Tech Tools and the Gospel
This post is part one of a three-part series on The Future of Faith: Technology and the Cross. This series grew out of a lunchtime panel discussion hosted in April 2015 by the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry. Facilitated by Carson Reed, the conversation focused on topics such as technology’s impact on community-building, making technology work for the church, and the spiritual implications of artificial intelligence. Thanks to our three panelists, Mindi Thompson, Trevor Thompson, and Robert Oglesby, for translating some of their insights into this blog series.
What do you think of when you hear the word “technology”? Do you view technology as a blessing or a nuisance? When new tools like the iWatch are introduced, are you eager to try them out or quick to discount them as just another fad? What exactly is technology, anyway? Does the Bible have anything to say about it? What should the church do with technology—if anything?
Let’s use a very broad definition of “technology” as anything that makes life easier. Whether it’s as simple as a pencil or as complex as the most advanced computer software, technology should save time, effort, or provide for the protection or comfort of the user. Many times we’re not even aware of the technology which surrounds and permeates our everyday lives. It’s only when technology malfunctions that we remember—with irritation—that technology is supposed to make our lives easier.
The Bible is full of references to technology or tools. Gen 4:19-22 names musicians and metal-workers as some of the first human beings to make use of tools—for the artistic beauty of making music and for more utilitarian functions. God gave human beings wisdom to develop tools and the raw materials to do so. Sometimes technology is used for wrong purposes, such as building the Tower of Babel or making weapons for war. But we can’t blame the tools for the sins of their users. Technology in and of itself is amoral, not immoral. It’s the ones using the technology who determine if the use is for good or ill.
So why not make use of technology in service of the gospel? The Apostle Paul claims “I have become all things to all people so that I might by all possible means save some” (1 Cor 9:22). This is a great example for us. To the technologically savvy, use technology in a way that reaches out to them. To those who don’t have the latest tools, use older technologies that you’re comfortable with. Technology, after all, is just a tool. It’s the message of the gospel that makes all the difference.