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.