Why Bible Emoji doesn’t bother me

Johnathan Kana

Johnathan Kana
June 6, 2016

There is a missional aspect to Bible Emoji that trumps its admitted shortcomings.

June 6, 2016

Emoji's are images. Isn't it dangerous to depict the Trinity with mundane images, knowing that we cannot compare God to any image created by man? And I agree that emojis may do interpretative violence with the original text. Take for example the Gen. 1:1 emoji verse. We all know that God has no halo, and the heavens refers to space and not stars, though the emoji for the word earth is considerable. I checked the link that was provided in the article about bible illiteracy, and according to that article, the main reasons for bible illiteracy are distractions, misplaced priorities, unwarranted overconfidence, and the pretext of being too busy--linguistic distance was not mentioned. As what I have read somewhere, the Bible does not need to be rewritten. It needs to be re-read. If we really want to understand the Bible, we don't need a new version of the bible, we need a new heart. A heart with no thorns (Matthew 13:22). Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial, as what Apostle Paul said.

June 6, 2016

In Reply to David (comment #28376)

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, David. Your opinion and observations are shared by many, and I respect where you're coming from. I hope that much was clear above.

To clarify, I didn't mean to suggest that linguistic distance is a primary cause of biblical illiteracy. It's the other way around: because biblical illiteracy is a real problem, there's a pretty good chance that even within the church many will ignore the additional linguistic distance that this "translation of a translation" introduces. So there's a greater likelihood of Bible Emoji being used in an irresponsible way--which actually helps make your case and undermines my own. I brought it up because I want readers to understand that I'm not without my own reservations. I'm just persuaded that they don't have to be the end of the story on where we go with this, now that it's out there in the world.

(For the record, I'm still on the fence about whether the haloed smiley face is a violation of the Second Commandment or not. Personally, I wish that the creator had forgone any icons for members of the Trinity. It's intriguing that Jesus has no emoji whatsoever...that seems a bit, well, odd. Almost like an oversight.)

It would be so easy to tear this thing apart. Which is why I guess I couldn't help wondering whether and how the Spirit might be trying to use it for something. It's interesting that you mention Paul's observation about what is "beneficial," because that's essentially what makes me like this Bible version. For all its faults, what it gets right is that it benefits (or at least aims to benefit) millennials who might otherwise be closed to letting God speak to them from the Word because of an erroneous presupposition about what the Bible is and Who the God of the Bible is. It tries to knock gently on a door that has already been slammed shut.

I cringe a bit at the haloed smiley face, personally. But I do imagine that when a non-Christian sees that one of his or her Christian peers feels comfortable tweeting a Bible verse that depicts God that way--approachable and friendly rather than distant and judgmental--perhaps a small barrier breaks down in that person's heart. It's so different from the God they've conditioned themselves to think about that perhaps it opens them up to having a fruitful conversation about the continuing relevance of the Bible.

I could certainly be wrong about this. And what's "beneficial" in one context might be damaging in another. Bible Emoji would definitely be in the spiritual "milk" category for me...not yet the "solid food" (Heb 5:11-14) that I'd hope its readers eventually feast upon. But maybe it's like the picture Bibles I read to my son at night. Reductions? Sure. Irreverent? Not in my opinion. But it's still just an opinion.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, and for respecting me enough to let me share mine.

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