Home Columnist Digital Bible VS hard copy Bible: Need for more interrogation

Digital Bible VS hard copy Bible: Need for more interrogation

by Church Times

By Oyewole O. Sarumi DBA, PhD

I have read the discussions and various views on the pros and cons of e-Bible and the print copy on this platform and elsewhere.
I am making this contribution as someone familiar with the Christian faith after forty great years of walking, serving the Lord, and still counting!!!
And one has to wonder if we could take a deep reflection and thoroughly review the human race and modernisation in the journey of life. Then we would appreciate that the journey hasn’t been a roller coaster!
The fact is that change in life is inevitable, even if we keep resisting it in a self-inflicted manner as if our opinion and desire can change or modify the modicum of change in the post-modern age we are presently in.
My take is that as believers, we shouldn’t be afraid of change but should embrace it. Most churches are not growing today because many are still in denial that methods that worked 3-4 decades ago are more of an impediment than we could imagine today.
So, we must learn to embrace change as it comes and use it to our advantage.

Addressing the fears

Now, let me address one of the major fears of most believers and church leaders in particular on this e-Bible and print copy. Many think that usage of e-Bible is tantamount to the introduction of worldliness into the Church of Christ because of the way many are abandoning their hard-copy (bound) Bible for digital (soft) Bible which comes as applications in computers, smartphones, and mobile devices are very bordering and even worrisome! Hmmm!!
Can I sincerely say that I understand their concern? Not really because if we go back in history,  the Bible was first made available in parchment and scrolls. That means if we want to go back to the foundation, then we have to go back and start using scrolls and parchment Scriptures!! Why? We are afraid of moving with time!
Going back further, God wrote the Ten Commandments on stones, while other parts of the Scriptures were written on scrolls and parchments. The earlier Christians from the days of the Apostles never had the Scripture bounded, which is known today as the Bible.
But that didn’t make them more or less Christian than the generations that strictly use hard-copy Bible. So, the medium of writing emerge from STONE, Parchment to SCROLL to PAPER PRINTING, and now SOFT COPY!!!
That’s the trend and the change in lifestyle and development that started from the premodern age to modernism, and now premodernism.
The earlier we appreciate this movement, the better we can find ways to take advantage of these developments for the propagation of the Gospel and expansion of God’s Kingdom.

Change will always come

Our opinions, desires, and wishes won’t halt the progression and evolution of change and development as it is beyond our power and jurisdiction.
As Boomers, Gen lites, and GenX (those born between the 50s-80s), we can be thinking of only Print Bible because that’s our makeup and exposure. However, for those born from the 1990s, the real computer natives – like Millennials, GenZers, and Gen Alphas, your insistence on the print Bible is going to be viewed as an old school, archaic, and premodern mindset. Which it is anyway!
They will agree with you if you are their pastor or parents, but they will not accept it as a way of life because they are made for the premodern era that we are in now.
For those who are insisting that we abandon the e-Bible (soft copy Bible), and saying it’s sinful, worldly, or carnal or it’s the devi plan to replace the Bible, etc, as some suppose, and you’re saying the print Bible is what God approves, then you must remember what I said earlier as to the progression of world developments that affected the media of Bible publishing!
Although, if I align with your strong advice that Christians should go to church with hard-copy Bible, the fact is whether you accept it or not, the e-Bible (Bible in mobile devices, computers, smartphones, etc.) has come to stay.
The usage is fast on the increase because of its numerous benefits which we can’t just overlook. Fighting it won’t stop its increase and usage. Can you imagine what life would be like 30, 100 years from now, as what we think is a concerning issue would be considered archival in thoughts and form?

Value of E-Bible

My view is that the e-Bible has made studying the Scripture very smooth, easy, and enjoyable. You will agree with me that its numerous features like commentaries, numerous versions, the Bible dictionary, Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, Bible concordance, interlinear Bible, Topical guide, Cross reference guide, maps, devotionals, etc, all in one device and at a go have been of tremendous impact for me!
In the past, to do a thorough study of the Bible, I had to be at home where all my hard-copy Scriptural study materials were available. However, with the eBible and its attendant applications and appurtenances, now it’s convenient to study my Bible whenever I am off base – in transit on an airplane,  at work in the office and anywhere I find myself on the globe! What a marvelous opportunity of the premodern age! Let’s enjoy it rather than endure it!
Now, I think it was Agedo in one of his write-ups that asked, “Should I abandon my bounded Bible because I now have numerous translations in my mobile devices”? His answer was NO! His reason was that just because there are many advantages to using the e-Bible; it also comes with some disadvantages too, especially when we are often tempted to use other features on our devices, especially during Church Services.
He continued, “This disadvantage is held by the advocates of hard-copy Bibles. Honestly, this temptation is less or non with the hard-copy Bible usage,” he concluded.
Even if we advised our members to bring and use the hard-copy Bible in church, they would comply, but those computer natives won’t because it is like a life of fish outside the water!
I still use the hard-copy Bibles and Scriptural Study materials, because they are still very relevant in my personal study time today, but it will be difficult to legislate such behaviour for those natives whose lifestyle is digital. That’s the truth, but we can keep denying it.

Hard copy and spirituality 

Some church leaders still hold the opinion that carrying the hard-copy Bible shows your level of commitment, seriousness, and dedication to your faith, especially in such a time when many so-called Christians are ashamed of carrying their Bible in public, so as not to be tagged religious and zealous. I don’t agree with this view as it is mosaic and pharisaic in thought and origin. Let’s remember that we are New Testament Christians.
A pastor suggested recently that there are ways to curb some of the excesses and disadvantages of the e-Bible. One of such is to put the mobile device on AIRPLANE MODE whenever you’re undergoing serious studies. That’s OK with me! However, to write off the fact that we are in the digital age, and want to force our lifestyle or belief upon a generation that goes counter these nuances is to behave like ostriches!
Yes, the traditional printed Bible offers a significant intimacy with the Word, but there are compelling reasons to embrace the digital Bible and explore its benefits to our spiritual growth and understanding.

Why embrace the digital Bible

Some key reasons to embrace it are accessibility and convenience, versatility and multilingual capabilities,  interactive study tools, community engagement, and environmental sustainability that promotes a new world of ecological concerns, transitioning to digital formats reduces paper consumption, thereby conserving precious natural resources.
On the contrary, hard copy of the Bible also has advantages. These include tactile experience, no screen time, aesthetics, fewer distractions from apps, marginal notes and underlining, comfort and familiarity for quick references, religious tradition, better learning and memory, etc. All of these are for modern and premodern-age Christians, but the premodern Christian would count them as disadvantages.
I have gone to this length to bring clarity to the misgivings that are most attached to those who are using the digital Bible. It is a matter of conjecture, opinion, and feelings, it has no inspiration from the Holy Spirit. The time we are in is when generative artificial intelligence is being called upon to do theological services.
Let me shock you: AI Chatbots, evangelism, and the gospel are worth considering today. The rapid development of AI technologies calls for the careful consideration of how one proclaims the gospel in the digital world, and how to react to the many issues of care especially for the elderly – as robots expand their caregiving for older people to theological formation. AI has begun attempting to answer theological questions raised by people who are searching for God. We need to urgently bring Bible-believing experts in AI together with the church to prepare for the future. Or else……
_Feel free to interrogate this piece and we can all keep learning until the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen._
Blessings 💯❤️
Oyewole O. Sarumi DBA, PhD
Professor of Strategy and Leadership Development, ICLED BUSINESS SCHOOL LEKKI, LAGOS NIGERIA.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment