Has Bible Journaling Gone Too Far?

Life and Happiness, Religion

Recently I’ve noticed this trend online called “Bible Journaling.” I hadn’t given it too much thought and didn’t take too much notice to it until I started seeing it filling up my Pinterest. So I decided to investigate.

LifeWay actually sells specific Bibles for this purpose. There is a very large margin throughout the book so you can doodle, and write reflections and notes. Their description states, “These unique Journaling and Note-Taking Bibles make a great gift and lasting keepsake for anyone who values God’s Word. Create a legacy Journaling Bible that can be passed down to your children so they can see how your faith grew through the years.”

I like that. A timeline almost of your faith. What a great idea. I often jot notes in my Bible or underline a specific text to remember. However, I was raised that the Bible was a sacred thing – it even BREATHED because it was alive. (My mother and grandmother would never place anything on top of a Bible because that would be sacrilegious. I do not go that far, but I do respect it.) Because of that respect, I use a separate journal or notebook to make notes. BUT, the LifeWay Bibles would offer some additional room so I would probably not mind writing more in those.

Then I started seeing Bible journaling that seemed to be taking things to the next level.

Do a Google search for “Bible Journaling” and see what you think about what you see there.

Here is a pic of one such instance (taken from here with permission.)

Now… I understand this trend and these pieces of artwork are lovely. I admire their artistic abilities. What I don’t admire is the defacing of the Word of God. It is one thing to add notes, reflections and even artwork in the margins of a Bible. It is another entirely to block out the words with your artwork. The Word is art in and of itself. Books, especially the Bible, are often called “works of art.” For me, these above examples are as distressing as someone painting over the Mona Lisa.

Here are a few things that came to mind when I saw these images (and, frankly, too many others. This seems to be a disturbing trend.)

These folks are defacing the Bible in my opinion. It is an item of respect. Yes, they are trying to dig deeper into their faith, but how far to go? Is covering up the Word of God the same as Thomas Jefferson pulling out pages he didn’t like? They are now unreadable so isn’t it the same? If you pass this book onto your children – how will they read those passages?

The American Flag is also an item of respect to many people. Would you draw on it? Would you cover up the stars and stripes with other images of Americana to show your patriotism? I don’t think so.

In addition, by putting these items out into the public eye on these blogs aren’t these people now saying, “Look at me and what I can do!”? Aren’t they turning the focus onto themselves with their artwork instead of shining the light onto the Lord and His Words? Many of the sites I visited were artists trying to share their work – are they jumping on the Bible Journaling bandwagon simply to see their wares?

I love the thought of printing out a section of the Bible (or making a copy of a page) you are inspired by, mounting it on canvas and THEN painting on it. Great! You haven’t defaced a Bible in the process. You haven’t transformed the Word of God into your own artwork.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1 KJV

The Word – the Bible – is GOD. Would you change God? Would you place yourself before Him? “Oh yes, Lord, that is a wonderful word. Here, see how I can make it better.”

My mother and grandmother always taught me that the Bible was a living, breathing thing. They would not even put anything on top of a Bible because of its sacredness in their eyes. I don’t go that far, but I respect the Word of the Lord. I write notes in my Bible and underline passages, but I don’t cover up His Word in the process. (And I don’t highlight – I know a lot of people do, but I don’t really like that either.) I wouldn’t deface any other book in this way – why would I do it to the Bible?

No. God wants us to know Him and understand His Word, but He demands respect. His Word is holy. Yes, walk beside Him, but in the margins, not in front.

What do you think about this trend? I’d love to hear other opinions.

UPDATE: Check out my update on this interesting topic, published January 18, 2018 here.


98 thoughts on “Has Bible Journaling Gone Too Far?

  1. I follow a crafter on Facebook and youtube, she does scripture journaling but she uses a note book writes the scripture and her thoughts on one page and the page across she does the art work that helps her remember that scripture but not in her Bible

  2. Oh my I’d not seen or heard of this. I treasure my mother’s bible not just because it was hers but because it is God’s word. I do however love that throughout the last fifty something years of her ministry, she wrote little notes in the margins and since her passing it has given me great comfort and insight to her relationship with the Lord Jesus.

    But what I’ve seen here in these bibles, artwork on the pages of God’s word, well it is disturbing. To me it is like tattooing the face of God. Yet tattoo’s have become very popular in our world today. A book yes, but what does that book represent? Not “just” a book. God’s words are spirit and they are life. Written and given to us by men who were killed to bring us this book.

    In todays world, anything goes, is the motto. I’m from the “old school” where you show respect, give honor where honor’s due. Say, thank you, and yes sir/mam and no sir/mam…I’ve seen our society and our world change over the last sixty years and all I can say is, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” This world is not my home. But while I’m here, I will love unconditionally, pray continually, and strive to live my life so that others will see Jesus, not me. I think it is extreme and horrifying to deface a bible, burn a flag, destroy a masterpiece of music or art, or kill my fellow man. God help us all!

  3. Totally agree with you, Sue. My parents taught me never to put anything on top of the Bible too. I can’t say I never do, but to this day, it makes me cringe. The Bible deserves special treatment and respect.

    I do highlight and make marginal notes. But I’d never do anything like what these photos show. There is a time and place for everything. During the sermon may be the perfect time to make notes and even sketches (yes, I do that in a notebook), the Bible is definitely NOT the place (imho).

  4. I agree completely, you should never cover over the text, Margin notes are OK but not the whole page. Use a separate book. I have, over time, written a page about some Bible verse that I found meaningful for me and keep them in a 3-ring binder. It is helpful to me.

  5. I completely agree with you. In fact I was googling about why people cover up the words when bible journaling when I found this article. Everything you have said rings true with me – thank you for writing this!

  6. I bought a Bible that was published for Journaling it has faith base illustrations and some verses throughout it on the margins. I don’t mind coloring in a cover page or a page that was illustrated for the purpose of coloring….however I don’t like to cover actual scripture.

    I’m torn about this. My Bible that was made for journaling is beautiful…and the illustrations are pretty….but I just can’t bring myself to cover scripture or use art supplies that will cause it to get wet or sticky…I’m sticking to colored pencils and only writing in the margins. I wanted a Bible that I could dig in and take notes. This is perfect for that. I have other Bibles at home that I do not color in…as they are perfect the way that they are.

    I have highlighted verses in the scripture. As long as I can still read it. It is helpful for me to be able to go back and see notes…I feel that sometimes the Word is talking to me and wants me to know something.

    I have seen beautiful art drawn in Bibles, but I just can’t get past covering scripture….that is too far for me to go…but that is me. Maybe I travel farther than others…and others will travel farther than me.

    I’m not sure what to make of Bible Journaling….Just wanted to chime in that the people who are doing so are buying special Bibles that have extra wide margins, single columns of print, and some are even illustrated with line drawings to color. They are not usually taking a family Bible and marking on them…..I am trying to keep an open mind….but some of it I am still uncomfortable with.

  7. It truly bothers me to see the words of the Bible marked and colored over, sometimes even to the point it is unreadable. I am planning on purchasing a bible made with pages specifically for journaling in the margin and beautiful pages to color that are completely separate pages. I think this will help me to remember verses and possibly get more from my study. I agree with you completely that marking over God’s precious words to us is very inappropriate. Thank you for your column.

    1. Thank you so much for your comments! I, too, got a Bible specifically for coloring instead of making up my main Bible. I think I’ll do a post soon about that as a follow up to this piece. Thanks again.

  8. Thank you sooooo much for this post. I was thinking I was the only one appalled by the people who completely cober the pages. I do, like the idea of the coloring bibles that have stuff along the margins preprinted to color in and the note spaces but the full page painting and coloring ober the words also made no sense to me. What good is it to cover the scripture and not be able to read it after. Makes no sense to me. I hate to say it, but I think this might just be another way the devil is finding to corrupt the faithful people of the world. Another fad to corrupt something pure and good and spinning it to make people think that byndoing this they are somehow going deeper into the faith when in fact the opposite is happening. The worst part is that since the social media is soooo huge this is spreading all over the world fast and everyone thinks it is ok.

    1. I agree with you. I think that we are too often distracted by some of these things. What is wrong with the Word the way it is? I have a journaling Bible that has specific spaces, not over the text, that I can make notes, color and even doodle. But it is not going over the text. If we cover the text, isn’t this a way that our future generations will not be able to read it? Thank you for your comment!

  9. FYI – The “For such a time as this” is done on acetate, so not on the Bible itself.
    Rebekah Jones ALWAYS leaves her words readable. You may not be able to see it clearly on that photo but her text is readable… just like highlighting. And you can see the one from “the thinking closet” is also readable. So those may not be the right examples.

    Bible Art Journaling is a very personal thing. The Bible I use for journaling is not the same one I use for daily reading, it is for me a “highlighting” of the scripture on that page that has impacted me. Most people leave their text readable and there is no difference to colouring over it than using a highlighting pen. While I am not comfortable covering my text so that it’s not readable, it is a personal choice as no one is covering it because they disagree with it or hate it.

    Flags: I am English and our flags don’t come with the same rules the US does, but I often give people a flag with memories written on from their time here. Some have them hung up on their wall. It is not defacing the flag, it is highlighting the memories of the time here and when they look at it, they remember how much they enjoyed their time here in this country and the people in it. So it is with Bible Journaling, when I flick through that Bible, I remember how much I enjoy God’s Word and what He says, and can’t wait to read more. Expressing what you are reading is particularly great for people who struggle accademically to read the Word because words are not their primary way of learning.

    All that to say, I understand and if you are uncomfortable, don’t do it, but be careful criticising something that is getting more and more people reading the Word regularly who wouldn’t normally, is being used as a FANTASTIC evangelistic tool, and is not being done with any ill intent. 🙂

    1. I appreciate your comment. I still don’t agree that some of these are “readable” (not the Rebekah Jones one. I’ve shown friends this and some others on her page and almost everyone I know agrees they can’t read the text), but I do see that they are not done with ill intent. My point in the post was not to criticize (I would have left off the credits on the photos to not bring them to light, but legally I have to credit them.) I simply wanted to share a trend that concerns me.

      I’m not sure it’s a great evangelistic tool. It’s terrific if more people are reading the Bible, but I feel like the respect of the Word is lost. I’m thinking here of the new Christian who is given their very first Bible and then told it’s okay to scribble and doodle in it. I cringe at that. It’s not teaching a proper respect of the Word. As I said in the piece, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to create additional art work on top of the Mona Lisa to show their appreciation or understanding of it. Why would I do that with the Bible? Simply use a separate notebook, journal or art pad in conjunction with your Bible. You could write out the verses that inspire you in that notebook (thereby helping you to retain the verse better – it’s proven that if we rewrite the verse we will retain it better) and then draw around it. This is actually a more impactful way of studying God’s word.

      However, I also do agree it’s a personal choice and I was expressing mine in the post. I appreciate you for expressing yours in your comment! 🙂

    2. I’m from the UK too and wouldn’t like to see our flag defaced. Sue wasn’t criticising the whole Bible Journaling thing, just the covering over the text so that it becomes illegible. There is no evidence to suggest that Bible Art Creativity is getting folk to read the Word of God more. It is simply a means of colouring in and contemplating one verse of Scripture at a time. Neither is anyone saying that this is being used with ill intent!

  10. Finally! I have been thinking I was the only one who felt this way! I have two very artistic girls and we have journaling Bibles. But when we get them out inevitably one of us will say, “I just can’t go there with all the Gesso and paint.” We keep it to light colored pencils, and no posting of results, lol. Drawing is not unlike making notes in you Bible, but a note brings attention to something, it does not cover it up.

  11. i absolutely adore the idea of bible journaling, because really, i was doing it before it was a “thing”. there is a therapeutic and meditative aspect to doodling that helps me to concentrate on what i’m studying and makes it easier to remember. while i revere the word of God as living and powerful, the book itself is not an idol and God never asks us to treat it as such. when i was little, i used to gasp if someone dropped their bible or someone put something on top of it. i realize now that my reverence for the THING was wrong and the precepts, truths and mysteries therein are what i should cherish. that said, i too have been concerned about art that actually BLOCKS OUT the words in the bible. what’s the point of using the bible itself if you’re going to cover up the text? my hope is that these artists must have a study bible aside from the bible that they paint and doodle in. if not, then i do believe they may have gone a bit too far.

  12. I found this article after searching for others who are also dismayed over the current fad of covering the words in the bible. As much as I appreciate the beauty of the artwork involved, it somehow feels wrong to me and I can’t help but think that in a few years many of these bibles will be cast aside or donated because the trend changes or because the previous owners never felt their attempts were good enough.

    1. I agree. I do have a Bible especially made for journaling and coloring. None of it goes over the text and my father have it to me. I won’t ever get rid of it. But the ones that can’t be read…how does the next generation read it? I have one that is my grandmother’s, it’s special to me because it was hers and yet, if I couldn’t read it because of her scribbles…not sure I’d keep it. Thanks for your comment.

  13. Funny thing is I just recently noticed this trend of Bible Journaling, and it immediately troubled my spirit without putting much thought into it. That alone was enough for me not to think about doing it. I found your page and when I decided to see what others were saying on the subject. I found one writer saying “The word of God should be the focus of your art not the medium for it” . That made the most sense to me.

  14. Totally agree. Hope they never need to read “the word” again. Nothing could ever be more beautiful than the word, anyway 🙂

  15. I agree 100%. As beautiful as it is, in my opinion it is very disrespectful to the living word of God. I was raised the same way. You respect it and cherish it. I don’t see why you can’t have a sketch pad with you to draw on when you study your bible. I’m sorry, but I think it’s just another tool used by Satan to get people to not see God’s word as anything other than a motivational coloring book.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. We have to be so careful when it comes to the enemy’s schemes. And don’t apologize for your opinions! 🙂 Thank you for your comment!

  16. I agree with the writer who pointed out that the Bible is not to be treated as an idol. That said, I do believe it should be respected. I regularly art journal in my ESV Journaling Bible. I, like many others, also have a Bible for personal devotion and another I use for Bible Study sessions with my small group. I allow my work to spill over from the “journal margins” onto the text, however, I NEVER block out any of God’s word. Most of us don’t. Yes, there are some who do and I personally don’t understand why.
    Please don’t lump all Bible Art Journalers in one boat. (For most of us it is a form of worship; a time of creativity, prayer, and meditation; not a fad.) Instead, rejoice for all the souls who have come to or returned to the Lord through interaction with His Word.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I don’t think I tried to lump everyone together, I was trying to point out that these types of journaling do exist and it bothered me. I personally do not even write in other books so it is very difficult for me to make any marks at all in my Bible. This is why I find this trend slightly upsetting. I do understand that there are many who do it only in the margins and that is your own preference. Thanks again for your comment!

  17. Thanks for the write up and to everyone else for their comments. I was starting to feel like I was alone in my stand against Bible journaling. I am comforted to find there are others who feel the same way!

  18. I agree with you, but I remind myself that it’s just a fad; it will pass. They always do. I’ve never been a fad-follower, but instead I sit back and watch “everyone” as they fall into each fad, and—eventually—fall out of them (and on to the next one). I really don’t get this one at all, though. Like you (or perhaps someone else in the comments here) said, why not buy a sketch pad or paint pad and sketch, draw, and paint in that as you study, if you’re artistically inclined and inspired to do so? Why IN and ON the pages of a Bible?

    1. (Also, from a practical and artist’s standpoint, Bible pages are not the right medium for creating art, anyway—especially not painting or other wet media.)

    2. Speaking of fads, remember when everyone was getting CB’s in their autos. They all had to have a ‘Handle’ and talked like they were in a ‘big rig’. And just as quickly it all died out.

  19. Legitimate question here. You are a writer and I would never plagiarize your words because that is stealing. The same goes for images. When bloggers (or anyone) post an image online it belongs to them. Do you have permission to use those images that are in your blog post? It is a copyright violation.

    1. I give credit back to the owner of the graphic, link the graphic to their work or ask permission. Typically, I use my own graphics to avoid any issues.

      1. It doesn’t matter if you have given credit. It’s not your image to use. Credit doesn’t pay the bills. What if I plagiarize your writing and give you credit? See what I’m saying? Just no.

      2. Plagiarism is defined in the Merriam Webster’s dictionary as: “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own : use (another’s production) without crediting the source.”

        1) I do not pass them off as my own.

        2) I DO credit the source.

        If you were to use my words AND credit them to me that would not be plagiarism – a lot of nonfiction works do that. They use footnotes or some other way of crediting the work back to the original author, much like I do with the images I use on my blog (when they are not my own.) I truly do my best NOT to use others graphics to avoid any type of situation. But when I do, I am careful to point my readers back to the original author of the work.

  20. Hi, i feel same way as you are. I love Art jounral but I m not comfortable doing on Bibles and cover up on God’s words. Its seem to me abuse on cover up. I only highlight or draw line on verses and note on side But I do my art work on my notebook like school notebook or sketch book for my personal art jounral what Verses important to me or helped me to see what God has done for my life. I know some people disgree with my feeling but I dont care what they say or think. God knows in my heart.

  21. The purpose of art journaling in a Bible is to express yourself creatively in response to what God is saying to you. And if that means you cover up or paint over certain verses then so be it. It is not the Bible you use to read and study from regularly. One could make a similar argument about plucking out a Bible verse and including only that verse on an art journal page – it still is not all of His word but it is a portion of it that speaks to you at that time. It is good that we feel His Word is sacred which I feel is more of a heart response than anything to do with paint, markers, stickers, etc.

  22. I was going to do it but then started thinking the same way as you are. I have decided to do a seperate regular journal doing it with verses from the bible. Thank you for reaffirming my thoughts

  23. I personally cannot abide it. Your article is spot in. It is defacing God’s Word. It is graffiti. Pretty or not, it’s graffiti. I feel almost sick when I see a page of scripture that is practically unreadable because of all the “art” on it. It’s embarrassing. And frankly, to purchase a separate Bible for this purpose bothers me too. It is a Bible rendered useless because it’s being used as a canvas. Put it in the hands of someone who needs it or someone who wants it but maybe can’t afford it. I truly don’t mean to sound harsh, but I think this has no place in God’s Word.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I think using a journal or design pad would work best really – apart from the Word of God. I do have a Bible that is made to color but I use it only for that and it doesn’t cover the Word. And, I agree, if you have spare Bibles – give them away! Share the Lord’s word!!

  24. Sue, I agree with you. My bible is sacred for me to study and make biblical notes as the Holy Spirit prompts me to. And coloring in my bible is ridiculous and not respectful of the Word of God. If I want to color I’ll get a coloring book but as for my bible we need to maintain the respect it deserves and stop being people of the world and be set apart as the Word of God tells us.

    That’s just how I feel and I thank you for pointing this out. As my daughter and I were going to journal but we couldn’t wrap our minds around coloring in our bible and thought perhaps we were missing something. We are not ones for following trends or band wagon people we just love and respect our Lord and want to be pleasing to Him and understand His Word.

  25. Doesn’t the word of God say let “thy will be done” not my will. And shouldn’t we want more of the Lord to be seen and less of ourselves? If God’s Word is true then why would we want to cover them up to express more of ourselves instead of just letting the Word do what is was created to do and shine? Would you really want to stamp out His Holy Words just so that you can be more noticed and expressed? Would you really want to cover up the precious Words that many died to protect and that has been ridiculed for centuries just to express YOUR WORDS? I think that does not show the love of the God who was hung on a cross for you, beaten and spat on for you, mocked and called a liar for you went into hell and return just to protect you but oh well lets cover up those words with graffiti to show how pretty the colors are and how nicely we can draw. Can’t you color on a blank sheet of paper instead?

    I’m just saying.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Dee. I’ve found most people agree with me. The Bible is not just another book. (Besides, I wouldn’t deface another book either – except textbooks with highlights). It just seems wrong to me. You articulated it well. Thank you.

  26. I used to highlight scripture and write notes in the margin of my bible but was convicted about it once during my time with God. I felt that it disrespected His word and have chosen to no longer do it in obedience to that conviction.

    Just a side note, the ads on this page make it almost unreadable as the page keeps jumping to the ads while I am trying to read and write. You may lose viewers due to this.

  27. Thank you Sue,

    It was such a relief to read your blog post, because this has been bothering me too and I thought I was the only one.

    Today I bought my first journaling Bible online. I love the idea of having margins to write comments in or copying out the word of God. But not to do artwork in. It makes my stomach cringe overtime I see a picture on pinterest or a film om youtube were the text has been covered by paint or some other kind of artwork. I just can’t do it.

  28. I have two journaling Bibles, one I bought, one was given to me as a gift. I would still like to get one more, that has full complete empty pages. (Not necessarily to cover those pages with artwork, but also because it allows more space to either put more notes or write a particular scripture larger to emphasize it). I don’t cover up the entire pages. Many of the pages I use the margins just to journal more of what I want as far as scripture or to really emphasize scripture. I do, do some artwork with it, if I feel inspired to do so. I also though, will NOT cover up the entire WORD like some have where you cannot read any of it. Some of the pages in which the artwork has been done on full pages, if done tastefully and in the right media, one can still continue to read the full WORD of our LORD without issues. I do have a problem with the ones where they have taken like acrylic paint and just placed it all over the page, so much so, that you can’t read anything. I also have several Bibles. I have my main go to Bible, with many highlights and bullets stating what they cover, like Healing, Prosperity, Forgiveness, etc. THAT is my Bible I use for most of my study and for church. I do feel like my journaling bible, has brought me closer to God in some ways, by reflecting on what the scripture says, and what I would like to highlight in an artistic way. I see nothing wrong with that, if I am still reflecting on the WORD, it brings attention to that particular scripture, and as stated earlier, I am not covering up the entire Word.

  29. I just purchased a KJV journaling Bible that’s primarily for coloring – in the margins only. I have several other Bibles, and plan to use this one for art, but not to cover up any words. I see nothing wrong with having a Bible that’s dedicated to this, provided that no words are covered up. My old Bible is heavily underlined, and my mother’s bible is chock full of notes. So what? That means those bibles have been read and used, not abused. I do revere the Bible, and do not plan to cover up any words. It does trouble me that many people seem to just want to display their art instead of focusing on studying the Word.

    1. I agree. I have a Bible that is only used for coloring in the margins and I have some notes in other Bibles, but never covering God’s word. Thanks for your comment.

      1. I very much appreciate this article. I’m new to this. I went to order a new study bible online, and discovered the journaling bibles. So I bought both the study bible and the journaling bible. After that, I searched online for various websites, and that’s when I saw all those pictures of artwork covering entire pages of the bible. I was taken aback, but there is one Facebook group that’s for people who only do artwork in the margins of their journaling bibles. That’s the group I joined.

  30. I’m one that enjoys bible journaling to a certain extent and, frankly, find some of your statements troubling. While I don’t cover the words of the Bible to a point that makes it unreadable, I do a lot, and I mean a LOT, of highlighting. I may go through a passage and mark every promise that is made, or ever action statement. Highlighting those things, is still marking over the words, although I make a point that all the words still be readable. I have a journaling bible (actually 2) with illustrations to color that I use just for that purpose. I color, make notes, and highlight. Doing these things force me to spend more time in study, and to slow down and soak it in. Both of my daughters (teenagers) are very artistic, and the journal and draw (still not covering the words to the point that they are unreadable) and that helps them memorize the passages, remember the truths, and have them really soak into and shape their hearts. One of them even asked for another journaling Bible for Christmas. Frankly, if my kids want a Bible, I’m going to get them a Bible. I don’t think there is anything better that they could want then to spend time in God’s word and Bible journaling has encouraged that.

    Assuming that another person is being disrespectful to God’s word because they spend time in it differantly then you do, seems more then a little harsh. You don’t know their hearts, only God does. Like you I was raised to never set anything on top of the Bible. I still don’t. I was raised to treat it with all respect, I still do. I was raised to keep it pristine, and perfect because God’s word is perfect. As a result, I spent little time in the word. Even something like a wrinkled page made me feel as if I was being disrespectful. Now I spend more time in God’s word then I ever did, and I grew up in a pastors house. I soak it in, I apply it, and more importantly, I’m LEARNING it! I know now that God want’s us to spend time in His word, and His word is not ink on a page, that is just a copy. His word infallible, it is everlasting, and can never be destroyed. I am certain the Bibles that are on our tables and bookshelves can be destroyed. The word of God can’t.

    Ironically, the thing that inspired me to try Bible journaling was an article on Johnathan Edwards “Blank” Bible. I decided that if one who spent so much time preaching, and teaching the word of God in such a powerful way saw some benefit to studying in that way; then maybe I should reconsider. Of course he didn’t add artwork (I don’t much either, it’s not my gift) but he made many notes, so many they couldn’t be held in his original Bible. He wrote his sermons in it too. It was an amazing peace of history, that shaped his walk with God and his ministry. Please remember that God speaks to us all as He see’s fit.

    1. I appreciate your comment and think, actually, we’re very similar in our opinion. I’m sorry lobe may not have come across to you a clearly as it should. My main concern is that many Bible journalers seem to focus more on their own artwork than the word of God that they are covering. It is not about us, it’s about Him. I, too, highlight and make some notes, but not a lot. I have a separate journal made specifically for notes that I use. It helps me write down a lot more than I could in the margins and I find that it helps me to truly get into the word better and to understand it more fully. You’re right – we’re all different, but I pray that people will only focus on God’s word and not their own selfish pursuits. Thanks for your well thought out comment. I did appreciate it.

  31. Hi there, and thank you for sharing this post! I agree with all your points. However, I would respectfully suggest further research into “In the beginning was the Word…” — I’ve always been taught that John isn’t referring to the written “word” there, but to Jesus himself, the living “Word”, or “Logos” in the Greek. The Bible is not God. Jesus is God. Let’s both research it more… and then write what we find in the margins of our bibles, not on top of the rest of the printed page lol.

    1. I completely agree with you. But the words written in the Bible are the inspired words of God (what I’ve been taught) so, for me, to cover them is almost blasphemy. Thanks for your comment!

      1. Yeah I definitely think covering them is inappropriate and unnecessary. It’s so simple to just use a separate surface. You could even washi-tape it in as a new page.

  32. I can see both sides, although I mostly agree with you. I see my scriptures as a sort of workbook to study and help me become closer to God, so I underline, write in the margins, bookmark favorite verses, etc. Colorful markings help me remember better, so although I never make words illegible, I do lightly shade in colored pencil (for example, I might mark all the verses of one chapter that have different names of God in yellow).

    On the other hand, I don’t create artwork or cover up words…but to me, the strangest thing about Bible journaling is how many people post pictures of theirs online! My marked-up copy of God’s Word is very personal. Letting someone look in it feels like letting them listen in on my private conversations with God.

    I’ve heard from many people that Bible journaling revitalized their faith and brought them closer to God…to each her own, I guess.

    1. Wow. I never considered that aspect of showing off the personal markings! That’s a good point! If it is truly personal, why share? Although I think it’s great that people would want to, I guess. We need to open up a bit about our faith so that others can see how hard it sometimes is. Thanks for your comment!

  33. Although not as eloquent as previous ones who have commented on why they will not do Bible journaling, I agree completely with you. I recently purchased an NASB Study Bible. Together with the KJV Defenders Study Bible and the 1599 Geneva Bible I own, all have rich commentary in them. When I read, I only deviate if I need something explained or to look up the Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic term and how it is applied within a particular verse. I also have my mother’s bible that is extremely marked up, but you can still read the words. I can’t even imagine covering over any part of it. My personal choice in pens was Micron: no smearing, fade proof, and no bleed through to the other side. Four main colors are for God’s choosing or election [it’s all about God, you know], learning, adding to prayers and verses memorized. Drawing or painting takes my mind off of what I should be focusing on. I just respect my bibles too much to have anything covered up. Our church may be starting up a class in this and I will not participate. Thank you for writing this, I appreciate your thoughts very much!

  34. The year I got married (1979), my husband bought me a Bible that had wide margins. It’s one of my favorites for study, because the space begs for notes. I think there’s room for the journaling Bibles, even the coloring on the words kind—the same way I believe that paraphrase Bibles have their place: to enhance my worship and learning , my devotional practices, but I would always have a Bible without pictures and coloring for preaching and study. Coloring and the creative arts can be instruments the Spirit uses to draw us ever closer and deeper in our relationship. I believe it’s a case of both/and, not either/or.
    Thanks for creating space for this conversation!

  35. I disagree. My Bible journal is mostly for me. Sometimes I share with other people. Doing a page is meditative and a form of “hiding the Word in my heart”. The Word is not the physical book of the Bible, but Christ and Him working in our lives. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is nice in a book which happens to be the Bible, but it doesn’t mean a hill of beans if I don’t actually go out and LOVE my neighbors.

  36. Thanks for the article. In my opinion, bible journaling in an actual bible is like graffitiing a church or other religious building. I do however, write notes in the margins, and underline verses in pencil. I would never cover up the words. It sickens me to look at pictures of wrecked bibles. When i want to do bible journaling i use a notebook or a sheet of paper, never my bible.

  37. I am from the UK too and disagree, somewhat, with my fellow patriot’s comments! It’s clear you were not criticising anyone in particular and I agree that this recent trend of colouring and doodling over Scripture is very disturbing. Neither do I see this whole creative journaling thing as an evangelistic, tool, per se, more a way to contemplate a particular verse of scripture – as you colour in – and possibly feel inspired. For me tho, that’s as far as it goes. I too have one of the Inspire Journal Bibles with wide margins where I like to make notes occasionally and there are many detailed line drawings to colour in. Interestingly, I have found the whole creative process actually distracts me from reading God’s Word because I am too busy carefully colouring in all the minutely detailed images! I find myself focusing more on producing a really super piece of artwork than actually contemplating the Word! I have this issue because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and far from finding it relaxing, I am finding it a bit of a chore. I’ve gone back to my ‘ordinary’ Bible and notice I read a lot more of the Word that way, without the constant distraction of art. So I’m not even sure if it’s a good idea or not? Just a thought… /:-/

      1. The ladies at my church are starting up a class on this. I will not be attending. I agree with Emma K. wholeheartedly.

  38. I really appreciated this post. I’ve been a card maker for over ten years and have increasingly noticed “Bible journaling” supplies anywhere I shop for card making supplies. Like another woman on here said, it immediately troubled me when I was aware of it. I found your post today while Googling around to try to figure out exactly what this was. I’ve always known people who made concise notes in the margins of their study Bibles, and it doesn’t bother me at all. But this does. A Bible is to be read and studied, not turned into an art project. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of this–and believe me, I’m as guilty as anyone of not reading the Bible enough–is that if you’re actually sitting there holding the Bible, that time would be better spent reading it than altering it.

  39. I appreciate your article, and agree that the words should remain visible. Here’s a perspective…. some people didn’t grow up knowing the bible at all. Maybe they had a bible that was never read. They weren’t taught that couldn’t be marked. It was sacred though. Maybe so much so that it was so “untouchable” So, I think it’s great to see them open a bible, search for a scripture to elaborate on…. one that speaks to them. To slow down and get to know the verses like they never have before. Maybe even to buy a second bible for their daughter and create “journaling nights” where they pick out a section of scripture, and color while discussing the meaning. To see how they both interpret through art, their shared God given talent. Maybe these visual learners can”hear” God in a whole new way. And maybe looking forward to these times encourages evenmore consistent bible time.
    Just a thought. I get that they could use separate paper to draw on.

    1. Yes. Great thoughts. I agree that to some it was a sacred book, not to be touched. To some extent that was my home. But my grandmother talked about the Bible so much that I wanted to see for myself. 😊 I hope parents will continue to read it and look for ways – without destroying it – to share it with their children. Thank you for your comment!

  40. Thanks so very much for this article. I’ve recently noticed so many Bible journaling pins on Pinterest and have become concerned about it. I always thought that when talking about journaling, people were speaking of keeping a written journal of their Bible study. Then I discovered what it actually is. I guess my primary concern is whether the artwork has become more important to people than the actual study of God’s word itself. Some who keep the journals and share their photos seem to use them to show off what they can do rather than to celebrate God’s word. Also, even if the words can still be seen through the artwork, it must be distracting. I don’t like seeing the words of God covered. It also concerns me that publishers are actually printing Bibles just for this purpose. And am I understanding correctly that some even have the designs superimposed and ready to be colored? Am I wrong in thinking they are turning the Bible, a sacred test, into a coloring book? This seems more a money making project on the part of publishers. How about just printing a coloring book to go along with the Bible and use that instead. I guess I would be called old fashioned, but I think some of these projects go a little too far.

    1. I don’t know about Bibles being published with artwork over the text. I have one that has artwork to color on the margins. I use it like a coloring book really but none of the art goes over the text. I agree, obviously, with everything you mentioned. I think people are starting off with good intentions in doing this but I also think it can be a slippery slope. I pray that people are still actually reading God’s word.

    2. Anna, I agree with your entire comment; this part jumped out at me: “I guess my primary concern is whether the artwork has become more important to people than the actual study of God’s word itself. Some who keep the journals and share their photos seem to use them to show off what they can do rather than to celebrate God’s word.” You said this better than I ever could. I underline certain things with different Micron pens for permanence, no bleed-through, and different colors for only MY study. No words are covered up. I could never do that. It is extremely personal to me. Thank you so much for this comment! Linda

      1. What led me to looking for more information about journaling was a photo I saw online. The Bible was filled with coloring, sticky notes, etc. to the point that it looked to be twice its original size. And a caption beneath the photo was to the effect, and I may not be quoting it perfectly, “This is what I want my Bible to look like someday.” For some reason that just hit me the wrong way. I do hope my Bible looks like I pick it up on a daily basis and actually study it. I do underline text. And I do make notes in the margin when the preacher says something that hits me deeply or if he says read this or that for a better understanding. And maybe I’m being judgmental, it probably wouldn’t be the first time! But we’re so lucky to have the printed Word to study! Just thinking about covering it up with colored markers makes me shiver. Anything that distracts from the actual study is something that I couldn’t do, and it would distract me to no end. And I so agree with what you said about studying the Bible being a personal thing. I’m not ashamed to share with others what I’ve underlined or the notes I’ve taken. We share in that manner in Sunday School and church all the time, being a small group that knows each other. But many of the photos and notes I’ve seen posted online seem over the top. It makes me think of the scripture in Matthew that says when you pray, go into your closet, shut the door, and pray to your Father unseen.

    3. I agree, Anna. I’ve been a card maker for over ten years, so I fully understand the lure of using these materials. But a hobby or craft and Bible study are two different things. It makes me uncomfortable to see the Bible being treated like a hobby.

      1. I almost used the word “hobby” in my original post but wondered if I might be going too far!

  41. I absolutely agree. I have been seeing these photos online for about a year and did take an interest in it myself but was disturbed in text covering. I liked the colouring aspect in some pages. And was interested in margin colouring but I think my intent was wrong. I wanted a colouring book. The Bible should NEVER become a colouring book. It’s morally wrong and disrespectful. Get a Christian colouring book if you need that outlet. Like I did so.
    I see no problem with highlighting and note taking as you can read the words and it brings you closer to understanding the Word of God. However, there is something sinister of the heart and its intent if people are covering text so you can’t read it. It isn’t about God’s Word anymore. The Bible has become a junk journal or scrapbook…it isn’t sacred. I don’t see why people can’t just get a normal journal or colouring book like I did..and do that..not by painting over and defacing God’s Word. If doing art in your bible helps you learn the Word and get closer to God, then do it. But don’t use God’s Word as an art project.

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