The Hunt For The Perfect Bible: Digital Dilemmas

The Hunt for the Perfect Bible: Digital Dilemmas

I really think that the Perfect Bible is probably going to be found in some sort of technological advancement: for now, that means portable computing devices. Now, I admit that there are inherent problems with having an electronic Bible. In this post I want to make you aware of some of these potential problems if you’re considering moving over from paper to pixel.

Power: No matter what, the electronic solutions of today necessitate electricity while all versions of print just necessitate enough light to read the text. This means that if you want to go wireless, you’re going to need a battery (or a battery backup) that will last you throughout the day. This becomes pretty important if you’re like me and planning to preach with your device in hand. You don’t want this thing to shut down mid-sermon.

Crash-Prone: Print Bibles never shut-down from lack of power and they also won’t fail from some random error—you have to expect this when it comes to electronic solutions. Laptops, tablets, phones: they all crash. Be it a software problem, a memory problem (I’ll explain a lot of these terms in a future post), or a storage problem: these things all crash. You must be prepared.

User-Error: True, Print Bibles also suffered from user-misuse but in this case I mean rather the error that comes along from doing things wrong. So let’s say you download what you think is virus protection—boom, there goes your Bible as you’re wiped out by a virus. Or let’s say you store multiple backups of your notes on different computers and you forget to synchronize your files: boom, now you’re working with an old version of your files (there’s a solution for this, but I’ll address this in a later post).

Legibility: most people don’t think about this, but most of your electronic devices have been made with nice shiny bright screens that are made specifically to be read indoors; your reading, on the other hand, can happen anywhere—including outdoors. These bright shiny electronic screens become reflective sun-mirrors whenever you’re outside and that destroys any ability at reading.

Expensive: A nice genuine leather Bible could cost you $100. A Mobile phone could cost you $300 plus a two year contract. A Netbook would run you $300-600; a Laptop $400 – $1200; and a Tablet $400 – $1000. And it’s seriously possible that you have to replace the thing if you spill, say, a cup of coffee on this your Perfect Electronic Bible.

Even despite all this, I still think that a good E-Bible is the right way to go, but it’s important for the person considering the transition to be informed before taking the plunge.

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To read the next installment in this series click here.

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Jottings – Orthodoxy and Respect

The moment you say ‘We have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world,’ you end up with neither Biblical orthodoxy nor the respect of the world.

Albert Mohler, Jr., quoted in Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve. Accessed on 10/29/2011.

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Jottings – The Bible and Science in Harmony

We think that, since God is the author of his Word the Bible and of the universe, there must ultimately be harmony between correct interpretation of the biblical data and correct interpretation of the scientific data.

Dr. John C. Lennox in Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science, p. 13. The first eleven chapters of Genesis is under attack. To believe what is recorded in those 11 chapters… to believe the simple and plain meaning of those words… and to publicly declare that belief, is to open up yourself to public ridicule. Ridicule, not only in schools, universities, and the workplace, but also in many churches today. Yet as Dr. Lennox rightfully points out… if God actually wrote the Bible AND created the universe the two must be in perfect harmony.

As for me, I believe that God created the universe and wrote the Bible. God’s Word never changes, yet scientific theories come and go. I’ll stick with the simple and plain meaning of God’s Word, and wait for the scientific theories to catch up.

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The Hunt For The Perfect Bible: The Need

The Hunt

Back in the day, I had received what I thought was The Perfect Bible. Black leather. King James Version. Red Letter. References on the side columns. Revised Scofield notes along the bottom. Concordance in the back. This was no award Bible: this was the real, no joke, deal.

Then I found myself having a problem textually following Spanish speakers in our bilingual church. My Perfect Bible had failed me!

Each subsequent year I faced variations of the same problem. After acquiring a bilingual version, I wanted something that I didn’t have to spend my time translating English to English—I got the NKJV but people around me were using the KJV. I was studying the original languages so I wanted something that followed the structure of those languages—I got the NASB but people around me were now using the NKJV and the KJV. I needed something to read aloud that got the point of the passage across—I got the NIV but all my notes were in my NASB.

And so on and so on and so on.

The publishing industry is structured in such a way that there is a Bible for every need. You have your versions, you have your amplified versions, you have your original language versions, you have your side by side versions and you have your versions with multiple versions. We in the West are found without excuse when it comes to the text!

But this all winds up being problematic when you want a single go-to Bible without worrying about copying all the notes into a new updated binding Bible.

And believe me, I tried. One year I went about printing my NASB with NET footers and my notes and references on side columns. I wound up with two tremendous binders filled with a couple reams of paper and only two books of the bible: Genesis and Romans. Sure the thing was detail rich but it was much too heavy to carry and would fail me if anyone was reading from any book other than those two.

What I needed was an actual Perfect Bible: something that allowed multiple languages, multiple versions, allowed access to my notes, allowed access to other’s notes and could be carried around.

Thank God for the Digital Age. Now, with the wide access we have to texts and technology we might be a step closer to the Perfect Bible. Maybe you’re in the same boat, like me, looking for that Perfect Bible—maybe not. Either way, I want to spend some time going over what I think you should be looking for and maybe even some pointers on what to pick up.

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To read the next installment in this series click here.

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Jottings – Modern Preaching

Ministers can proclaim anything in a stained-glass voice at 11:30 on Sunday morning following the singing of hymns. Yet when they fail to preach the Scriptures, they abandon their authority. No longer do they confront their hearers with a word from God. That is why most modern preaching evokes little more than a wide yawn. God is not in it.

Haddon W. Robinson (2001). Biblical Preaching, 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. Page 20. In many churches today professionally choreographed performances have replaced the authentic, albeit homespun, church meetings of our grandparents. Such stage driven “worship” is considered by many to be progress; a refreshing (or at least entertaining) change from the past. With all of this change, it seems the emphasis our grandparent’s churches put on God’s Word has also gone to the wayside. Verse by verse expository preaching has been replaced with an entertaining, religious form of modivational speaches. As Haddon Robinson said, when we fail to preach the Scriptures God is not in it.

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E-Learning Past Mistakes

Church History

When protecting the United States from counterfeit money, federal agents do not only study real money. If that were the case, they wouldn’t have come up with new methods to ensure that the money you have is the real thing (ie: microprinting ink, new notes every 10 years, etc. ). They long realized that in dealing with the real they had to know what the counterfeiters were doing to keep ahead of them.

In a previous post, I pointed out that it is important to learn corporately and not in a vacuum especially from church history. I quoted a bit saying those who don’t learn heresy are forced to repeat it.

The immediate question might be “What? Learn Heresy?”

Today we deal with a whole mess of counterfeit-Christianity, more-so when you step into the pluralistic quagmire that is the internet. These errors have long been addressed. In that other post I warned that we shouldn’t be studying in a vacuum; here I want to equip you with other tools that show you how Christians historically responded to error:

E-Reading

  • On the Incarnation by Athanasius (alternate link). He stood against Arius (and apparently the mass of Christians) that were falling for the Arian heresy. Arius believed that the Son of God was not eternal but rather a created being. You’ll see Arianism today with Jehovah Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostalism, Mormonism (probably a modified Arianism) and Christadelphians.
  • Against Praxeas  by Tertullion (alternate link). Tertullian stood against the belief that God is one person who revealed himself in different modes or roles which is known as modalism or sabellianism. He is the one who coined the term trinitas which is to say that God is three persons in one essence over against this teaching that says that there are no multiple persons in the Godhead. United Pentecostalism teaches this today. Also read On The Trinity by Hilary.
  • The Refutation of All Heresies by Hippolytus (alternate link). Here you’ll find a refutation of the matured heresy that Paul deals with in his letter to the Colossians—people who make a wrong division between the physical and the spiritual and all that that entails. Some of the error was even making a difference between the God of the New Testament and the God of the Old—as if there were a difference! You’ll find Gnosticism all over the modern church. Also read Against Marcion by Tertullion (alternate link) where he shows the tight connection between the Old and New testament
  • Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin (alternate link). Calvin (like all these writers) had his own issues but he systematically worked through Scripture in a response to the Roman church.
  • The Fundamentals. This twelve book set covered a ton of topics all in response to liberal Christianity. There were no councils during this era, so you won’t find a creedal statement—but you will find teaches that are grounded on the fundamentals of the faith.
  • Mysticism and Christianity by B B Warfield. Heavy reading that breaks out of the early centuries of the church but still manages to address a lot of the love for experiences we see today.

Audio

  • Ancient and Medieval Church History podcast by David Calhoun of CTS

Paper Books

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The Information Super-Highway & The Renewed Mind

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8

Unquestionably, this is the information age. Never before in history has so much data been accessible to so many people from every conceivable world region and demographic. If a question occurs to one, the answer is a few key strokes away. Want to know the GDP of Namibia, the population of Moneyreagh, Northern Ireland, or Adolf Hitler’s favorite composer? The answers are easily discoverable by means of the powerful search engines that comb the internet for facts and figures.

This abundance of accumulated knowledge works both positively and negatively in contemporary life. On the one hand, Bible translations and tools for studying them have proliferated on the web. Many out of print, public domain Christian books are now freely accessible thanks on websites like books.google.com and archive.org (these sites are searchable by author and title, so one needs to know which volumes one seeks.) A library that once was available only at much time and expense is now open to anyone with a computer and an internet connection.

The downside of this vast trove of information is that it can easily interfere with getting to know God through His Word.

Time that is better spent reading the Bible may be frittered away by endless and unrestrained surfing of the web. What is more, the essential discipline of meditation* on the Scriptures – mentally masticating them while prayerfully seeking the Lord’s mind and will – often is abandoned in favor of quick reading, skimming, and the short attention spans that are the negative byproduct of the information age. Joshua was told to meditate on the Word continually; this is something that characterized all of the great saints (e.g. the Psalms, which were the fruit of the meditations of the Shepherd-King David, as well as others – all by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, 2 Tim. 3:16.)

Pointing and clicking must not supplant pondering. The Word of God demands careful attention and reflection. It is to be hidden in believers’ hearts, and consulted in reference to every aspect of life. By all means, Christians must use modern technology to read, study, and proclaim the Word. But growth in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ will only come about through the time-consuming and somewhat painstaking discipline of meditatively considering the Scriptures.

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*Biblical meditation has nothing to do with the Eastern Mystical variety of meditation, which is actually its exact opposite. The Eastern variety – popular in Hinduism, Sufism, Buddhism, Transcendental Meditation, and New Age philosophy – tells one to empty his mind (sometimes by chanting a word like “Om.”) In contrast, the Bible’s use of “meditation” means to fill one’s mind with the words of Scripture and carefully consider them by prayerful and repeated thought.

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