SUMMARY: Within many Christian and non-Christian circles there is an underlying assumption that technology will outpace humans; that we will unleash an evil or divine secret we were never meant to uncover. Author Tony Reinke says hogwash.
“Every inventor, every invention, every use of every invention, and every outcome from every invention–they fall under the Creator’s disposal,” Reinke writes.
If there is one theme that stands out in God, Technology, and the Christian Life it is that God is in control. The analogy Reinke makes is that God has given us a 55-gallon drum teeming with Lego bricks. To the human mind, the possibilities seem endless, but the God who created the world and proclaimed it very good on the sixth day has put limits in place while burying “divine secrets” throughout his creation. The same God that allowed nuclear energy to be discovered is the same God who came to earth as a carpenter. This is the beginning of Reinke laying the foundation for a Christian theology on technology.
“No technology is ambivalent; each one comes with certain biases and tendencies,” Reinke pens. “The true challenge of ethics is not in determining which technologies should be made possible but in determining how those new possibilities are wielded. Thus, Scripture puts the emphasis not on the technology, but on how those innovations are used.”
The book weaves quotes from nine historic voices (John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, Jacques Ellul, Wendell Berry, Kevin Kelly, Elon Musk, and Yuval Noah Harari) on the foundation of nine scriptural texts (Gen. 4:1-26, 6:11-22, 11:1-9; 1 Samuel 17:1-58; Job 28:1-28; Psalm 20:1-9; Isiah 28: 23-29, 54:16-17 and Revelation 18:1-24) as he debunks twelve common myths about technology (see below).
12 common myths about technology:
- Human innovation is an inorganic imposition forced onto the created order
- Humans set the technological limits and possibilities over creation
- Human innovation is autonomous, unlimited, and unchecked
- God is unrelated to the improvements of human innovation
- Non-Christian inventors cannot fulfill the will of God
- God will send the most beneficial innovations through Christians
- Humans can unleash techo-powers beyond the control of God
- Innovations are good as long as they are pragmatically useful
- God governs only virtuous technologies
- God didn’t have the iPhone in mind when He created the world
- Our discovery of atomic power was a mistake that God never intended
- Christian flourishing hinges on my adoption or rejection of the technium
The first half of the book focuses on where our technology comes from. Reinke, a self-professed tech optimist, says science, which is not to be feared, is the process of identifying the patterns in creation while technology, which is also not be feared, is the process of exploiting the patterns in creation. Only that which God allows to be discovered will be discovered.
“The technologies in our hands spring from the patterns of the earth. The Creator controls the raw materials put into the ground for us to discover and use. He controls the natural laws for the technologies we create. He gives us scientists who explore the patterns and innovators who exploit the patterns into new tech for us to use. The process works because it follows the voice of the Creator.”
In the second half, Reinke turns a critical lens toward what he terms the “Gospel of Technology.” A gospel that, “like the gospel of Jesus Christ, operates by its own worldview, and has its own understanding of creation, fall redemption, faith, ethics, eschatology–its own telos and endgame.”
According to the Gospel of Technology, “man came from nothing, and he is accountable to no one…there is no fall of man, only impediments to the rise of man. The struggle is against the control of myself, my image, my body, my gender, my living space, my sex expression, my life span, my productivity, my potential.”
“The Gospel of Technology promises to simplify our lives and give us more free time, stronger relationships, added security, and better societies. Too often, what are we left with? More complex lives, less free time, increased loneliness, added insecurities, and amplified social inequality.”
The Gospel of Technology is in direct conflict with the Gospel of Jesus. Reinke sums up the distinction between the two poignantly, “Do we have eternal hope through the grave or by avoiding the grave?”
So, how should Christians approach technology? With thankfulness and worship.
“We show our gratitude to the Giver by refusing to become addicts to his gifts. Instead, we pray for the wisdom to use his gifts in a spirit of Godward gratitude and restraint as the precious things he has blessed us with.”
There is a lot to think about and digest in this book. It is challenging, insightful, and full of wisdom. There are just five chapters in an almost 300-page book so getting through some of the chapters can be tedious. With that said, this is simply the best book for providing a framework on how a Christian can approach technology from a Biblical perspective. Highly recommended.
KEY QUOTE: “Christ’s supremacy over all things means that Christians flourishing does not hinge on my adoption or rejection of certain technologies. It hinges on my heart’s focus on the Savior…Whether we buy a seat on a spaceship rendezvous to the moon or stay within the confines of an Amish-like commune, we will find no hope apart from our union to Christ…He frees us from slavery to the technological desires of self-creation and self-determining individualism…Our gadgets and techno-possibilities no longer define us; Christ does. He defines our calling. If we follow his word, we will be protected from being used by our tools.”
BONUS: Read the first chapter of his book from Crossway.com (PDF).
BONUS II: Listen to Reinke discuss his book on the Device & Virtue podcast. Even if you do not read the book, we highly recommend this podcast as you will hear Reinke’s passion when he talks about technology and the Christian life.
DID YOU KNOW? Sunday to Saturday has a Good Reads page where we post all of the books we have read – even the ones that didn’t make the cut.
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