Technology and the Christian Ministry

Technology and the Christian Ministry

The world is moving towards a point where technology becomes a necessity for everybody. This means that technology becomes an application of practical science. However, according to research, the adoption and use of technology are consumer-oriented, and group regulations may not apply to the people. In the last decade, the infiltration of technology in different industries has witnessed an increasing trend to the extent that all the industries have made it an obligation for technology use and application. The collaborative practices that technology manifest is a benefit in every domain of life including workplace, homes, and schools and even in the churches(Ellul, Chastenet & Mendès, 2005. The use of technology among Christians has been a topic of concern from many people with some Christian ministries advocating for technology while others claim that technology negatively infuses the practices of the members and thus opposes it publicly. This paper is a theoretical research in the relationship between technology and Christian ministry. The paper will focus on technology from the perspective of theology and its teaching while also comparing the perspective with the contemporary living.

Theology as a word is derived from two Greek words, theos which means God and logos which means word. Therefore the literal meaning of theology is ‘words about God’.  Theology has been defined as a science that seeks to understand God and religion(Ellul, Chastenet & Mendès, 2005. According to the theological literature, theology seeks to give a deeper insight into the presence, nature and character attributes of God. In addition, theology helps people to understand better the laws and government of God, the beliefs related to God and what people ought to practice about Godliness. Theology of technology, on the other hand, means the connection that technology has with the understanding of God and his commandments. As a discipline, the theology of technology seeks to understand if the technology is inherently good, evil or neutral. In addition to this, the discipline attempts to guide the Christian tech developers on the morals of technology and help them understand the connection between their work and the effect that this work has on the Christian community.

According to Shane Hipps (2005), all forms of technology and media have a profound impact on the people, their faith, and culture. This impact is regardless of the content that the media or the technology presents to the people (Hipps, 2005). This perspective has been based on the realization that although people use different forms of the media and technology on a day to day basis, not many of them can list the benefits and liabilities of technology in their lives. Most people recognize technology as mere conduits or channels of communication rather than concepts with the power to shape behaviors and conduct of people. This is what the author describes as seeing but not perceiving an attitude of the people including the Christians(Hipps, 2005). As observed, technology helps people to adapt to the changing world and Christians cannot be left behind while the rest of the world moves towards easier and more dependable communication systems. However, the Christians must not only see but also perceive the potential benefits and dangers of technology to their faith and behaviors.

Hipps also identifies that every medium that technology presents to the community is an extension of the humanity(Hipps, 2005). Being conceived by the human mind and for the purpose of making the life better and easier, technology is an extension of the innate virtue of humanity to help make life better. Some researchers have also indicated that the development of technology is an advancement of the procreation role of human beings to make life better (Ellul, Chastenet & Mendès, 2005). It is, therefore, necessary for humanity including the Christians to seek to understand the need for technology in their lives and the benefits of technology to their lives and faith.

According to Albert Borgmann, despite the benefits that technology has had in enhancing the ability of people to live unencumbered lives in the modern society, there are instances when the lives of human beings are worsened by the same technology (Borgmann, 2003). Humanity is forced, with the adoption of technology not to live to the benefits that technology offers. Technology has provided humanity with loopholes to disenchantment, isolationism, and superficiality. The implication of this is that human beings, with technology, becomes even more individualized as opposed to communal, more isolated as opposed to connected and more superficial as opposed to interactive. Borgmann uses analogies and examples to support the claim that although technology has superficially enhanced people’s lives, the majority have misplaced the ultimate value that technology can provide including awakening the capacity to hear the word of God(Borgmann, 2003). The text, therefore, support the description that technology as an extension of humanity has helped make life easier.

However, Borgmann suggests that Christians in their various ministries must be keen not to be overcome by the superficial benefits if technology(Borgmann, 2003). Consequently, he calls them to realize the value of life and their faith as taught in theology and to understand that this value should not be lost with the adoption of technology. According to the text, Christians ought to adopt a responsible living in which realities of life are well examined and events fully articulated into their relevant structures for understanding and making of rational decisions. It is also necessary, according to Borgmann for Christians to understand that not everything that the rest of the world, even in technology, advocates for enhances their value in life. Close examination of issues and ideologies must, therefore, be performed for rational decisions to be made(Borgmann, 1984). The culture and circumstances that surround technology are passive and pervasive. However, Christians can take advantage of the benefits that technology provides without negatively affecting their faith and its teachings.

In his book, From the Garden to the City, John Dyer explores the issue of technology and its application in the today’s life including Christianity(Dyer, 2011). Using quotes from the Bible that depicts the benefit of communication and one-on-one interaction between people to convey messages, Dyer describes the world that is experiencing two different stories of technology. In one of the stories, human beings are developing and using technology to shape the world they would like to live in. In this story, the development of technology as an extension of humanity is echoed, though not directly. Human beings and the developers of technology seek to improve their lives and enhance better communication and interaction in what ideally seems legitimate and Godly. When people and ministers evangelize through the media like televisions, the internet and mobile phones, the communication targets and objectives are met rather easily and cheaply. However, Dyer provides another story of how technology has reiterated its use to shape people lives(Dyer, 2011). Rather than people using technology to shape the world, the technology has taken their roles and is now shaping their lives. This is what some ministers describe as having an asset, which assists you to perform your duties, which the enemy takes over and uses to destroy you instead(Dyer, 2011). Quite often, people are quick to look at the first story and consider how technology would assist them to achieve more without the consideration that the same technology could be the cause of their ultimate downfall. People often become pragmatists and adopt new forms of life and media without the slightest thought as to whether the new form is the solution to their communication problem or even if there was an existing problem in the first place. On the other hand, others focus more on the second story of technology negatively shaping human life and shun away any new technology without pausing to consider if it offers better avenues for improving their lives and their ministries (Dyer, 2011). These two perspectives are dangerous in that one make a Christian a prisoner of the world and hence unable to evangelize and conquer the world while the other distances the Christians from the world which they are supposed to interact with and change.

The human beings are created to be creative. The ability, therefore, to make something new is what it means to be created in God’s image. Technology is a creation of human beings with the motive to enhance life. It is therefore inherently neither evil nor good but neutral. Different forms of technology have been used in Christianity to manifest God’s work and transform the world. Ranging from the communication media and the supportive technologies, the success of Christian ministry is dependent on technology. In addition, Christians must be in touch with the world if their effect and impact in the world are to be felt. However, technology has also been used by the enemy to cause rebellion and downfall of many Christians. Given the sinful nature of human beings, technology has increased the susceptibility of Christians to sins and perversion. This then takes Christianity back to the two stories of technology. It is how people use technology that determines the impact it has on them. It requires therefore that Christians understand that technology should be used to change the world and not be allowed to change them. Technology is a tool, and the important consideration is how the users use the tool. A tool makes work easier but can hurt the user or even destroy the workspace when wrongly used.

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