Blogger Tim Challies understands both technology's potential and its potential seduction. He uses emerging tools to keep his 15,000 visitors updated daily at Challies.com. His new book, The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion (Zondervan), considers our reliance on technology and how it impacts our faith. Matthew Lee Anderson spoke with Challies about how Christians might think theologically about technology.
You write that we are "molded and formed into the image of what shapes us." What risks do technologies like Facebook and YouTube pose to the Christian life?
When technologies give us an ability, they also give us a desire. Before Twitter or Facebook, none of us cared about moment-by-moment updates from friends. But with the new tools, we've grown to desire—and sometimes even demand—that sort of information. YouTube heightens and preys upon our desire to see and be seen. It makes us exhibitionists, telling us that any part of the human experience can be someone's entertainment.
You point out that the "new Calvinists" gained influence by adopting technology. How do you see those tools shaping the movement?
You can't really understand new Calvinism apart from the Internet. It allowed us to hear from these people in an unprecedented way.
We seem to have short attention spans, and much of what we're learning and hearing comes through social media. Far more people are getting John Piper in 140-character chunks than are listening to his 45-minute sermons, which means we're not learning in more holistic ways.
Is a specifically Reformed understanding of technology possible?
If it is, I don't know that I want to major in it. But certainly, I am Reformed in my understanding of God's sovereignty over all ...