Theology & Technology

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We believe that God is sovereign over all the world and our whole life. It follows, then, that he is sovereign over technology, too. We’ve touched on this in many of our articles and blogs -- the way we can use technology for good, and for furthering God’s Kingdom.

In what other ways do we demonstrate God’s sovereignty as we use technology? I can think of examples in personal use. As parents raising children in a world full of technology used for both good and bad, we try to teach our children how to discern what is God-pleasing in the technological world just as we do in what they read, or watch or listen to elsewhere.

What about in our churches? The principle that leaps to mind is to ask: Is the technology God glorifying? Technology brings many possibilities. There are so many things you can do at your church with technology if you have the resources -- everything from the programs you use for projecting songs and announcements to the sound system, lighting, media you offer, the list goes on and on.

For some churches, a lack of resources limits what technology they can use or own. If a church has abundant resources they have more possibilities. But no matter what, it takes discernment to decide whether to use different variations of technology. Just because something is possible doesn’t necessarily make it good. As with anything else in our lives, the answer to the question “Is it God glorifying?” is not always simple, and often the answer is different for different people.

For a while it was popular in churches for singers to sing along to a recorded sound track rather than live accompaniment. I remember some heated discussions about how much some people hated that. I sympathized with that opinion because I’d seen some poor examples of it. On the other hand, I myself led a children’s program where the children sang to a taped accompaniment because we didn’t have live musicians who could play the style of music meant to be used for the musical we were performing. It’s not black and white, is it?

What are some examples where your church’s theology affects your use (or “un-use”) of technology? 

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Is there anything about today's technology that is NOT helpful .. for the church or the body of Christ or our faith formation?

I led a seminar about a decade ago for Christiann communicators, called Technology Unplugged, which allowed communication types to step back from the latest technology and to critically analyse their impact upon our lives. The Church rarely does that. In fact, the Church has historically embraced technology, though pointing out now and then that there are television programs and internet websites that are not conducive to Christian living.

I wrote a decade ago about the Virtual Church, wondering out loud if, "where two or three are gathered online", that can be called a church. Is it the 'body of Christ' when three 'minds' come together for a theological discussion in a chat room or, for that matter, in the CRC Network?

Is an email or text message a suitable substitute for a pastoral visit? I know of churches that actually consider 'an email connection' as a pastoral visit.

The Church, and more specifically the CRC, has not yet developed a theology of technology. I know of at least one church council that has developed its own set of guidelines about when emails may or may not be used when discussing church business. This came about after a lot of misinterpretation of email messages. The church is a relational body and there are times when technology is best left turned off so that individuals can meet face to face.

Conversely, solar-powered radios with prepackaged gospel messages are being dropped by the thousands into remote areas across South America and Africa ... so there are profoundly efficient ways to spread the gospel.

It is, however, high time that North America's Christian community became unplugged long enough to determine just what is helpful and what is hurtful, technologically-speaking, in order to live the Christian life.

Participant

Thanks for your comment, Keith. You make a good point that we in the church can benefit by stepping back -- "unplugging" -- and thinking about where, when and why we will or will not use technology.

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