The standard works, digital vs. print: What works for you?

Published: Thursday, April 18 2013 5:30 a.m. MDT

Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have various opinions regarding the pros and cons of using digital scriptures and the traditional print scriptures.

LDS Church

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have always been encouraged to study the scriptures each day, both individually and as families.

"The scriptures testify of God and contain the words of eternal life," President Thomas S. Monson said in the priesthood session earlier this month. "They become the foundation of our message."

But church members have never had so many options for accessing the standard works.

The 2013 version of the scriptures, released March 1 with improved study aids, new photos, maps and other minor changes, are available online through any digital format or mobile device.

A print edition, however, won't be available until August.

Ready or not, more church members are embracing technology and the use of electronic scriptures through tablets, cellphones and other digital devices. They are free to download and easy to carry. Fewer members appear to be lugging around their 10-pound tote.

"I prefer electronic scriptures for church so I don't have to carry bulky scriptures with my kids," said Dave Kimball, a Taylorsville resident.

"I like electronic because I can also check the scores or leaderboard and everyone just thinks I'm looking up a scripture," joked Rod Gardner, an honest member from Garland who raises the obvious issue of distraction.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve recently shared his thoughts on the matter, but opinions among church members vary as to which is best. Some are fascinated by the speed at which they can locate sources and enhance their personal study with electronic scriptures, while others prefer the traditional study methods. Others say they are too distracted or tempted by additional features on their fancy gadgets.

"To me, it is the difference between fast food and a home cooked meal. I am very traditional about it, but I don't get the same feeling from digital versions," said Linda Cammack of Ogden. "With the book, I like that it has one purpose — learning the gospel. No games or status updates or puppy videos are there to distract from the real intent."

Benefits to both

As someone who has directed the development of nuclear fuel for a wide variety of naval and land-based power plants, and who has a natural curiosity about how things work, Elder Scott is open to embracing various types of technology as a way to spread and teach the gospel, according to an October 2009 Mormonchannel.org interview.

When asked about the pros and cons of technology related to the onward march of the church, Elder Scott discussed benefits of both digital and print scriptures. There are great blessings that can come from using technology, the apostle said.

"It’s very easy with a computer, if you’re going to give a talk, to word-search, pick out scriptures, find and organize," Elder Scott said.

He also added, "There is nothing like hefting the book in your hand, reading and marking your own volume of scriptures."

When a personal electronic device is used with discipline, it can be a tool of protection, Elder Scott said in his recent general conference address.

"Who could have imagined not very many years ago that the full standard works and years of general conference messages would fit into your pocket? Just having them in your pocket will not protect you, but studying, pondering and listening to them during quiet moments of each day will enhance communication through the Spirit," the apostle said.

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