On September 30, 1952, our United States Postal Service issued a 3-cent stamp commemorating the 500th anniversary of the printing of the first book with movable type. Johann Gutenberg (c.1397-1468) invented the moveable-type press and printed his version of the Bible with 42 lines per page in 1452. In the providence of God, this advanced printing technology paved the way for a publishing priest whose ideas and publications would dramatically change the world forever.
The Protestant Reformation was ignited when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517. It is impossible to overestimate the role of Gutenberg’s cutting-edge technology to the spread of Luther’s reformation-call to return to the ancient truth. Dr. Barry Waugh in his two-part article on the Importance of the Printing Press for the Protestant Reformation on the website of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has observed, Martin Luther embraced printing technology and efficiently used it for the distribution of his writings, but most importantly for his readers, the printing press provided the German Bible so that all could read the Word of God.
The need for people to read the Word of God in their own language is greater than ever before. In many countries of the former Soviet Union, the Russian language is beginning to fade as the theological language of choice, and at the same time there is a growing demand for the Bible and other Christian literature written in indigenous heart-languages.
For example, in one of the restricted-access Central Asian republics where READ supports the theological education of church leaders, there is a new training track being offered in the native language. The need for literature resources to support this training will not be met by traditional, expensive publishing technologies. But digital libraries and print-on-demand printing systems can provide low-cost, locally produced materials for this new generation of reader and church leader.
This spreading of ancient truths through advanced technology is a passion of READ Ministries and the theme of our two upcoming Fall Fundraising Events. READ embraces this new technology and seeks to efficiently use it for the distribution of God’s Truth so all can read the Word of God. I believe that in God’s providence, new technology can do for God’s truth what Gutenberg’s did 500 years ago!