‘Dominion’ over technology use a must, leaders say • Biblical Recorder

Whether it’s a new app sweeping the nation, a brand new iPhone upgrade, or a new way to use virtual reality, technology is advancing at lightning speed.

As the use of digital devices increases, some Southern Baptist leaders are urging Christians to examine how technology may be shaping them.

Jason ThackerDirector of Research and Chair of Research in Technology Ethics for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), told Baptist Press that he believes that technology is no longer just a tool that we use, but something that is changing how we see the world.

“Technology’s complexity, usefulness, growth and development often occur at an exponential scale,” Thacker said. “That’s the nature of technology and what we’re experiencing now will continue to increase in some sense. Technology isn’t going anywhere.

“As technology continues to advance, things will become faster, become more complex and more connected. Digital devices are not just a tool that we use, but it is a tool that radically changes us.

“It is shaping how we understand the nature of reality and truth, as well as how we relate to each other in relationships. In a way, technology is disciplining us. I think people are starting to wake up and see that something is not right about this.

In his work with the ERLC, Thacker leads a research project for the entity called the Digital Public Square. The project focuses on providing resources for Southern Baptist churches related to navigating the ever-changing technological landscape.

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Special focus is given to issues related to free speech and religious freedom.

He explained that the research is important for ministry, because technology influences every area of ​​life.

“Technology is not a separate set of issues that Christians have to address or think about. It is an element of all the other issues related to Christian life and Christian ethics,” said Thacker.

“Issues like marriage, sexuality, human dignity or justice, they are all affected by technology because we live in a digital society.”

In his book “Following Jesus in a Digital Age,” released this year, Thacker encourages Christians to use technology in a more holy way.

One of the main tips he shares is for Christians to take their time to decide how to use technology in their lives, and take steps to be a light in the digital space.

“At the heart of technology is making things faster, but what we’re seeing throughout the wisdom literature is that we’re being called to slow down,” Thacker said. “Wisdom is not gained overnight. There is no app for that. There is no on and off switch.

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“It is important for Christians to think wisely and think deeply, and this will come from slowing down and asking some of ​​the big questions like this is shaping me and how do I walk with wisdom and seek to follow Jesus better.

“Christians need to engage the culture as it is, not as we want it to be. A digital society comes with a lot of unique challenges, but also a lot of unique opportunities, and I believe that God’s calling us to step into These things and be a voice of hope, peace and of gospel transformation in our communities.

A Southern Baptist seeking to apply this kind of wisdom in his own life is Jeff MingeeRegional Strategist for the Southeast Region of the SBC of Virginia.

What began as a doctoral research paper while a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary became a self-examination of the way he was using technology in his own life.

The main principle that Mingee discovered is applying scripture to the use of technology, no matter how fast it advances.

“There is definitely a danger for Christians to adopt technological advances in a worldwide way with little or no thought of the glorious God,” Mingee said.

“We cannot predict the effect of technological advances on us – what will the formation of the iPhone influence in my life? I have no idea and no way to know this. This is a challenge with technological advances that we cannot wait Until we know the outcome whether we want to adopt it or not, we use it or not and navigate as we go.

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“The need is for Christians to apply 1 Corinthians 10:31 to our digital habits, whether we are adopting technological advances or refraining from them.”

Mingee compiled some of his thoughts and research related to technology use in a book titled “Digital Dominion: Five Questions Christians Should Ask to Take Control of Their Digital Devices.”

The book contains questions for Christians to examine the role of technology in their lives and determine whether they are controlling technology or it is controlling them.

“I have too much joy offered to me in life to waste my life staring at a rectangle that fits in my hand,” Mingee said. “There is too much joy to miss because you misused your device.

“I think our digital devices can fuel God-honoring joy in our lives, so I want to find ways to manage and use technology well.”

(Editor’s note – Timothy Cockes is a Baptist Press staff writer.)


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