As a former communications major at a Christian university, I've read a number of books addressing the intersection of technology and Christianity. These "theology of technology" books have almost always proven to be heavier on the technology side than the theology side. The authors, likewise, have more often proven to be students of Marshall McLuhan (a major figure in media theory) than students of the Word.
But that all changed as I read this latest book by John Dyer (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary). From the Garden to the City has a biblical balance and insight to it that has been missing in all my previous reads. Dyer shows an uncanny ability to skillfully and faithfully weave the two seeming unrelated topics of faith and technology into quite an engaging book.
The very structure of the book follows the Christian metanarrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Dyer argues that (1) our ability to make technology is a reflection of our Creator, (2) every technology has the potential to be used for sin and rebellion, (3) technology can also be used for redemptive purposes, and (4) God's plan is the restoration of all things, including some of the things we make. Here's a thread of insights I felt made a significant connection:
Dyer does a masterful job of helping the Christian reflect on the nature of technology. If I have one critique, it is that there was not equal emphasis on how the Christian should respond to technology. Or put another way, at the cross-section of theology and technology Dyer gives us plenty of implications but not enough applications. (Perhaps a second book is in order?)
Adam and Eve's very first act after sinning simultaneously reflected their programming as God's image-bearers, and their newfound sinfulness...
The clothing was their way of transforming their circumstances such that they would no longer rely on God for anything...
Technology can at the same time be both a reflection of the image of God and a subtle rebellion against him and his authority...
...technology is also one of the chief means by which humans attempt to create a world without God. As our technology grows more and more powerful, the illusion of control becomes increasingly convincing. (Chapter 5, "Rebellion")
Living in the middle of a technological explosion (comparing the last 150 years with the span of human history), we should be all the more diligent in examining and "seeing through" the technology we use. Dyer warns, "When technology has distracted us to the point that we no longer examine it, it gains the greatest opportunity to enslave us."
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Recommended for: Communicators, techies, multimedia ministry personnel
This book was a free review copy provided by Kregel Publications.