People have to go to experts for stuff. NBA fans lean on Adrian Wojnarowski for trades and free-agent moves. Tony Reinke tops the shortlist for Christians asking questions about technology. In God, Technology, and the Christian Life, Reinke provides a well-researched and ruthlessly biblical theology of technology, scattered with golden nuggets of helpful applications.
Reinke holds the Gospel of Technology next to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my favorite part of the book. Here I found him most persuasive and encouraging. In a stand-off with death, only one gospel wins. “Death is not simply a “technical glitch” awaiting a “technical solution.” Death is our enemy. We don’t rationalize death; we tell death to “Go to hell!” for that is where it must go. Medical technology might numb the sting of death or postpone the inevitability of death. But Christ alone defeated death perfectly, fully and eternally (183).” Amen!
A friend and I had a conversation a few years ago about artificial intelligence. A.I. preaching better sermons than pastors and playing better music than worship leaders terrified him. On the other hand, I was so ignorant of what technology could do and would be capable of in a few years, to say anything meaningful. I imagine many people are in one or both of those camps. This book helpfully puts the pieces of technology and theology together, and it might just talk you off the ledge of a tech doomsday.
Why should we work hard to understand our technology and ask hard moral and ethical questions about our technology? The gospel of technology is the ambition of fallen humanity to create a world without God. A Babylon for our praise. “We are entering a new technological revolution that’s impossible to predict” (13). We can’t all be experts, but we don’t need to be ignorant.
Why is it necessary to understand technology in the framework of the gospel story? Because finding “your deliverance and joy in the presence of the glorious Savior, and you are in a place to set science free from the serious things of salvation and eternity so that innovation can become the spontaneous and joyous exploration of awe that it was meant to be (301).” God patterned into creation every technological discovery, and he holds the leash, limiting what we can and cannot accomplish by our technological ambitions. The gospel keeps tech in its proper place and frees us to celebrate and embrace technology. So be optimistic “in the God who governs every nut, bolt, chain, and seat belt in this wild technological carnival ride” (296).
This is not a book to read on a hammock. It’s dense and has lots of footnotes because Reinke aims to give a high-level theology of technology. If you want something to get your feet wet, pick up Reinke’s 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, where he begins with a ten-page theology of tech. If you want a longer and deeper swim, buy this book, grab a pen, and dive in.