well, I cheat a little bit. I’m the author of PocketBible for a variety of platforms. http://www.laridian.com. But any of the serious Bible apps are good. YouVersion doesn’t have any reference books and is mostly designed for people to read, not really study. It’s easy to find that and more in any number of apps like ours.

    2. Griffin Paul Jackson December 14, 2015 at 9:09 am

      I appreciate these good thoughts. I certainly would not claim to be the veteran expert on what format a Bible should be printed in. These were simply my thoughts after my experience, brief as it was. Frankly, anyone who finds a digital Bible more advantageous in growing their knowledge and relationship with the Lord, I completely encourage that. It just wasn’t the case for me in my experimental period (maybe that will change!), and I probably maintain that there are some benefits to a hard copy that can get lost in digital. Of course, both have their strong points. No argument from me on that!

      Reply

    3. I agree with everything you said! I have an app for Bible tools, an app with different translations, and a KJV app. I use them to study and teach. I take my hard copy up to the podium along with my written notes and my phone. What I am finding is people in the church have become traditional and religious and have a difficult time embracing change.

      Reply

    4. Thank you! I’m 61 and my experience has been similar to yours. I love that my notes and highlights are always with me, at the least in my iphone. I also have about 15 versions and when studying, I often consider all of them in seeking to understand the original meanings. Through many decades I now have more notes than any printed version, and I know where they are, and how to find them.

      Reply

  5. Very good logic. I do not own a tablet, iPad, or any other electronic equipment which i can carry with me to install a Bible app. I do have Bible study software on my computer–but that is for when I am digging deeper because it is a lot easier to access the necessary references via software than to open up a half dozen different references on my desk when preparing a lesson or sermon–and it takes up less workspace.
    But whether one prefers their Bible in a digital format or a hard copy format is meaningless if one is not studying and applying Scripture to their lives, being renewed in their minds, and growing more Christlike in character.
    As the Psalmist wrote in 119:11: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” [NKJV]
    So the final measure is not whether we have a hard copy or a digital copy–but whether or not the word has been written and treasured in our minds.

    Reply

  6. So true!! Nothing like the real thing. Nothing can replace holding the bible in your hands, and reading it. My bible is my life . the digital bible is useful in a pinch but not a replacement for the real thing. The life and meaning that comes from the bible in book form is definitely more alive then in reading it in digital. It will never match up. Prise the Lord for his word in book form.

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 14, 2015 at 9:02 am

      I feel the same way, Norma, though others who are commenting are making good points about the advantages of digital. Either way, it’s about the heart and the Word, not the form it comes in!

      Reply

  7. like everything else I the Christians life this depends on the heart of the person, my Bible app is full of notes, I have transferred notes from my Bible to my Bible app, I have wittiness to people on my Bible app, I have hard copies but because poor eyesight I rather read a backlit text. If person’s heart isn’t right a hard copy Bible won’t do him any better. We live in a society of distractions is up to the believer to remain focus. I fell like this an attempt to shift the blame from the individual. Is like the gun right people blaming guns instead of the Spiritual and person mental state, in the Christians life is the state of their spiritual life. I’m a King James man but I also study my Spanish Bible. So it works out great!. It’s convenient and I can take it anywhere. I have no problem with having the hard copy but even with those people were distracted, IT’S THE HEART, laziness are spiritual apathy are the biggest sins of the Christians today. Which is why we are in the shape we are in. We would do a greater service for the Lord going after those sins, rather than condemning something that’s helpful. It doesn’t matter how you have your Bible what it mater is how is your heart towards Gods word. DO YOU read it, study it, obey it and guide your live by it. Most people who have hard copies or other means, have it sitting on the shelf form Sunday to Sunday. They know there remote better than they’re Bible.

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 14, 2015 at 9:00 am

      You’re absolutely right, Wilfredo. In the end, paper or digital isn’t what’s important. It’s where our heart is in relation to the Word! Thanks for the good word.

      Reply

  8. Matthew McKinnon December 14, 2015 at 8:28 am

    There are many folks who prefer hard copy books to digital, and the writer of this article is obviously among them, his closing sentence sums up his feelings ‘but haul out that old deep powerful book instead’! However, this I think is more to do with sentimentality that spirituality the ‘age’ ‘power’ or ‘depth’ is not in the book made of paper and ink, but in the message it conveys. As an older Christian who has been reading the Bible for more than 70 years I am amazed and thankful for the wonders of digital. I think I could list more than 8 reasons why I prefer digital, but here are just some.
    1. I now easily carry my Bible everywhere I go
    2. I carry it in at least five versions, which I can switch between at a click
    3 I carry it with at least two commentaries and a Bible dictionary
    4. I can mark the verses or themes in a multitude of colours
    5. I can add notes at any verse at will
    6. I can recall marked notes or verses
    7. I can make the text size anything I like
    8. I can read it with ease no matter the light conditions
    9. As a sermon ‘note taker’ I can switch between Bible passage and ‘notes’ very easily
    10. I can share verses not just on occasions with someone on the train, but at a click with hundreds on Facebook around the world anytime a chose!

    My iPad is amazing, and in my old age I am thankful for this provision. I still carry my hard copy to Church, for the sake of some of my older traditional friends 🙂
    Matthew

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 14, 2015 at 8:58 am

      Your point is very well-taken, Matthew. I am pretty persuaded about the benefits of being able to carry multiple translations and commentaries! If anyone feels he more actively responds to the Word in digital format, I’m all for them using it. For me, however, the paper and ink is more than sentimentality–it makes me more of an active participant in my reading and understanding of the Word. Just me! But I’m glad to know the digital copies are of good use to many others!

      Reply

    2. I love your spirit!!!❤

      Reply

  9. Good points.. But let me tell you the main reason i use a bible app more than the actual bible. For one you can hold your phone in one hand, laying on your back, side etc and still be comfortable. You can read it at night no separate lights needed. Adjust the font to relieve eye strain. I get terrible neck pains and headaches hunched over for more than 15 minutes. Again a phone can be held with one hand and can be held low, high in the middle etc without any arm strain. Try that with your 1 pound and heaver bible. Your arm will feel like its going to fall off. I say use whatever is most comfortable. Everyone is different. Does not matter how we are fed as long as we are being fed the word.

    Reply

    1. And i can use the olive tree app with split screen with different commentaries and bible versions etc to compare notes for study. Cant do this with a paper bible.

      Reply

  10. Yes it’s an interesting subject. My 87 year old sister likes her Bible on her tablet, for print size etc. and at night if her eyes are tired she gets the ‘tablet’ to read to her! I use the ‘Olive Tree’ app which doesn’t have that facility, but perhaps one day I will be glad of it! The amazing thing is that we live in a day and age when the Bible is available to more people than ever before, thanks to digital, and freely available on line in so many languages, and for that we praise the Lord! And, I do still like my hard copies as well when the light is good and my eyes are not tired! I guess we all agree that the important issue is just ‘keep reading the Bible’.

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  11. HOGWASH! I’m going to write a rebuttal article to this one asap stating 18 reasons why you SHOULD move to a Bible app. Just because the writer of this article isn’t disciplined enough to use an electronic version doesn’t mean everyone should bail on it. There are times I like to shut myself off in my “War Room” and get with hardcopy Bible, pen and paper but for the most part the Bible app is my lifeline. I use Olive Tree with every available Bible translation downloaded. Anytime I can do a side-by-side comparison of scriptures, or I can simply click on a word and a pop-up window will come up showing me the Strong’s definition in Hebrew or Greek. I can click on a reference verse and see the verse off to the side without losing my place. I don’t know what app this writer is using but finding books and scripture? There is no comparison. I’ve got Bible maps, dictionaries, commentaries and more right there a click away. I love my printed Bibles and I will always carry them, but Bible apps has HUGE advantages for the serious Bible student.

    Reply

    1. Respect your opinion the bible is a beautiful book. But in the words of President Obama, we have fewer horses and bayonets also. In other words scrolls and parchment of the original bible were useful in their time, but we move on with books, God blessed us with technology, so why shouldn’t we use both.

      Reply

    2. Get the King James paper bible ! When you read a Spirit filled bible your eyes will drop tears on the pages, and your mouth will give thanksgiving on what you are receiving from the word. Will not happen on an app , plus the Spirit of God has not been experienced in app. ( Not by me anyway , and I doubt if anyone else has .)

      Reply

  12. I appreciate this article so much…My Bible study suffers alot when doing tablets,too much going on.The Book is so impressive and a good witness.

    Reply

  13. I challenge all to read Colossians 1:14 and tell me what happened to the blood > Then read King James 1611 , there you will see the blood !

    Reply

  14. Regarding #3, it’s the exact opposite for me. I never write in printed books. Of any kind. Ever. Maybe it’s a character flaw or OCD. But I take notes in my Bible apps all the time.

    I do think some of the other points are worth at least considering.

    Reply

  15. I could not disagree more. It is faster when you also while studying to pull up a concordance page. I use world pad to make notes and look up questions for later. Not sure what your app is but mine has only Gods word and no distractions.

    Reply

  16. Reblogged this on Jason Dorsett and commented:
    8 reasons you should bail on your Bible app and get back to your hardcopy

    Reply

  17. As I do agree with some of the points. If you use an Olive Tree Bible app, you can take notes and you don’t lose them. I take WAY more notes than I did with my paper Bible, AND I can actually find them inside it and I’ve been able to use them when someone asked me something specific as I was helping a friend as she was witnessing. So I am torn a little sometimes, but I do want to go back to my paper Bible at times. So ya I’m going to do about a 50/50 I think. I have been using my Bible app for about 5 years straight!!! 🙂 It’s all good, cuz God is Good.

    Reply

  18. […] 8 reasons you should bail on your Bible app and get back to your hardcopy The Bible is not just any old book. It’s alive. The stories in it have actual power. It is the Word of God. And because there’s a spirit and a strength to this book, we treat it differently than the rest of the things we read. We have unique respect for it. We believe it differently than we believe in Divergent. We are captivated by it differently than we are captivated by Lord of the Flies. We trust it differently than we trust Mere Christianity. […]

    Reply

  19. I prefer scrolls. They are more real.

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 18, 2015 at 1:16 am

      On second thought, maybe I prefer oral tradition!

      Reply

  20. Rev. Willie Herring December 18, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    I use mine when at the Dr office or somewhere I am having to Waite, any other time I use my Thompson study Bible

    Reply

  21. Do you know where one could find an exhaustive hardcopy of some (at least) commentaries in one collection like Tap, Henry, Spurgeon and Guzik?

    Reply

      1. I’m using the ‘Olive Tree’ Bible App, and they have a very sizeable range of Bible Commentaries available for purchase. Hope that helps.

  22. I won’t get drawn into the old King James Only debate but I will say this. I prefer the look and feel of my goatskin custom bound bible however it takes me twice as long to learn anything in depth with that alone. With my library of purchased books on Olive Tree and Wordsearch Bible apps, I’m learning Gods word at an accelerated pace. I often times find myself switching between translations. I make multiple notes containing scriptures over subject areas that is helpful when I’m sharing on a subject with someone this keeps me from having to thumb through a thousand pages in an effort to find that scripture I highlighted 6 months ago. I spent a years with a leather bound bible and studied a lot but the point is this. I’m learning faster with all these resources at my fingertips. I can take my bible app into places where I’m not allowed to carry a bible, I can find those notes and highlights of a specific subject area faster and I’m disciplined enough to not be face booking during church. I use a wifi iPad for my bible and it does not have Facebook or games on it. It only has my bible app and the commentaries, atlas, word studies etc on it. My phone on the other hand has Facebook. I see people all the time in churches who have leather bound bibles and they are face booking on their phones in church. If digital bibles are not your thing then by all means carry a hard print bible. If you want your library of study material at your fingertips at all times then digital is the way to go. I won’t carry a leather bible solely for the purpose of looking good. That’s absurd. We can continue this petty argument or we can get out there and witness to others in order to grow the kingdom.

    Reply

  23. How many of those who use their Bible app exclusively can sit down right now, take out a piece of paper and list all the books of the Bible in order?

    Reply

    1. Backwards
      Rev Jude 3Jn 2Jn 1Jn 2Pt 1Pt James Hebrews Phil Titus 2Tim 1Tim 2Th 1Th Col Phil Eph Gal 2Cor 1Cor Rom Acts John Luke Mk Mat

      Mal Zec Hag Zep Hab Nah Mic Jon Oba Amos Joe Hos Dan Eze Lam Jer Isa Song Ecc Prov Ps Job Est Neh Ezr 2Ch 1Ch 2Ki 1Ki 2Sam 1Sam Rut Judges Josh Dt Num Lev Ex Gen

      Reply

    2. I would be willing to bet that you can’t either. Don’t be stuck-up and pretentious just to try and prove that you’re better than someone else. Maybe try encouragement over slander.

      Reply

  24. So so true! I love my digital bible app (YouVersion) it’s amazing, I make notes on it, bookmark scripture, share scripture more easily with friends and even make verse images! But nothing, nothing compares to having a personal, treasured, hard-copy ❤️❤️

    Reply

  25. This was awesome stuff every word you said was true. Thank you I started to have my bible at hand everywhere I go but I got so busy and I need to keep my traveling belongings lite so i downloaded my bible app put it’s not the same.I had a dream long ago and this was before I started my bible app one Sunday my Pastor was using her iPad as her bible for services that Sunday night I had a dream. She was in her home kitchen and she was facing her counter in front of her was her iPad and above the iPad was a small Sharp knife and next to her iPad was her bible and above her bible was a Big Sharp knife. Suddenly thier was a huge big banging at her door.She left to defend her self so she grabbed her big knife that was above her actual bible. Instantly I knew what God was trying to say. so thank you for confirming this God bless you for taking the time to write this thank you.

    Reply

  26. Amen! I googled this to see who feels the same way, but I truly feel with a digital Bible there’s a lack of real connection to the word. Very hard to explain but me personally find it a lot more difficult to really take in the word on a phone vs the old 1000 page tome.

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts, Al. It’s a very interesting discussion and I appreciate your contribution.

      Reply

  27. Invaluable post – I am thankful for the details . Does anyone know if my company can obtain a fillable WI DoT MV2119 version to work with ?

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Many thanks, Mica. It’s appreciated.

      Reply

  28. I love my hard copy Bible but as I age my eye sight is not as sharp as it used to be. Bible apps are easier to read because of the screen being bright and the words are much easier to read. Especially in a dimly lit room. It can be tempting to look at Facebook if you’re not disciplined. If you can’t focus on the word of God on your phone you’re not going to focus with a hard copy either. And if you have to hold a Bible to be a witness of Jesus Christ then you may need the fire of the Holy Ghost to help you open your mouth and witness. Holding a Bible is not going to draw souls. Opening your mouth and proclaiming the Gospel will.

    Reply

  29. Monica Niekoley May 5, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Thank you so so very much. This is exactly what I needed and also believe!

    Reply

  30. Ssenyange Geoffrey May 17, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    To me this is 100% correct simply because it maintains the value,I mean the holiness that is in the bible,the physical closeness adds concentration in the word of God,thanks God bless you more.

    Reply

  31. Lorre Hopkins May 18, 2017 at 11:57 am

    This is an excellent summary and so true. But because you only did your trial for two months I dont think you had time to experience a problem I’ve noticed since switching to bible apps. It has destroyed the consistency and habit I had developed of a quiet time in one place at the same time each day. It is easy to become a snacker instead of devourer of Gods word, and it is easy to do that snacking on the run instead of a designated place. It’s sort of the difference between a sit down meal versus snacking throughout the day.

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  32. […] Source: 8 reasons you should bail on your Bible app and get back to your hardcopy […]

    Reply

  33. Oh yes, my sentiments alike….my hardcopy NIV is very precious as i made notes, highlighted verses, cross reference verses and chapters ; read , study and meditate upon God’s Word and Truth day and night 🙂 ♡

    Love the Word of God…John 1:1~3
    John 1:14

    Eat of the True Bread of Heaven and be fully satisfied…
    Jeremiah 15:16
    When Your Words came, i ate them;
    they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
    for i bear Your Name, O LORD God Almighty.

    Hebrews 4:12
    For the Word of God is Alive and Active.
    Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow ; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart!

    * i dont download bible app 🙂

    Reply

  34. I agree with you.. I have tried to read bible apps but i but i don’t feel like it’s Gods word ..so i end up deleting the app.

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson January 3, 2018 at 11:09 am

      While I sometimes go to an online or app-based Bible in a pinch, I don’t go back to it regularly. For that, a physical Bible is my go-to!

      Reply

  35. Thank you!

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson January 3, 2018 at 11:09 am

      Absolutely! And thank you for reading!

      Reply

  36. Wow—you got quite a discussion on this article, Griffin! I’m just reading it now. I go to an extremely conservative church (RCUS), and in order to spite the handful of KJV-ers, I stubbornly cling to my 1984 NIV(it is true that the newer version of NIV is gender neutral, but as long as you stick with the 1984 version, which is no longer published, you are okay). I am thankful that most of the precious members of our church are eagerly hungry and thirsty for God’s Word (we have a surprising proportion of folks who came to faith as adults), but there are those few who love to pridefully and self-righteously tout their KJV only positions!
    LindaVH

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson January 3, 2018 at 11:11 am

      Haha. My everyday Bible is NIV as well, though the ESV is being used more and more in my circles. And yes, this is definitely one of the livelier threads on the blog!

      Reply

  37. This whole conversation makes me sad. The Word of God is living and powerful and is not limited to a particular medium. what about those people in countries who have no Bible to hold. Hand them a King James Version; they have no idea what it says. We’re about first century Christians, did they hold the King James version in their hands or even a tome, no it was verbal memorization, letters shared, messages preached, and songs. Where do the illiterate get the word of God? Don’t forget that Christinanity is not American, but I bet it’s the only country with this conversation takes place. We American Christians have a lot to learn about loving Jesus and his word.

    I looked up this article because I had my phone out at men’s prayer in leader Of our group said to open your Bible, glanced at me, and said or your phone. I said I have the Bible on my phone. He said, “go and sin no more”. Later when I asked him about it, “ha ha I’m only kidding”. Now I see his opinion is widespread and had nothing to do with a version just that it was not printed on paper. However, I will start bringing my hardcopy, so as not to cause my brother to stumble. No need to plan a flag on iPad versus book.

    Even when we don’t agree with each other we can still learn from our brothers and sisters. Thank you Father for sending Jesus and making this possible through your Holy Spirit.

    Reply

    1. You’re not causing him to stumble; he’s causing you to. 🙂 Unless you’re using YouVersion or one of the other more useless apps, you have access to significantly more information than anyone else in the room. My PocketBible app puts not only the Bible text from multiple versions (plus Greek and Hebrew) at my fingertips, but also a couple dozen volumes of commentary, an atlas, and several analytical dictionaries and encyclopedias. Don’t apologize for being serious about the Word of God when you go to Bible study. Let your light shine. 🙂

      Reply

      1. Rairdin, I agree with Griffin. Leaders of Bible studies/prayer groups need to be careful about not making thoughtless comments or “jokes” that can hurt sensitive, earnest believers like you. Jesus looks at your heart, and He rejoices that you love His word!

      2. *Mr. Rairdin

      3. Griffin Paul Jackson February 26, 2018 at 1:32 pm

        I certainly have not intended to dissuade anyone from going constantly to the Word of God–whether that be via the printed word or apps. I pray Bible apps continue to bear more and more fruit in our hearts and ministries, and that any issues they present will be mitigated by improving technology and increased normalization. I am grateful for so much information available so cheaply, quickly, and at one’s fingertips. I still prefer printed Bibles for the reasons above, but I agree that no one need apologize for sincerely and joyfully reading the Word on a phone or tablet. From from it! “Let your light shine,” indeed!

      4. Griffin Paul Jackson February 26, 2018 at 1:35 pm

        Linda, thank you! However we find our nourishment in the word–whether in hardcover tomes or digitally, or listened to or watched (are there high-quality “movie Bibles”?)–none of those variations are worth putting anyone else down. Let us all be thoughtful and careful in our reading of the Word, but also compassionate and encouraging, spurring each other on!

    2. Griffin Paul Jackson February 26, 2018 at 1:28 pm

      You are absolutely right that the Word of God is not limited to paper and ink, nor to apps, nor to oral transmission! God’s Word will move forth powerfully in all kinds of formats, and I have little doubt in 50 years (if not sooner), there will be some new method of transmission we haven’t even imagined yet! Bible apps have plenty of positives–“Now the Bible can be shared more easily, reproduced more cheaply, and accessed, possibly, more conveniently”–but they also present some issues I wanted to point out. For me, I haven’t deleted my Bible apps–and do use it occasionally–but I still find my physical printed Bible to be more beneficial overall.

      “Even when we don’t agree with each other we can still learn from our brothers and sisters. Thank you Father for sending Jesus and making this possible through your Holy Spirit.” Amen!

      Reply

  38. I don’t think #2 applies in 2018 any more.

    Reply

  39. I agree—reading your Bible on your phone has become completely common!

    Reply

  40. I agree with #4 .

    Reply

  41. Daniel D Olachea May 25, 2018 at 9:01 am

    Thank you for this article. It had some really good points. I would like to note something about one of your points, however, pun intended. I have been using my free version of the Logos software while taking notes in church. It is awkward typing on a tablet, even with a swipe keyboard, but I can look at those notes from any digital device. I can also turn them off or on. Sometimes notes in the Bible become distracting from simply reading the Bible. By turning off the notes, I can read without any distractions. Just a thought. Again, I really enjoyed your article.

    Reply

    1. Griffin Paul Jackson May 25, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      I appreciate it, Daniel. And you’re spot on. Often, our notes are helpful–to help us process and to help us remember–but sometimes it’s good to be able to just turn them off. The Word speaks for itself and is totally sufficient, apart from any notes we add to it even for our own understanding. The trick is discerning when to hit the On/Off switch!

      Reply

  42. I think if people in church are distracted by my digital Bible they aren’t really focused on God to begin with. Which makes it their problem and not mine.

    Reply

  43. […] [3] Griffin Paul Jackson (2014). 8 Reasons You Should Bail on Your Bible App and Get Back to Your Hardcopy at https://griffinpauljackson.com/2014/04/07/8-reasons-to-bail-on-bible-apps/. […]

    Reply

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