Wired Faith: The Friday Five with John Dyer

The twentieth century brought the developed world incredible access to the healthiest, most productive, and carefree lifestyle possible. Machines do almost all of our physical labor, and we have access to the fresh, exotic, and tasty foods any time we want. 

Yet the result of the abundance of food has been that Americans are growing increasingly obese. The problem is that we have trouble distinguishing between easy-to-consume food and the food that truly nourishes. 

A parallel trend appears to be happening with information. We now have access to the greatest sermons, research, and Biblical tools humans have ever created, and yet we spend most of our time updating Facebook and watching funny cats on YouTube. In other words, we have trouble distinguishing between easy-to-consume information and the information that truly nourishes.

This has been a pattern for humanity. Abundance often leads not to more abundance, but to decay. So there is no silver bullet, no install-this-software-and-not-that-one-and-you'll-be-okay solution. Instead, we have to do the hard work of cultivating technological discernment. Part of developing that discernment is understanding how technology is employed both in society at large and at the individual level.

What is one piece of advice you would give to bloggers, Christian leaders, and anyone else seriously engaging the digital world? 

It's extremely challenging to affirm the God-given goodness of technology while also helping people see its downsides.

Thankfully, I think there's a nice example in the Scriptures of how to do this. 2 John 12 says, "Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete."

In this passage, John carefully distinguishes between the communication technology of his day ("pen and ink") and being face-to-face, which he calls "complete." He seems to recognize the value of writing while also acknowledging that it doesn't offer the completeness that embodied life alone can offer.

Recognizing a downside or incompleteness to the technology available to him didn't stop John from using it; rather, it ensured that he always used technology in service of, and as supplemental to, embodied life, not as a replacement for it.

So I would ask all of us in the digital age: Do we agree with John?

4/28/2011 4:00:00 AM
  • Evangelical
  • The Friday Five
  • Technology
  • Christianity
  • Evangelicalism
  • Daniel Darling
    About Daniel Darling
    Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and the author of Crash Course and iFaith. His columns appear at Crosswalk.com. Follow him through Facebook, Twitter, or his personal website.