First of all, I’m not privy to the meetings the members of the Quorum of the Twelve attend, and the minutes aren’t published. So I don’t know what they talk about amongst themselves. Over the last few years I’ve heard all kinds of opinions from members of the church regarding the proliferation of digital devices with scriptures loaded onto them. People’s views range from “I’ll stick to my sturdy hardbound scriptures, thank you very much” to “I’ll never go back! I love studying my scriptures on my iPad!” and everywhere in between. I’ve heard some people worry that missionaries won’t be able to use digital scriptures in the mission field so they’re being hobbled by using them in high school. Others feel like the note-taking freedom on a digital device trumps anything the hardbound version can offer.
There are pros and cons for each, but I’m interested in what the Brethren think. What do they see? A couple things to keep in mind:
1. The LDS Library app is an official app from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Those ideas are under the direction of the Twelve as well as the Seventy.
2. There are anecdotal stories of members of the Quorum of the Twelve going paperless (or nearly) as they move to iPads. Elder Bednar used his iPad profusely as he addressed Church Educational teachers a few years ago. Apparently he did a similar thing in the MTC this last Christmas. A sister missionary who is able to blog her experiences from the mission field shared this experience:
And then I got to sit second row in a historical devotional! They passed out 200 cellphones into the auditorium full of missionaries and then displayed a number to which we could text in questions we had. Elder Bednar had a “magic iPad” that would display all the questions that were texted in and he’d would simultaneously answer the questions as they were being sent in. The phones were passed around as the meeting took place and the entire devotional was in “question and answer” format. I loved it. (Sister Calea Bagley)
3. The password to most wifi signals in most LDS buildings is widely known by church members with no real effort on the church’s side to hide it.
4. On a related note, a few members of the Twelve have recently started using Twitter.
And then there was this recent thought by Elder Ballard as he addressed the young adults in a CES Fireside:
I know that many of you have your scriptures and other Church resources on your phones and tablets. And I’ve even heard that some parents and Church leaders are concerned about this newest development, but I am not.
He went on to teach:
The Church has always adopted advances in technology to help push the work of the Lord forward. We began sending our missionaries on sailing ships in the 1830s, but we adopted the advances offered by steamships in the 1860s. And then we embraced airlines as the best means to get our missionaries to their assignments throughout the world in the 1960s.
History does repeat itself in the most interesting ways. In the past, Israel preserved the words of the prophets on scrolls. At some point, the early Christians adopted the codex, the early version of the modern book.
Here we are 2,000 years later, and you young people are reading your scriptures on smartphones or tablets—reading them as Jesus did when He was given an Isaiah scroll to read from in Nazareth. (Ballard, “Be Still, and Know That I Am God”, 2014)
People are free to use their preferred set of scriptures. But I thought it would be interesting to see a little of what our church leaders have expressed so that we stay balanced in our view of how the scriptures can be studied.