This evening Linda's cousin and I had the opportunity to talk while she was waiting for her daughter to finish School of the Arts and youth group. We talked of a number of different subjects, at the end of which she asked about the Bible app that Matt uses in our Sunday School class. It's the popular YouVersion, which she wanted but didn't know how to get it on her Kindle. I showed her how to find it, she downloaded it, and I then pointed out some of its features, including multiple versions of the Bible. She was delighted. I am impressed. For the first millennium of the Christian Era, the Bible was all but inaccessible to the masses, most of whom couldn't read anyway. When the Bible was hand-copied, those copies were rare and very expensive.
When Gutenberg invented the printing press, suddenly the Scriptures became available en masse. The Protestant Reformation spread across Europe on the heels of what was then cutting edge technology. For the next five hundred years, the printed text was the staple of Christian life. When I was growing up in church, everybody was expected to bring their KJV Bibles, and the soft rustle of turning pages was heard at intervals during the pastor's sermon as he referenced this or that passage and people turned to check it out themselves.
While there is still something substantial about holding a leather bound onion skin paper Bible in our hands, it is undeniable that the electronic versions are here to stay. On a smart phone or tablet, it's not only possible to have multiple versions, but also commentaries and on-line helps that even scholars of a generation ago would have given their right arms to have. I can fit into my pocket an entire Biblical library that would have filled dozens of shelves in their print counterpart. So tonight I am grateful for the tools available to study and learn the Scriptures. It's so much easier than it used to be. The only thing that hasn't changed is the difficult and challenging matter of believing it and putting it into practice. It's called discipleship; the way of the Cross, and there's no technological equivalent to make it any easier. I'm grateful for that, too. With all the advantages we have, when it comes to following Christ, the poorest and most ignorant person in a Third World country stands on level ground with the most educated scholar. Perhaps he even has an advantage, for God has chosen not the rich, the wise, and the powerful, but the poor and weak and ignorant, so that the power of God might be displayed for all to see.