A theology of technology?
    April 25 2016 by Robert Thomas, Guest Column

    “Is there a theology of washing the cat?”
     
    I was in a seminary class when a professor posed this question. We had been reading through Richard Niebuhr’s popular book, Christ and Culture. My professor was building an argument for the view that Christ’s mission was to redeem, not just individual souls, but all of culture.
     
    He said all Christians are called to this same task of culture redeeming. The odd question about cats was meant to emphasize that Christ’s work on the cross should influence every part of our lives. While the question initially flew over my head, the answer changed my life.
     
    In my line of work, I have the honor of consulting with church leaders and those who oversee Christian educational institutions about how theology drives their practice when it comes to technology. Often, I discover they’ve not considered it.
     
    The work I do, in their eyes, is a mundane aspect of business administration, almost a necessary evil. It’s a “secular” matter that only requires business wisdom, not theological convictions.
     
    One problem: There is no aspect of life to which God’s wisdom doesn’t apply.
     
    God reigns over all parts of the world. If Christ is truly the redeemer of culture, then we should be seeking ways to infiltrate Christian thinking into everything we do. Shouldn’t we let our theology drive even the way we make decisions regarding technology in our organizations?
     
    In our beloved Christian circles we see two frequent trends: imbibing and abstaining. Some people think technology is intrinsically bad and should be avoided as much as possible.
     
    “A church should never have wireless internet because students might find an opportunity to pursue pornography,” they might say.
     
    Others believe it should 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,” some may say.
     
    These examples are exaggerated, but they illustrate how 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 thoughtful theology of technology drive our practice?
     
    I will stop short of proposing any final answers, because each organization might find they need to solutions that depend on their context. Each organization is different.
     
    Of course these considerations apply to more than technology as well: What about 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.
     
    I work with a school who provides a good example of letting theology drive practice. They have determined theologically that music contributes greatly to the soul’s capacity to worship. This theological emphasis leads them to train students to be great musicians and leaders of church music ministries. For these reasons they are choosing to spend more money than some would say is “necessary” to provide equipment that will help their students develop their talents. The desired result is that students will learn to practice excellence in music and lead their churches to do the same. The organization’s theology of music is helping them make the decision to spend the extra money needed that aids the fulfillment of the mission.  Theology drives practice.
     
    If your beliefs don’t drive your actions, your actions have already determined your beliefs. One of my favorite seminary professors had a well-known saying: “stated belief + actual practice = actual belief.”
     
    It stings every time I hear that statement, because I realize there are places in my life where my practice doesn’t reflect my stated beliefs. Yet, the sanctifying work of Christ is always reforming my practice to reflect His Truth. Churches and organizations need this sanctifying work too.
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – 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.)

    4/25/2016 10:22:11 AM by Robert Thomas, Guest Column | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Christian living, technology, theology




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