DA Carson on technology

Posted on December 19, 2008

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I must confess that I have a somewhat silly fascination with technology.  iPhones, iPods, text messaging, Twitter, Macintosh computers…the list could go on and on.  Technology keeps me connected with ministry friends and church families in ways unimaginable even a decade ago.  But there is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to technology and social networking – the more “connected” I am to the world through technology, the less connected I become to the quiet things of the spiritual realm.

D.A. Carson, one of my theological heroes, recently wrote a short article for Themelios discussing this proclivity for believers to be “conformed to the patterns of this world” (Rom. 12:2).  Here were some of the stingers for me:

Scarcely less important than speed of access is the Internet’s sheer intoxicating addictiveness—or, more broadly, we might be better to think of the intoxicating addictiveness of the entire digital world. Many are those who are never quiet, alone, and reflective, who never read material that demands reflection and imagination. The iPods provide the music, the phones constant access to friends, phones and computers tie us to news, video, YouTube, Facebook, and on and on. This is not to demonize tools that are so very useful. Rather, it is to point out the obvious: information does not necessarily spell knowledge, and knowledge does not necessarily spell wisdom, and the incessant demand for unending sensory input from the digital world (says he, as he writes this on a computer for an electronic theological journal) does not guarantee we make good choices.

We have access to spectacularly useful information, but most of us diddle around on ephemeral blogs and listen to music as enduring as a snowball in a blast furnace. Sometimes we just become burned out by the endless waves of bad news, and decide the best course is to turn the iPod volume up a bit.

If we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, then we must be reading the Scriptures perennially, seeking to think God’s thoughts after him, focusing on the gospel of God and pondering its implications in every domain of life. We need to hear competing voices of information from the world around us, use our time in the digital world wisely, and learn to shut that world down when it becomes more important to get up in the morning and answer emails than it does to get up and read the Bible and pray.

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