Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Crossing Swords with Mac Bible Software (Part 3)

Is Bible Software Harmful?

Bible software has much to offer, but if misused it can contribute to a decline of wisdom, diminish our ability to internalize God's Word wisely, allow us to overlook the importance of context, and can turn our study of the Bible into a search for material to support our preconceptions. Bible software can also contribute, somewhat ironically, to biblical illiteracy. For example, some may no longer see a need to internalize Scripture by memorizing portions of it. After all, if the entire Bible is at our fingertips via software, why bother memorizing it? Or why bother studying it? In addition, a search for a key word or phrase may simply serve as a way to support personal prejudices. If we search for what we'd like to find, facilitated by Bible software, we will probably find what we want. But at what expense? We may end up with a laundry list of verses, but are they interpreted in context?

If we apply the Google mentality to Bible software searches, we're in trouble. God's Word does not work that way. We can't merely expect to look at some of the top "hits" and find what we want, much less understand it. Bible software does offer many benefits, but our usage of it must be tempered. We cannot become so enamored with the many abilities of Bible software that we lose sight of the pursuit of wisdom and understanding when it comes to Bible study and reading. The Bible is much more than digital fragments—it is a cohesive whole, meant to be savored, studied, pondered, internalized, and understood in a proper context. With that said, by definition Bible software does not contribute to a decline in our deeper understanding of the Bible, but can indeed contribute to our maturity and growth. Still, we need to be careful how we utilize any technology.

The Sharper Sword

Both Accordance and Logos are powerful Bible software packages. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, but in general they offer comparable features and resource availability. Perhaps the biggest draw in favor of Logos will come from former Windows users who already have quite an extensive reference library they'd like to access natively on a Mac rather than having to run Windows virtualization software such as Parallels, VMware Fusion, or Apple's own Boot Camp, which requires a reboot to run Windows. Accordance, on the other hand, has nearly 16 years of native Mac development experience backing its impressive software that, besides the search exceptions noted, is very fast and polished.

If it comes down to selecting Accordance or Logos, what's a Mac user to do? I use both, but realize that option is not feasible for everyone. My main reason for getting the Mac version of Logos/Libronix was to avoid having to run Windows just to access Bible reference works, but I often find that I switch between Accordance and Logos on my Mac depending on what sort of task is at hand. As far as quick usability is concerned in relation to fairly simple searches, I turn to Accordance. If I want a fast overview of a topic, word study, or passage, I turn to Logos.

But what if I could only choose Accordance or Logos? If pressed, and forced to delete one or the other, I'd have to give the edge to keeping Accordance. OakTree's longevity, attention to detail, and commitment to the Mac platform are proven, while Logos on Mac is still a 1.2 product. Granted, Logos will soon be available as a version 4 product on Mac, but however you look at it Logos on Mac has only been around for a little over a year, while Accordance has more than 15 years behind its ongoing development. That's not to say that Logos won't ever catch up to the polish offered in Accordance, but it does mean that it could take some time for that to happen. OakTree Software, on the other hand, is completely committed to the Mac platform, allowing its developers to concentrate exclusively on the Mac user experience.

Nevertheless, whether you opt for Accordance, Logos, or both, each package offers a great deal, allowing contemporary users to tap into a vast library of Christian resources useful for Bible study, devotions, and more. Moreover, competition in the Bible software arena on the Mac will, one would hope, result in ongoing innovation. Only time will tell what Accordance and Logos have in mind for the future of Bible software. Also, keep in mind that if your Bible software needs are simple you may get by just fine with an online resources such as Bible Gateway or free software. Neither experience, however, will compare with the attention to detail and the scope of capabilities available in both Accordance and Logos.

Hebrews 4:12 describes God's Word as, "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart," (ESV) while Ephesians 6:17 refers to it as "the sword of the Spirit." Both Accordance and Logos provide powerful software to wield the sword of God's Word, and, in that regard, both deserve credit for providing excellent tools to help users delve deeper into truth. At this point, though, the sharper sword is contained in Accordance.

See Part 1
See Part 2

1 comment:

Rick Bennett said...

Great summary in this last post. There is a lot to say about 16 years of dedicated Mac development.

One point that I personally disagree with is that L4 Mac will be a v. 4.0 product when it eventually ships. Even though it is planned to be at a level of feature parity with its Windows counterpart, it will effectively be a 1.0. This isn't to discount the immense amount of work that has gone in to it thus far (and until it is released).

I hope that in the coming months users will be as informed as you are in their research and not simply fall prey to savvy marketing and prizes before making an important decision on which Mac Bible app to choose.

Thanks again for the informed review.