Tony Reinke, author of 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (see my review) and Competing Spectacles (read my five takeaways), just released his newest book God, Technology, and the Christian Life—his biblical theology of technology. I really enjoy reading Reinke on technology and had been eager to get my hands on this book since I first heard about it a couple of years ago.
Reinke almost called this book A Christian Optimist’s Guide to Modern Technology. “Tech is not all roses, but it’s not all bad Apples either,” Reinke writes. “This book is my case for a more positive view of human innovation and innovators.”
The structure of the book answers six key questions about technology:
1) What is Technology?
2) What is God’s Relationship to Technology?
3) Where Do Our Technologies Come From?
4) What Can Technology Never Accomplish?
5) When Do Our Technologies End?
6) How Should We Use Technology Today?
He answers each question focusing on nine key sections of Scripture (Genesis 4:1–26; 6:11–22; 11:1–9; 1 Samuel 17:1–58; Job 28:1–28; Psalm 20:1–9; Isaiah 28:23–29; 54:16–17; and Revelation 18:1–24) and by profiling nine influential voices on the topic of technology throughout (John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, Jacques Ellul, Wendell Berry, Kevin Kelly, Elon Musk, and Yuval Noah Harari).
If I had to summarize the book’s message in a sentence, it would be that God is sovereign over technology. (I know, a big shocker for a guy who works for John Piper’s ministry!) Everything related to the invention, innovation, and use of technology is under God’s control. And that’s good news for an age when many of our greatest technologies also cause many of our greatest problems.
“No maverick machine, bot, or genetic edit can thwart the governance of God. He can allow them to run amuck and do real damage, but he can stop them too. God has set limits. He can, and does, and will continue to intrude upon our tech aspirations at his own will. What countless catastrophes has he stopped already?”
If you stop and think about how much technology governs our lives, it might scare you. Then you factor in what is coming down the pike in terms of technology: transhumanism, the colonization of Mars, sex robots, even better artificial intelligence, and high-tech government surveillance… you might just buy a cabin off-the-grid somewhere and call it a life. But we don’t need to fear. And God’s sovereignty is also a reason to be optimistic: good will come from technology as He has ordained since the very beginning of time.
God, Technology, and the Christian Life is a book for tech early-adapters, luddites, and everyone in between. Reinke’s research is thorough, knowledge of theology illuminating, outlook on tech realistic, and tone both comforting and worshipful. This book gave me hope, both in the wonderful promise of technology to do good for humanity (and even push back the curse at times!) and in the One sovereign over every element of technology and its use.
Because technology is such a huge part of our everyday lives, we would all benefit from Reinke’s biblical theology of technology. We need to see technology and its role as God does instead of living naively by technology’s dictates. Reinke is a faithful teacher who will help you do just that.
I’ll let Reinke have the last word in this brief review:
“The ultimate point of technology (in any age) is to point us back to the glory and the generosity and the majesty and self-sufficiency of the Creator himself. And the ultimate goal of technology is to usher us deeper into the creative genius of God, to direct our hearts to God, to adore him and to thank him for our daily bread. God’s glory is the end of creation and the aim of all our innovations. He is worthy of our lives, worthy of our best inventions, worthy of all praise.”
You may enjoy this podcast interview with Tony Reinke on the book: