Beware the Instagram Bible, my daughters – those filtered frames festooned with feathered verses, adorned in all manner of loops and tails, bedecked with blossoms, saturated with sunsets, culled and curated just for you.
Beware lest it become for you your source of daily bread. It is telling a partial truth.
I saw in my vision by night, and behold, I dreamed of a world in which every copy of the Bible was gone, except those portions we had preserved on Instagram. Consider this Bible, my daughters, if you will:
Its perfect squares are friend to the proverb, the promise, and the partial quote, leaving laws, lists, land-allotments, and long-stretching lessons to languish off-screen.
It comforts but rarely convicts.
It emotes but rarely exhorts.
It warms but rarely warns.
It promises but rarely prompts.
It moves but does not mortify.
It builds self-assurance but balks at self-examination.
It assembles an iconography whose artists, by spatial necessity, are constrained to choose
brevity over breadth,
inspiration over intellect,
devotion over doctrine.
Beware its conscribed canvas, where calligraphy conquers context.
If the Prosperity Gospel offered us all the things, the Instagram Gospel offers us all the feels. It preaches good news in part, but we need the whole. It may move us in the moment, but it cannot sustain us through the storm.
My daughters, do not misunderstand. Like you, I do not wish to pull up my Insta account to find Levitical laws picked out in filigree and flowers. Nor do I desire genealogies superimposed on sunsets. I do not harbor a puritanical hatred of beauty, nor do I detest the illumination of a holy text by an ardent scribe. May I be the first to hit “like” on a timeless word of encouragement.
I do not ask the Instagram Bible to be all things. I can value, even enjoy it for what it is. But drawn by the glow of its inviting warmth, I must ask myself - and you - to view it with care,
lest we love the part in place of the whole.
Lest we live as those in a vision by night, as those ensnared in a dream.
Beware the Instagram Bible, my daughters. It shines a partial light. We must know it both for what it says, and for what it does not.
(This blog originally appeared on Jen Wilkin's Blog)