It would seem as if another semester is underway. The thought that this is already my second semester here is a bit strange to cope with. Not in a bad way mind you just a strange one. I have so much to share and write about if only time would permit, all the successes and failures that accompany the pursuit of a deeper Christian life. Looking back to a year ago I see just how drastic the changes have been, and cannot cease to thank God for where He has brought me from. Regardless I wanted to share another paper from one of my English classes. This was my final paper for an English class last semester. This topic really pushed me as it was one that not only did I know little about it, but also had almost no interest in. It really helped me in taking something I really did not want or enjoy to do and find my own way of doing it. All in all I was happy with the results and I post it here for you to read now.
As technology has grown so has its presence within the Christian culture. In an age of overwhelming technological influence Christianity has found itself negatively impacted. There are a multitude of areas in which technology has affected Christians, one of which is the overall Christian culture. Because of the impersonal nature of technology Christianity has found itself as disconnected and divided as those who are worldly are. In the article “IPhone as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” we are given an accurate description regarding the divisiveness of technology in personal relationships. “The ubiquitous nature of information and technology has a numbing and insulating effect that creates as much distance from community and relationships as it bridges.” The cost of technologies convenience is an impersonal existence. In the Christian culture this brings a loss as we are to be a connected, unified and personal community. Secondly technology is a negative presence because of the content often accompanying it via the internet. The internet has proven to do more harm than good. The book Christians In A .com World presents a fitting account for the harms of the internet. “The internet may be a conserving activity in some ways, but it is also a real in which perversion roams free, a morality free zone in which inhibitions are short circuited, human relationships can be twisted, and lies are indistinguishable from truth.” Essentially the internet provides a place for you to be or do whatever you want with little to no physical consequence. Lastly the progress of missions has been hindered by the technological conveniences used by missionaries. Paul Borthwick in an interview said regarding technology missions, “It’s getting increasingly difficult for westerners to be emotionally present where they are serving. Rather than becoming culturally immersed they go out during the day and do ministry, but come back at night to check their Facebook pages and update their blogs. They don’t become part of the local culture because technology is keeping them connected to home.” Instead of understanding the culture the missionaries assimilate their own until completion of their work and return home choosing comfort over Christ. I believe that technology does have its drawbacks, but I do not believe that should keep us from taking advantage of technologies positive qualities. Technology has been a positive force within the Christian culture. Because of technology many ministries have been enhanced, the church as a whole provided with an abundance of universal resources, and the outreach of missions furthered. Technology has given the Christian culture another level of influence in transforming the world.
I agree that technology can be a negative force. It is becoming more and more common to hear about believers abusing technology. On top of that the numbers of crimes committed in the digital realms are as numerous as those in the physical. Whether it is pornography, identity theft, or a means for seeking an affair the negativity of technology is undeniable. Technology has given sin the ability to attack beyond not only the physical but also the mental. Because of all the negative dynamics surrounding technology you have to ask yourself is the good worth the bad? As with any neutral product I think we should use technology for its benefit regardless of those who use it for wrongdoing.
Technology having negative uses has a lot of positive ones that can help Christianity. One of the first major areas in which technology benefits Christianity is within ministry. Technology has given the Christian culture endless potential to minister to the world while functioning as a community. The technological age has provided the means for people to communicate and coordinate on multiple layers. Networking such as Facebook and mass email has provided the ability to communicate and connect in ways that in the past would have been difficult. As people we have never had more of an opportunity to be so unified as a body. I am not saying that Technology should replace physical interaction, but more that it should be complimentary to community and socialization. Ken Ham in the article Technology for Good and Evil addresses the benefits of technology in his ministry “The Lord has allowed mankind to accumulate knowledge to develop the incredible technology we see today. That technology can be used for both good and evil purposes. Whether it be television, the internet, books, radio broadcasting, etc., all can be used for either good or evil.” In the Answers in Genesis ministry Ken Ham has taken full advantage of technology to minister not only on a local level but a worldwide one as well. A great example of technology in ministry is Ken Han’s organization Answers in Genesis. Because of technology the ministry of Answers in Genesis had the ability to open a state of the art creation Museum in Kentucky. The museum is equipped with everything from animatronic dinosaurs to a full scale replica of the Garden of Eden and even a unique planetarium. The museum ministers to the world through the use of technology. Furthermore, Answers in Genesis mass produces materials for creation evangelism which impacts those within the body as well as those who are in the world. Without technology few ministries would be able to function in the effective manner that they presently do. By abandoning technology the Christian Culture would willingly miss out on the opportunity for ministry to both believers and unbelievers.
Another way in which Technology has positively impacted Christianity is by the provision of resources. Technology has given the modern Christian unbridled access to a vast array of resources. Because of these resources not only can the common believer learn about all the dynamics surrounding God’s Word but also further in their ability to know God Himself. Dr. Steven Sanchez, professor, scholar, and Bible translator says of technology:
“Technology has made it possible for more people to have access to better resource tools for lower cost than ever before. The amount of information available via technological channels is incredible. Whether its pictures of the Dead Sea Scrolls, or digital editions of the Bible and important commentaries, or satellite maps of the Middle East, all of these are available, often for free, because of the increasing power of technology.”
Technology allows us to learn about the Bible, its background, who God is, how it related in the past and how it relates today, on a scale that would have once been thought to be inconceivable. Programs such as Logos allow you to study Biblical Greek without knowing the language, online databases can provide access to every theological article imaginable, and even the books and commentaries we use for study are all a result of technology. If you still are not convinced, there is even software produced by Christian companies specifically designed to protect and monitor the content you are exposed to using the internet. If you want to chop down a mighty oak you need more than a kitchen knife to do so, and technology is the chainsaw provided to do so. In his book Technology, Spirituality and Social Trends Kerby Anderson describes technology and more specifically the internet as a tool. “The internet is one of the most exciting developments that the world has seen. Yet many Christians are both fearful and ignorant of it. We don’t have to be. Like any other technology, the internet is morally neutral. How we use it or abuse it makes it either good or evil.” Technology provides us resources that we can use for God glorifying purposes. Just as Kerby pointed out regarding the internet, the resources of can wonderfully benefit us.
Lastly, technology brought forth major progress within the Christian mission field. Before the technology of today missions were often ineffective and impractical. Barriers in travel, culture and language made mission work impossible. Technology helps both the missionary and those whom their mission is to. For example mobile computers digitally help and hold tools needed for teaching, programs such as Skype provide a means for connecting with loved ones, supporters and leadership and modern medicine enables missionaries to serve in good health on the foreign field. While missions are not easy, missionaries have been provided with the tools necessary in effectively and efficiently expanding the Gospel of Christ. Thomas Freeman, missionary and Dean of Education with New Tribes Mission, said on technology in missions:
“New Tribes Mission believes in understanding culture and language as one study. However, it is very hard to study language and culture simultaneously. Technology has allowed us to develop a system similar to Rosetta Stone. This allows us to capture and file cultural events and language snippets. As these are captured, the missionary can immerse himself in language and culture study as one.”
Because of technology people have been given the chance to genuinely understand the message of Christ and their need for Him in ways they may never have otherwise. Technology has given New Tribes Mission the chance to produce methods and tools. Tools like language programs similar to Rosetta Stone and pre-constructed curriculums for teaching help clearly communicate and impact targeted foreign people groups with solid spiritual teaching. As a result of technologically produced materials missionaries can have chronological teaching systems and translated Bibles customized to whatever culture being worked with. This establishes converts foundation of faith firmly and soundly. I am not saying that technology is to be credited for those people to come to Christ, but what I am saying is it a valuable tool in clearly and effectively communicating God’s word and breaking cultural barriers. Technology gives Christians the chance to fulfill the command of taking the Gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation.
If it was not for technology we would miss out on many of the blessings we have today. It should not matter if people use technology for evil, if God has given us knowledge and the tools for developing technology should we not use it in a manner that brings glory to Him regardless how others use it? Technology has made the church and ministry more universal than what it has ever been connecting the body in fellowship whether between believers in the United States, Africa or anywhere else in the world. Not only that, but if it were not for technology the ability for the common person to study and learn God’s Word on a deeper level through resources would be impossible. Even missions would still be spinning their tires in the mud going nowhere both figuratively and literally if not for the blessing of technology. From communicating the Gospel, to growing in faith, we have been privileged in being a generation full of information and understanding. As Christians God has provided something wonderful in technology and we just have to choose how we use it.
Anderson, J. Kerby. Technology, Spirituality, & Social Trends: Probing the Headlines That Impact Your Family. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2002. Print.
Borthwick, Paul. “Technology’s Negative Impact on Missions.” A Voice in Asia’s Highlands – Brother Eugene They Who Had No News of Him Shall See, and They Who Have Not Heard Shall Understand. Web. 07 Dec. 2011.
Cosper, Mike. “The IPhone as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – The Gospel Coalition Blog.” The Gospel Coalition. 26 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2011.
Freeman, Thomas. “Christianity and Technology.” E-mail interview. 5 Dec. 2011.
Ham, Ken. “Technology for Good and Evil – Answers in Genesis.” Answers in Genesis – Creation, Evolution, Christian Apologetics. 8 Aug. 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2011.
Sanchez, Steven. “Christianity and Technology.” E-mail interview. 7 Dec. 2011.
Veith, Gene Edward, and Christopher L. Stamper. Christians in a .com World: Getting Connected without Being Consumed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000. Print.