Where do we go next?

In light of all we've studied, what is an authentic Christian response toward technology to be? If technical innovation can produce mixed consequences for our world, is it better to withdraw from it or to embrace it? What is the most spiritual thing to do?

Withdrawal is not an option

The first thing we need to realise is that withdrawal is not an option. This is because, as we saw earlier, God has created people with an inbuilt desire and need for technological progress. It is therefore inevitable that the longer any society exists, the more technological development it will see. And the more technological progress occurs, the more that particular society will adapt itself to expect and depend upon the things it has created.

This system of innovation and dependence is not bad, but good; it conforms to how God made the world to be. To try to opt out of this social phenomenon is to work against the grain of the LORD's design. It breaks with His will for humanity to branch out, develop and fill creation with wonderful works of innovation.

Unguarded indulgence is not the remedy

In not withdrawing from technological progress, however, we must also avoid flying to another extreme: unguarded indulgence. After all, if we take the Bible's teaching on the human condition seriously, it is logical to assume that not all that goes on in the world of technology will be helpful or even safe. There will be times when man-made objects will be used in such a way as to promote moral and spiritual evil. Sometimes technical innovations will bring both opportunity for blessing and temptation to sin in their wake. So, to embrace these things without any critical evaluation will be extremely unwise.

We also need to recognise how easy it is for us to turn technology into an idol. Just as the builders of Babel trusted in their own technical skills to get them to heaven, so we can trust in man-made technology instead of the LORD. We can look to it as the answer to all our problems and needs. As Christians we must be sensitive to cultural pressures which tempt us to look to technological advances for social, emotional and spiritual salvation. There may be times when we will need to develop personal habits and disciplines that lessen the chances of technological objects dominating our lives unhelpfully.

Critical engagement is the way forward

If neither abstinence nor indulgence are right responses, what is the truly Christian approach to technology? The right response is one of critical engagement. On the one hand we need to confidently thank God for the gift of technology and to be willing to allow it to play a significant part in our lives as we serve Him. But we also need to use discernment in this process. We need to learn to sift the good from the bad; decipher the true from the false. For this to happen we need God's truth and wisdom to govern our minds. Listen to the words of the apostle Paul on this matter:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

To use the blessings of God's creation wisely we need our minds to be renewed by the truth of God. This helps us to make wise and godly choices in our behaviour. And, when it comes to the realm of technology, this enables us to be godly participators rather than mindless reactors.

So, now that we've developed a general theology of technology, we are in a much better position to explore a Christian response to the Internet. How can we engage with this technological blessing wisely? To surf or not to surf? That is not really the question we should be asking anymore. Our main concern should be to find ways in which Christians can form better, wiser and more spiritual surfing skills, whenever they go online.