Tim Challies (with whom I often agree) wrote this article, “Don’t Take Your iPod to Church.”
I’m having a hard time agreeing with his reasoning.
He asserts that,
“the method we use to convey information is inseparable from the content of that information. And even more so, every medium carries with it both content but also a worldview. When we read the Bible electronically, we read the very same words, but in a way that influences us toward a different worldview, a different way of understanding the reality of those words.”
So, to recap, he is saying that reading the Bible electronically influences our worldview and even influences the way we interpret or understand the Bible.
He sums it all up with this:
“So where does this leave us? It leaves us wondering what ideological bias, what predisposition, is carried in the book and in the electronic book. It causes us to wonder what skill or attitude is amplified in the book and what skill or attitude is amplified in the iPod.”
As much as I love real books, (meaning printed-with-ink, pages-bound-together books) I just can’t agree with him. At least not yet. He promises to follow-up this article with another one next week offering (I hope) more logical and foundational reasons as to why the printed Bible is better than the e-Bible.**
The point of the Bible is the message it provides. Not the medium by which the message is given. Is the Bible less powerful in oral form? Does it’s worldview change when read from a scroll?
The power of the message of the Bible, cannot be in anyway subdued or watered down by the medium it is presented in. It is the very power of God. Printed ink on pages holds the precious message, as do spoken words, as do pixels on a screen, as do tablets of stone.
Confusing preference and worldview is a bit dangerous. The assertion that medium guides and influences worldview I could swallow if it were in regard to anything other than the Bible. But the Bible contains God Himself, the glorious Gospel.
It is a message that cannot be bound by medium. No, it cannot even be influenced by medium. If it is the unadulterated message and Word of God, medium is of no consequence. That is the beauty and power of the Word.
The worldview of the hearer is already in place when he is using an iPod to read God’s Word. As is the worldview of the person reading it in ink.
The medium doesn’t shape the worldview, it is an indicator of it.
And the power of the Word of God reaches through that medium to radically transform both the worldview of the one reading pixels and the one reading ink. Whether I read it on a screen or a page these words contain the same persuasive swaying power, “God demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
So, as much as I love Challies’ blog, I’ll go ahead and say it: bring your ipod to church and let the Word of God in pixels transform your iPod-loving worldview. And bring your printed bible to church and let the Word of God in ink transform your ink-loving worldview.
The Word of God has the power to shape and change our worldview and will not be influenced by or secondary to pixels or paper or preferences.
**I am looking forward to hearing his next article on the topic. I went ahead and responded to this first one because I had some foundational disagreements. But I’m willing to listen and be open to his forthcoming arguments for the negatives of an ipod Bible in church. I could agree that the ipod Bible might be distracting and would entertain not using it for that reason, but that isn’t the premise he’s working with.
What say you? Do you read the Bible on your ipod or blackberry? Do you think doing this has influenced your worldview in “understanding of the reality of those words”?