TECHNOLOGY FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
A couple of years ago a Christian organisation was having a leadership meeting. The devotional speaker asked for a passage of scripture to be read. One of the participants started reading the passage from the computer screen, but was immediately interrupted by the speaker: ‘Please read from a real Bible.’ The participant was surprised and looked up, at which the speaker added, ‘I’m talking of the real one’ and waved his Bible (book format).
Another time, a group was having a discussion on preferences and the discussion turned to the Bible. One person said that the Bible in the print form was truly the Good Book and other formats are not as authentic.
I’m sure you’re getting the gist of this – there seems to be a section of people who believe that the Bible has to be a book in the traditional sense and the electronic versions are not as good for spiritual growth and maturity.
Yes, everyone is entitled to their own preferences when it comes to accessing news– newspaper, television or internet; reading the Bible or books – physical paper or electronically. But is one not stepping beyond his bounds when personal preferences are spiritualised? Also, are they not aware that their current pattern of life is also rooted in technology? Take the Bible as most commonly found now in the book format. The Bible is around 2000 years old, but the invention of the printing press, which made the availability of books widespread, is less than 600 years old. So, the Bible that we have as a book is only 600 years old – and is a product of technology – the Gutenberg printing press. Before that, the Bible was copied on scrolls, parchments, etc.
As we look at the way the world now is, and the direction it is heading, in less than a century the Bible may only be available in digital form (if the Lord tarries in His coming). This is not to suggest that we all need to move to the electronic format now. But we need to recognise that no format is eternal or has any advantage spiritually, though the word of the Lord is forever. Practically, technology has made it possible to have access to resources that was not possible, just a few decades ago.
Bible In A Floppy
Thirty years ago, a Christian, who moved to a middle eastern nation, where the Bible was not permitted, had to smuggle in the Bible. Fifteen years later, it was possible to carry the entire Bible in a password encrypted 3 ½ inch floppy disk. This could then be printed on any home printer for distribution locally. Today, with the internet, it is hard for any nation to prevent the Bible from reaching anyone who desires to have a copy of the same.
These days one can carry the entire Bible in multiple versions with commentaries, dictionaries, maps and other study resources in a tablet, computer or even a cell phone. Many free and paid Bible softwares are available that make the process of reading and study simple, yet more exciting. The Bible can be open in one window which is automatically synchronised with another version or commentary in another window. If you wish to see the meaning of a word, you just click/tap on it and pronto the meaning, as found in a Bible dictionary, appears. If you wish to make a note or highlight a passage, you could do it right there. You can change your mind and edit the note or remove the highlight. All this on a tablet which weighs around 600 grams or a slightly heavier laptop. A decent Bible in print, without study notes etc, would itself weigh around 800 grams.
The best way to memorise verses used to be the use of index cards – the Navigators were among those who made these available broadly. Today you could install an app on your cell phone or tablet, and it would help you in memorisation with suitable reminders, repetition counts, etc.
Unfortunately, the church seems to be slow adopters of technology, and individuals who keep the latest gadgets in their pockets and bags are the ones who resist change. A prayer request would only be a twitter away, while the church bulletin could easily be made available on the website or even a Facebook page. Anyway, we should thank the Lord that we are not using cyclostyling for copying – or maybe, it’s just that it’s not possible to do so anymore!