Replacing God’s Words with Emoji?

bible-1108074_960_720At the end of May, a new Bible was published. It is called Bible Emoji: scripture 4 millenials. (The misspelling of “millennials” is intentional by the editor.) This “translation” replaces as many biblical words as possible with Internet abbreviations, Internet slang, and Internet cartoon images such as smiley faces, praying hands, and peek-a-boo eyes. Liam Stack describes this Bible in The New York Times: “It contains more than 3,000 pages of smiling yellow faces, twinkling stars and cartoon serpents. Angel emojis descend from the heavens, bush emojis burn and ocean emojis are parted.”

The publication of this paraphrase provides an occasion to remind ourselves of the respect that man should have for the words of God and the discipline of translating it accurately. Consider the following points:

  • Every word of Scripture comes from the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:11-13; 2 Peter 1:20-21), and thus we may not tamper with it. (We may not replace His words with cartoons.)
  • Every word of Scripture is designed to produce faith (Romans 10:17). This means that God has chosen human language (not icons) as the means to convey information to man.
  • Every word of Scripture is God-breathed, and therefore must be respected (2 Timothy 3:16). Thus Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
  • Every word of Scripture is perfect. The psalmist said, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalms 19:7-8).

We must never make a mockery of God’s word. King Jehoiakim once cut out parts of Jeremiah’s scroll and burned them. God’s judgment against this wicked king was as follows: “He shall have none to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night. And I will punish him and his offspring and his servants for their iniquity” (Jeremiah 36:30-31). God’s insistence that we respect His word is no different in the New Testament age (John 12:48; Revelation 1:2-3).

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- 2017