American society has seen its fair share of techno-dystopian novels and movies in which machines get too smart and ask why they need their human overlords. Are these concepts limited to the minds of Hollywood writers and producers? Could a day rise when technology becomes the master, and mankind the servant? How should Christians relate to technology and what role should we allow technology to play in our lives?
These are questions that Tony Reinke takes on in his new book, God, Technology, and the Christian Life. Reinke is probably best known for his role as the host of the Ask Pastor John podcast and for his practical books on technology in everyday life. His new book moves into a new space, but on a familiar topic. God, Technology, and the Christian Life moves from the practical questions of how our smart phone may be shaping our thinking and social patterns to how a Christian should build a biblical theology of technology. Reinke takes the reader on a trip through 9 key texts, including David and Goliath, Jubal and Jabal, the Tower of Babel, and the great Babylon of Revelation. From these texts, Reinke traces the development and use of technology, making the case that technology is a good gift from God, and that the challenge comes in when man begins to use technology to try to replace God.
In his last chapter, Reinke includes two lists that form some of the most helpful material in the book. He gives fourteen ethical considerations in dealing with technology, and 9 divine limiters on technology. These two sections, both in chapter 5, are well thought out, helpful, and are a great reminder of the sovereignty of God over all things, even Silicon Valley.
Reinke’s work is extremely helpful in helping Christians build a theology of tech. As such, the author helps curb some of the extreme responses that might be seen to technology. On one side, believers can fall into the trap of tech pessimism, seeing every new technological development as a move away from God. Others see technology in almost salvific terms, replacing more and more of their awe for God with awe for new gadgets and processes. Neither of these approaches are helpful. Instead, technology is built into creation and into the minds of people created in the image of God. God designed technology. It is good. But then it is implemented by humans who are constantly seeking to replace God. This is the battle that we face.
There are places where Reinke’s work could have been stronger. The book is probably 10-15 pages too long, with some concepts being revisited multiple times. His use of the biblical text needs to be interacted with by the reader as well. I found myself questioning some of the hermeneutical decisions and conclusions in the book. With that being said, this book offers something to the evangelical world that as far as I can tell has been lacking. It’s a look at technology through the eyes of the text, and through the lens of the sovereignty of God. It is a helpful and beneficial contribution to the Christian literature, and will make believers do something many probably have not taken the time to do…ask the question of how the Bible actually relates to the Hulu app they just used to binge their favorite show.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.