16 Jan Lemmings
We are so pleased to offer a new book by J.V. Fesko next month. The Christian and Technology will stand as an indispensable resource for believers attempting to reconcile the benefits of digital technology with its potential temptations to sin and distraction. In today’s post, Mr. Fesko gives us a peek into the inspiration for the book. Enjoy!
I can remember sitting at the airport gate awaiting the call to board my flight. As I sat and awaited the gate agent’s announcement, I was engrossed in my book. With highlighter and pencil in hand, I was busily reading, marking, and pondering the book’s arguments and contents and interestedly exploring the footnotes at the bottom of the page. As I came up for a breath of fresh air and to stretch my hunched neck, I looked around the terminal and saw people walking by. It struck me, however, that most of the people were holding smartphones. Some were multitasking—they were walking and scrolling through texts, tweets, and internet content. Some were talking on their phones while others were listening to music through headphones. As I scanned the airport gate, I noticed how many people were using smartphones and tablets. The people using devices vastly outnumbered those who were sitting idly or reading hard-copy books. My mind was drawn to several different ideas. I thought about lemmings plunging off a cliff—each individual creature following others off the edge regardless of the danger. Another thought came to mind—a passage of Scripture: “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” (Rom. 12:2). In that moment I vividly saw how influential screens were and wondered how much they shape our lives. This event was one of several key moments that motivated me to find some answers to this question.
Over the years I had read numerous books on culture and technology and wanted to record my thoughts. I had the opportunity to codify my reflections when I was asked to deliver a series of chapel addresses to seminary students. I used this occasion to write the chapters of my book, The Christian and Technology. In my book, I offer some pastoral and devotional reflections to observe both the positives and negatives of technology. Technology, whether it’s smartphones, tablets, computers, the internet, and the like are not inherently evil. Like any tool, technology can be used well and to great benefit or to ill effect. A hammer is a great tool for driving nails, but it makes for a terrible instrument for driving screws. Drive a screw with a hammer and you’ll ruin whatever you’re trying to fix or build. The same goes for technology. All of the people using technology in the airport that day weren’t necessarily engaged in sinful practices. But the prevalence of screens did make me ask the question, “How am I using the technology in my life?” And, “How should Christians approach the use of technology?” “What are the benefits, drawbacks, and in what ways might technology adversely affect the Christian life and the church?”
At the end of the day one of the most important factors to the proper use of technology, or any temporal blessing in our lives for that matter (food, clothing, jobs, house, etc.) is ensuring that we seek contentment in Christ. If we have contentment in Christ, then chances are we will not turn the temporal things in our lives into idols. When we sense our desire to displace Christ from the chief place in our heart, by God’s grace we will naturally alter our conduct to flee from sin and idolatry.
In short, don’t be a lemming. When you see the crowd going one way, stop, ask yourself why, and determine whether the world is conforming you to its patterns or whether the word of God is transforming your life to reflect more of the image of Christ.
J. V. Fesko is Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, Mississippi), and is author of The Christian and Technology and The Fruit of the Spirit Is . . .