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Theology of Technology By Robert Thomas
“Is there a theology of washing the cat?” I was in a seminary class titled “Introduction to Christ and Culture” when my professor posed this question. We had been reading through Richard Niebuhr’s “Christ and Culture.” My professor was building an argument for Niebuhr’s view called “Christ the Redeemer of Culture,” espousing that part of Christ’s mission was to redeem all of culture and all of the world. Further, my professor was teaching that Christians are also called to this task of culture redeeming. In asking the question, he was attempting to emphasize that Christ’s work on the cross should influence every part of our lives, and even shape our culture. Our simple task is to reform our lives and the culture to reflect His Truth. While the question initially flew over my head, its ultimate answer would change my life. I learned to think theologically about every part of life, and doing that has altered the way I think about almost everything.
I don’t believe in secular. In my work, I have the great honor of sitting down with leaders of Churches and Christian Higher Education institutions and asking them how their theology drives their practice. Often, I find that this has not been thought about before in their organization. The work I do is simply considered a part of normal business, almost a necessary evil. It’s a “secular matter” that should only be dealt with by engaging our business wisdom and not our theological convictions.
One problem: There is no secular.
God reigns over all parts of the world. If Niebuhr is correct and Christ is truly the redeemer of culture, then we should be seeking ways to infiltrate Christ’s thinking into everything we do. I’m sure all the cats of the world would appreciate a little more theological thinking when it comes time for a bath. I don’t hold a Ph.D. in theology. I’m just an account executive for a technology company, but shouldn’t we let our theological frameworks drive even the way we make decisions regarding technology in our organizations?
My favorite YouTube Channel is published by a Christian who happens to be a rocket scientist. Smarter Everyday has over 3.5 million subscribers. Destin Sandlin works to lead his subscribers on a journey to look at the world around them and make discoveries about the way it works. In a TED Talk, he gave this encouragement: “In a world of talkers, be a thinker and a doer.”
I’m presenting a similar, but slightly nuanced challenge today. Destin has traveled the world to meet scientists, been invited to give a TED Talk, and even interviewed the President. All this happened because he simply looks at the world differently and invites others to do the same. I believe we are called to do a similar thing when we are making decisions that guide our Churches and organizations.
In our beloved Christian circles we see two frequent trends: imbibing and abstaining. Niebuhr called these “Christ against Culture” and “Christ of Culture.” Some folks think that technology is intrinsically bad and should be avoided as much as possible. “A church should never have Wi-Fi because students might find an opportunity to pursue pornography on the internet,” they might say. Others think that we should have it be a part of every aspect of our lives and worship. “Let’s get our church members to tweet everything they do at church, even accountability time, so that we can be a part of the global scene.” These examples are intended to be hyperbole, but they illustrate the ways we think. Perhaps we should think differently? What if we evaluated how this tool that’s available to us can be an agent of influence in our world? What if we let a well thought out theology of technology drive our practice? I will stop short of proposing any final answers on how I think this should look, because each organization might find that they need to answer these questions differently depending on their context.
Of course these questions apply to more than just technology. Technology is an easy reference because it’s my business, but it should apply to architecture, landscaping, cleaning, and even driving. In fact, let’s just say it applies to all things. Let your theology drive your practice. In a world of imbibers and abstainers, be an evaluator.
If your beliefs don’t drive your actions, your actions have already determined your beliefs. One of my favorite professors had a saying that was famous all over our campus: “stated belief + actual practice = actual belief.” It stings every time I think or hear that saying, because I realize there are places in my life where my practice doesn’t well reflect my stated beliefs very well. Part of the sanctifying work Christ is doing in me is to reform my practice to reflect His Truth. Churches and organizations do this too. Jumping to the wrong practice for the wrong reasons leads to bad practices. Just like in our personal lives, going back to fix the problems caused by poor practice can be painful.
If you have read this far, then first I’d like to say thanks. But you may be wondering why some account executive is writing about this. The reason is my team and I are on a mission to help Churches and Organizations as they work through these issues. The owners of my company and I have a big heart for Churches and Christian Organizations. We want to do our small part to help further the mission of Christ. I am honored to head up this effort. If there is anything we can do to help we will. Sometimes we simply provide advice and thought processes for questions you might have. Sometimes we formally help develop strategies and designs for the technology development of your work. As a business, we install and maintain technology solutions. We often install these solutions for churches at a low cost so that they can divert more funds towards making disciples across the street and across the world. I hope this last paragraph doesn’t seem like my sales pitch. If you need help and we can help, then great! However, I’ve completed my mission if you look at the world differently now that you’ve read these thoughts. If I had to choose between making clients or evaluators, I would take evaluators every time.
Robert Thomas graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and serves his church as a “Lifechange” teacher. Robert works with Trident Technology Solutions as an Account Executive. He loves his wife Sarah Beth, the community of believers, the outdoors, and is an avid hunter and backpacker. To contact Robert email him at Rthomas@tridentts.com.
Free Bookmark and Mergers
Matt Rogers' new book Mergers is available now. Please contact Matt if you would like to purchase a $2 copy.
You can also read a blog by Matt Rogers recently featured on GCD here.
We are planning to highlight a church within the Pillar Network on our blog every Friday. We ask that you please present the prayer requests to your church body each week. We believe that praying specifically for each of our churches is a tangible expression of our love and care for one another and one of the most meaningful ways we can partner together. Be sure to check
each week to read our "Church Highlight" posts.
We are excited about our First Annual Pillar Network Women's Retreat in Charleston, SC May 13-15!
to register. We are looking forward to having Tara Dew speak on "Pursuing Peace: Christ's Ambassadors in a Fallen World" from
2 Corinthians 5:17-6:10.
Our prayer is that this retreat would be a refreshing and edifying time for pastors wives and female staff members in the Pillar Network. Spaces are limited so be sure to reserve your spot today. The women's retreat is $185/person and that includes housing, 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner. There are scholarships available if needed.
3/2/16- West Coaching Session at 10am EST
3/2/16- Midwest Coaching Session at 2pm EST
3/9/16- NC/VA Coaching Session at 9am-1pm EST at Pillar Network office (1780 Heritage Center Drive Suite 101 Wake Forest, NC 27587)
3/9/16- North East Coaching Session at 9am EST
3/9/16- GA & SC Coaching Session at 10am-3pm EST at Spill the Beans (531 S Main St. Greenville, SC 29601)
4/6/16- National Coaching Session at 11am-12pm EST
4/22/16- "Everlasting Wealth" at 11am-1pm EST at North Ridge Country Club
See all of our events here.
Don't Miss What's on Our Blog this Month:
2/1- Women's Retreat Details 2/3- What is Biblical Counseling and Why is it Vital for the Church? 2/5- Church Highlight: 4D Church 2/8- Recommended Reading: Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor 2/10- 3 Ways to Establish a Culture of Counseling in Your Church 2/12- Church Highlight: Cross Fellowship2/15- The Destructive Road to Discontentment 2/17- They Know Thy Voice2/19- Church Highlight: Crosspoint Church 2/22- 7 Ways Pastors Can Fight Against Insecurity 2/24- Empowering Care 2/29- 4 Essentials in Biblical Counseling