A few months ago I was in Australia, and a friend was driving me to a nearby university so I could speak to a campus group. We were driving the city streets in the stop-and-go rush hour traffic and beside us was a guy driving a bright yellow sports car—a Lotus. Now a Lotus is far too much car for crawling through urban traffic, but this driver was committed to having his fun. He would consistently hang back at the traffic lights until the rest of the drivers had gotten ahead of him. Then he would stomp on the gas pedal, and in 3 or 4 seconds accelerate to far beyond the posted speed limit. No sooner would he get up to speed than he would have to stomp on the brake before the next red light. He did this again and again, and I watched with a mix of amusement and fascination.
This is kind of how I feel when I use Logos Bible Software, like it is a sports car bursting with power and I am just barely tapping its capabilities. I have dabbled with Logos for quite a while, and with the recent release of Logos 6 I determined I would commit to it all the way. Where I had been collecting printed commentaries and theological works, I made the decision to switch to electronic ones. But even while I enjoy the software and use it on a regular basis, I know that there is so much more it could do for me.
For a while now I have wanted to provide some reflections on Logos 6, but the system is so huge and so powerful I hardly know where to begin. So let me simply offer a few personal reflections on what I love (and what I don’t love) about Logos.
I love Logos as a tool and system for helping me study and understand the Bible. Logos is an incredibly powerful resource for searching for information related to any passage of the Bible and for presenting it in helpful ways. Every time I click Guides, then Sermon Starter Guide, and type in a text, I am amazed at the sheer quantity of helpful information Logos presents me. Over the past few months I have prepared my sermons without any print material and have not missed my printed commentaries at all. As Logos matures these searches continue to get more powerful and more helpful.
I don’t love the way Logos bullies my computer. A little while ago I texted a friend, “If I’m ever found disqualified from ministry it will definitely be Logos’ fault.” Specifically, it will be related to outbursts of anger. For some reason Logos seems to need more power than my computer is willing or able to give it–and my computer is a latest-generation iMac. Here’s a typical sequence of events: Last week I began to prepare a sermon and noted that it had been a couple of weeks since I last opened Logos on that computer. As soon as I opened Logos it began to download an update which, though only a hundred megabytes, took a long time to download while consuming quite a lot of my computer’s processing power, thus slowing down every other app. When the download was complete, I had to restart Logos. Then it wanted to update my library, which involved more time and more downloading. When that was done, I had to restart Logos again, at which point it started reindexing my library which took about 2 hours of chewing up all of my computer’s available processing power. This entire process took about 3 hours—my entire morning dedicated to sermon-preparation was instead given to sermon-preparation-preparation. For all that Logos does, this is far and away my most consistent concern—the sheer volume of updates Logos requires and the way these updates devastate my computer while they are ongoing. Even today I opened Logos for the first time in several days and it took 3-4 minutes of heavy processing simply to open and prepare itself for use. This has been a consistent and consistently annoying flaw since Logos came to Mac, and I hope they can resolve it soon.
I love Logos as a teaching resource. Logos now offers video courses that can be taken through the software. These courses are professional and personal, with good theologians speaking straight into the camera, nicely mimicking a classroom feel. I can now sit at my computer and watch while Douglas Moo teaches the book of Romans, then read the coursework and make my notes directly in the software. These courses add a powerful benefit to the software.
I don’t love the way Logos’ base packages are composed of so much, for lack of a better word, junk. When you purchase Logos you will typically purchase a base package composed of hundreds or thousands of products. But the numbers are deceiving because much of that material is simply not that useful–poor commentaries, useless books, and so on. Logos cannot be better than the resources you give it, and your experience will be diminished if you rely on the out-of-the-box resources. It is far better, I think, to buy a lower package and spend your money on high-quality resources. Quantity cannot overcome the quality of your resources.
I love Logos’ language capabilities. I have never studied Hebrew and have only rudimentary knowledge of Greek, and find that Logos can help me in my ignorance. I’ve always heard it said that a little bit of Greek is far worse than no Greek at all, but I think Logos can prove helpful there, showing information that was previously accessible only to people who knew the language well.
I love being able to access Logos on my computer, and on my mobile devices. I love that notes I take on my computer are immediately available on the mobile devices as well.