You know how you read a post and the author sounds angry…or judgemental (maybe both) – and you leave the site feeling condemned?  Oh, my, if people ever felt like that after reading any of my posts, I’d be quite concerned about what I was writing!  Convicted – yes (this comes from the Holy Spirit).  Condemned – never – because it would come from me.  But finding these kinds of posts is pretty easy – even when you search for a topic as harmless as Bible journaling.  Wow!  There are some strong opinions out there!  And, friends, that is exactly what they are – opinions.  So, I thought I’d address the question Is Bible Journaling Wrong? Or Even Evil? in my last post in the series.

Your desire is to live in obedience to God because of your love and devotion to Him. You are also a creative person and you’ve heard about Bible journaling. You love the idea and you see it as a way to draw you and the Lord even closer. But you’ve also heard bad things about it – bad enough to make you worry that you might be doing the devil’s work. You wonder Is Bible Journaling Wrong? Or Even Evil? I address these questions in this post.

There are a few arguments out there against Bible journaling – let’s go one-by-one.

It Will Replace True Bible Study

This seems to be the biggest argument against Bible journaling.  You know, I am tired of hearing this argument because it assumes that anyone who Bible journals is an idiot and completely gullible – helpless against the flesh.  It assumes that their faith and self-control is very weak.  Let me say this:

I have yet to meet someone who is dim-witted enough to actually think that Bible journaling is a substitute for in-depth, fruitful Bible Study.

You see, Bible journaling ideas and inspiration don’t just magically pop into my head out of nowhere.  My ideas are motivated and stirred through my in-depth Bible study!  When I read a passage of Scripture, meditate on it, consider what God is saying, what God wants to teach me, and think of how I can apply it to my life – that’s when I might be inspired to journal.  Then, if I have a bit of extra time, I just may journal.

IF Bible journaling ever took the place of actual Bible study in my life, then that is a heart issue.  Not a Bible journaling issue.

It Is Satan’s Work

Bible journaling is being called the work of the devil by some.  Now that can be scary, can’t it?  I mean I never want to be caught up in the work of the devil!  Especially when I am reading the word of God!  YIKES!

And…to say another Christian is under the devil’s influence is quite an allegation to be making against your sister in Christ, wouldn’t you say?  

Years ago, I was part of a church that split and I overheard an incredibly angry woman declare that the remaining members of the church were under the influence of Satan and doing his work.  Honestly, I just felt sorry for this woman – she was the one who was so angry!  So malicious!  As Christians, we do not need to be so quick to pronounce that another Christian is working for Satan when we do not agree with what they are doing, saying, or believing.  

It simply is not fruitful.  

And it is wrong.  

I know the devastation this kind of accusation can cause.  The pain lasts a very long time.  The scars never quite heal.  This is NOT the kind of accusation to make against the Bride of Christ casually – or spitefully.  Or out of ignorance…or pride.  This kind of behavior is just to make trouble, cause strife, and divisiveness.   

I read a comment on one post where the commenter went as far as to say that Bible journaling is another way the devil is corrupting faithful people…then I look at her gravatar (from Nightmare Before Christmas, perhaps?  Never seen the movie, but the image caused me to investigate further).  I click on her name and I am taken to her Facebook page – which has a horror movie character on the cover.  As I scroll through her wall, I see it is littered with OMG, wtf, and other curse words as well as posts with sexual innuendos.  And here she was concerned about Bible journaling giving Satan a foothold…  

I think there much bigger issues to deal with than whether or not other Christians should be drawing in their Bibles.  Take Note: Be careful to whom you listen to!

It Is Disrespectful and Dishonoring

Some people believe that writing in their Bible dishonors God.  I can understand this idea and I would not hesitate to respect that belief.  However, things get a bit dangerous when that belief leads to accusing other Christians of not honoring God or being deceived by Satan because they do write (or draw) in their Bible (see above).  And that is what I take issue with.  

If you know my story – if you know what God has brought me through, then you would expect to find a woman who reveres God with her whole heart.  

And that’s the key word right there, friends – heart.  I could say that writing or drawing in my Bible dishonors God and then go for coffee with my church friends and gossip about the Pastor’s Wife.  Or I could be in the check-out at the grocery store and treat the cashier with disdain because she has tattoos and piercings (or for whatever reason).  On Sunday, I could glare at the young mom sitting in the pew trying to keep her toddler quiet – or maybe just be judging her in my heart.  

But, hey, I don’t write in my Bible like those heathens do.  I honor God by keeping my Bible clean and wrinkle free.

Your Heart

Do you get what I am saying here?  We get so focused on some silly thing being dishonorable and we begin to lose sight of LOVE.  We disregard the condition of our own hearts because we are so consumed by what others are doing.  A good reading of Matthew 15 might be helpful for some who are so wrapped up in man’s teachings.  

And you know what?  I would think that flippantly and angrily saying a fellow believer is being controlled by Satan (see above) dishonors God much more than writing or drawing in a Bible.

Writing in my Bible and drawing in my Bible Journal helps my heart honor God (see, it’s about my heart.  Not someone else’s).  My notes, highlights, and ‘doodles’ help me to remember who He is and who I am.  To me, this is evidence of a Bible that is well-used, read often, and loved dearly.  Below are some photos of my Bible – the one I use for studying.

I even have post-its in there!

Markings from an incredible study in Romans

My favorite book…

It Distracts From God’s Word

I’ve read in some posts that God’s word can become secondary to my own ‘self-expression’.  It could if my heart wasn’t in the right place.  And, really, I’m not that great of an artist – I don’t think quite that highly about myself.  And my God is so much bigger than my ‘self-expression’.   

Then there is the issue of sharing photos of your Bible journaling and how it leads to pride and competition because you aren’t doing this in your ‘inner room’.  Matthew 6:6 was quoted here – ummm…I think it has been taken way out of context in order to make an argument.  Reading that entire chapter will help you understand the idea of praying in your room.  And you’ll see that it simply does not apply to sharing photos of Bible journaling.      

If you are easily distracted from God’s word by art, then there are more serious issues at play here.  And it has nothing to do with Bible journaling (can you guess where the issue is rooted?). 

It Defaces God’s Word

Another argument was that painting or drawing over the words in scripture is defacing God’s word.  The argument was likened to Thomas Jefferson tearing out pages of God’s word he didn’t like – now, being Canadian, I’m not familiar with this story, so I don’t know how true it is.  BUT…tearing out pages of scripture that is uncomfortable for someone toying with sin is completely different than painting or drawing over words in a Bible as a form of worship after reading a piece of scripture that brought hope to a broken heart.  

Defacing something is solely for the purpose of ruining it, for destruction.  Bible journaling – even full page journaling – is not destroying God’s word (ummm…nothing can destroy His word).  Again, the issue here is the condition of the heart.  Someone who is defacing something will have a hardened heart full of hatred for whatever they are defacing.  Someone who is Bible journai\ling is more likely to have a softened heart full of love and respect for God’s word.  

But I would think that would be just common sense.

It Adds To God’s Word

There are those who believe that for someone to write or draw in their Bible, they are adding to God’s word, which is clearly wrong (Prov 30:5-6, Rev 22:18).  

Now, I know that there are ‘prophets’ out there who declare that they get special revelations from God just so you’ll drink their Kool-Aid (whatever that Kool-Aid might be).  But Bible journaling is a far cry from this kind of madness.  

I highly doubt that anyone who journals in their Bible would dare say they have a brand new revelation from God and, thus, they are adding it to His Holy Word.  

Hey, you know what?  The above statement is simply me thinking the best of someone rather than assuming they are a crazy fool or a complete idiot.  Imagine what would happen if we started to give our brothers and sisters in Christ the benefit of the doubt…especially if the strife is coming from Bible journaling…

God’s word isn’t being changed.  It isn’t being edited.  Bible art journaling actually quotes scripture, usually word-for-word.   

BUT, if it is changed, then the issue is not with Bible journaling.  It’s with the…HEART.

That’s just common sense, too.  Isn’t it?

It Leads to Materialism

OK, this reason is quite unreasonable.  Seriously?  Buying pencil crayons, markers, paints…whatever…leads to materialism and coveting.  I think there is more to it than that.

If I can be lead astray to materialism so easily over coloring tools, then I think I have bigger problems than Bible journaling.  I have a very serious problem with the condition of my what???  Yes, my heart.   

If you are at risk of being led to materialism through Bible journaling supplies, or any other means…know that this has much more to do with some form of bondage deep within your heart than it has to do with actual objects.  Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.    

Additional Thoughts

Most people are linear(auditory)-sequential – meaning learning is step-by-step.  There is a logical progression and thinking is in words.  My husband has this kind of thinking.  Then there are people like me – the visual-spatial.  We think in pictures – holistically.  When I read anything, it is like a movie playing in my mind.  Being a visual-spatial makes Bible journaling very appealing to me.  It is very visual, I see it fully.  It helps me root the word of God deeply within my heart.    

And I think this fact is either overlooked, ignored, or not even considered by those who are against Bible journaling.  To try and squeeze me into a religious mold of who others think I should be would negate who God created me to be.

I wonder if we are just too focused on everything we shouldn’t do and not focused enough on all that we ought to be doing.  What we are doing for His glory should far outweigh our concerns about what others shouldn’t be doing.

My God Is Bigger

The God I serve is so much bigger than such a tertiary issue.  We desperately want to fit Him into our little box so we can understand Him better.  We try to pull Him down to our level, making Him smaller than who He is.  At least we try.  Because we are uncomfortable with things that are out of control.  Things that are beyond our understanding.      

I am working on an in-depth Bible study of the book of John and there is a chapter that touches on this kind of divisive behavior.  If you are interested in this study when it releases this summer, sign up here    

Some questions to consider:

Are you having a critical spirit towards someone who uses Bible journaling to draw closer to God?  

Is there fruit in their life?

Is there fruit in your life?  

What is the condition of your heart?  

Is your concern over a secondary (or even tertiary) issue such as Bible journaling greater than the welfare of a person?  In other words, are you more concerned about being ‘right (in your own eyes) than about the person you are arguing with?  

Has your complaint with a secondary or tertiary issue caused you to lose focus on fulfilling God’s plans for your life?

Your desire is to live in obedience to God because of your love and devotion to Him. You are also a creative person and you’ve heard about Bible journaling. You love the idea and you see it as a way to draw you and the Lord even closer. But you’ve also heard bad things about it – bad enough to make you worry that you might be doing the devil’s work. You wonder Is Bible Journaling Wrong? Or Even Evil? I address these questions in this post.

 

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Aimee Imbeau

Aimee is a wife to an incredible husband, Marcus, and mother to three fabulous children. She works from home as a homeschool support teacher and she homeschools her own children as well. She loves writing abut her faith and decided to give blogging a try in 2013. The rest is history...
  • Sue Fairchild

    Thanks for your post. It is very informative and (mostly) well thought out. I appreciate the opinion on this seemingly divisive subject!

    I see that you linked back to one of my comments from my post on this topic. I’m sad that you chose to insinuate that her comment was unworthy because of things on her Facebook page. You are choosing to judge that person without knowing them based on what their profile picture is and what they have said on their page. And telling others not to listen to her or her opinion. I do think we ALL have MANY issues to deal with and many sins in our life that can give the devil a foothold. Including your judgment of a fellow sister in Christ. Your characterization of her is unfair. All have fallen short. Judge not.

    • Thank you, Sue, for coming over to read my (mostly) well thought out post. I seem to have offended you and I think my point was misunderstood, perhaps. I certainly was not judging the heart nor the character of one of your readers. But I am very prudent in whom I do listen to – this is having wisdom. I am careful from whom I receive teaching from. For example, if I was looking for financial advice, would it be good for me to seek it from a family member who is broke and unwise in their spending habits? Or would it be more prudent of me to seek the advice of someone who has their finances in order and honoring God through it? I would guess the latter. The same with advice on eating healthy. Am I going to listen to someone who dines at McDonald’s regularly and who is sick from it? Or someone who maintains a healthy, balanced diet? This is the same for spiritual matters. Does the walk match the talk? Are they displaying fruit?

      Because I am careful to whom I listen to does not mean I am ‘judging’ the other person – I think some solid teaching on the subject of ‘judge not’ would be beneficial here.

      Anyway, thanks for popping by, reading the post, and leaving a comment.

  • Gaye Austin

    Aimee, the story of Thomas Jefferson is true. He took scissors and cut out the miracles of Jesus and made his own Bible which is known as the Jefferson Bible. Sad but true story. Thank you for tackling such a tough subject. We need to be encouragers not dividers. Good points.

    • Oh, Wow! That is terrible about Thomas Jefferson. And it is weird. Why the miracles of Jesus?
      Yes, we need to be encouragers, building up the body of Christ instead of getting into foolish arguments. And Bible journaling certainly is a foolish argument! There is so much more we can be doing with our lives than bickering over stupid things and making things divisive that should not be. I suppose, though, this understanding comes with spiritual maturity, right? I have to remember that, too. I look back 10 years ago and see how I would get upset over things that I don’t get worked up about now. This is because I have matured a lot in my faith.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Gaye!

      • Gaye Austin

        Here’s a link…he was a deist but was also a follower of Jesus Christ. “He cut out passages with some sort of very sharp blade and, using blank paper, glued down lines from each of the Gospels in four columns, Greek and Latin on one side of the pages, and French and English on the other.”
        This is a telling statement: The Jefferson Bible, as it’s known, is “scripture by subtraction,” writes Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University.

        Here’s the link: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/how-thomas-jefferson-created-his-own-bible-5659505/
        We may never know the “why” until eternity but must trust that he was in his own way a believer in Christ…we can’t say for sure

        Now as far as your post goes; the book of 1Corinthians, Titus and 1Timothy show us the fruitless arguments that are nearly the same as today. We are as Paul said: be enouragers as you go and not let any unwholesome words usher forth from us Eph 4:29

        • That is so fascinating! I wonder what he was thinking when he did that. What was his intention. It might not even be what people think! Thanks for sharing.
          Yes, we have so many fruitless arguments, don’t we? I would much rather be an encourager. Thanks for sharing, Gaye!

  • I had no idea Bible journaling is such a controversial practice. This is very eye-opening, Aimee. You make some helpful points.

    • Yes, Shannon. I believe, though, that people make such topics controversial and divisive when they really shouldn’t be. Instead of looking at something like Bible journaling as another method for some people to draw closer to God, divisive people will work very hard to fin the bad and the evil in it – even if those ‘reasons’ are a stretch. We get into arguments about such things and yet we have so many broken people on our ‘doorstep’, looking for Hope. And writing/drawing in a Bible is the concern??? If so, we have our priorities – and the heart of God – so messed up.