USA (MNN) – Emojis, artwork, drawings, you name it and it’s more than likely been used by human beings to express themselves. But now in the age of information, emojis are being used to write Bibles.
As of May 29, the emoji Bible app was released in Apple iBooks. The creator of the app has insisted the new Bible translation is to help individuals engage with what has been coined, a complicated text.
Yet, as this new Bible enters the app world with the potential to take over millennials’ phones and iPads, Christians are seemingly faced with an ethical question. Is the emoji Bible a viable option to engage with scripture?
Greg Jao with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship shares some thoughts, “At one level, any tool that helps get students into scripture is a win. I want students to encounter the Bible in all of its glory and challenge and hope. And so, I think of the emoji Bible, a little bit in line with what people have done from the very beginning; which is to draw pictures and write notes in their Bibles. So whether it’s The Book of Kells, as an example of great art, people [have been] drawing pictures to help illustrate part of what’s going on with scripture.”
But don’t rush out to replace that all words Bible yet.
“One of the challenges I think, of the emoji Bible, is that they’re actually replacing words with emojis. And so I think that’s a little bit challenging because you don’t want to lose the words of scripture. Words have power. And emojis, by definition, already interpret the scriptures for you, because they’re giving you emotional reactions rather than filling it will content,” Jao cautions.
As for InterVarsity, Jao is sure there will be students who find interest in the emoji Bible and bring up conversations about it. And, as InterVarsity works to engage students in God’s word, Jao is open to how the emoji Bible will help do this. He has stated though, he does not expect this Bible to take over college campuses nor fulfill the deep desire he sees in students to critically study God’s word. Rather, it seems the emoji Bible will serve as a catalyst to student engagement with scriptures.
“Our students will find [the emoji Bible], and they’re going to use it like they use other apps. They’ll send each other quick messages, ‘look at this, isn’t this funny’ or ‘this was though provoking’ or ‘I felt exactly that way.’ And then our task is to say, ‘excellent, let’s go back to the scriptures themselves.’”
For InterVarsity, many of their students yearn to know Jesus better, and a big way they do this, is by studying the hard passages of scriptures alongside InterVarsity leaders. In fact, over the summer, InterVarsity holds week-long leadership camps for students where, during this time, students do exactly that. They meet Jesus in His scriptures and learn to feed themselves spiritually with His word.
So when it comes to the Bible and the new emoji Bible app, Jao offers three ways to cautiously approach this new text.
- Look at it as a tool, not the Bible itself.
- Emojis communicate emotions, remember what’s written in this app is the author’s emotional interpretation of God’s word.
- Remember, it’s dangerous to subtract words from scriptures. Words are powerful and they have specific meanings to communicate God’s authoritative truth.
In all, Jao sees the emoji Bible app as a tool to engage the students, and others, with the Bible. But, the app does have its limits. As Christians, it’s also an opportunity to connect with individuals interested in the emoji Bible, and to point them to the truth found in the worded scriptures.
To check out the emoji Bible download, click here!
To learn more about InterVarsity’s work on college campuses, click here!