A Mini Theology of Technology

Pastor Jim Samra, writing in the new book The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, assembled by Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan (Baker; 2015), pages 67–68:

God has led me to realize that the Bible has much to say about technology — as long as we are willing to use a sufficiently broad definition: “Technology includes all tools, machines, utensils, weapons, instruments, housing, clothing, communicating and transporting devices and the skills by which we produce and use them.”

Stories from the first eleven chapters of Genesis give foundational principles relevant to the use of technology:

(1) Technology is possible because man is created in the image of God (Adam and Eve).

(2) Technology often hinders our ability to recognize our need for God and can be used to attempt to render God unnecessary (Cain).

(3) Technology can free us to sin by attempting to shield us from some of the consequences of sin (Lamech and Tubal-Cain).

(4) Technology is used by God to rescue us, to help alleviate some of the consequences of the fall, and to help us worship God (Noah).

(5) Technology is inherently dangerous because it is the product of purposive human activity, and we need help from God in limiting its use (Tower of Babel).

Of these five, I have found the last one to be the most difficult for people to grasp.

Studying the cross as a form of technology led to my recognizing that technology is dangerous inasmuch as it is constantly tempting us to imagine a better life available to us through technology: to covet and to put our faith in technology rather than God. The cross is associated with the Jewish leaders coveting a world without Jesus (Luke 20:9-19) and their idolatry in embracing Caesar rather than God (John 19:13–16).

A Sweet Twist of Grace

265 years ago John Newton sailed into the port of Charleston and unloaded 150 African slaves (October 1747).

242 years ago Newton wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace” for his church in England (December 1772).

227 years ago Newton formally became an abolitionist to end the Atlantic slave trade (January 1788).

Friday in Charleston:

Politics aside, it was, for one moment in America, a sweet twist in our shared history. It was a work of God in overcoming multiple layers of sin. It is grace — God’s unmerited favor.