Even the most hardened Luddite will find himself using a satnav, mobile phone, or email on occasion. But John Fesko urges us not to reach for the latest gadget without thinking carefully about how it might shape our minds, relationships, and spiritual lives.
While acknowledging the benefits of computer technology for communication, evangelism, and friendships, he also demonstrates that every advance brings some degree of regression.
For example, the synthetic nature of online friendships make them vastly inferior to face-to-face relationships. Social media giants make profit by presenting users with a distorted view of reality built on their personal data and click history. Overuse of electronic screens has been linked repeatedly to mental and physical disorders. And millions – Christians included – have been ensnared by violent online games, videos, and pornography.
When it comes to reading, our comprehension and memory has been shown to fall drastically with an e-reader or smart phone, when compared to the printed page. And while a ‘Bible app’ is marvellously convenient, is it helpful to view God’s Word on the same device which so often distracts with alerts, adverts, and trivial entertainment? These dangers deserve serious thought.
The most interesting chapter is about an older invention – the automobile! Positively, private car ownership has brought many believers within reach of a Bible-preaching church. But has it also weakened commitment to the body of Christ, and encouraged an ecclesiastical consumerism? When church life gets difficult, the car makes it all too easy for us to move on to another congregation rather than doing what Fesko advises: ‘Stay, pray, and obey’ (p.40).
Fesko traces all of these hazards back to a hidden idolatry in the human heart, which desires to worship anything except the true God. He frequently directs believers to seek true contentment and satisfaction in Christ.
This book is not just for computer nerds. Every Christian reader will be helped to ask whether, through their use of technology, they are being conformed, or transformed (Romans 12:2).