It's hard to imagine that only 20 years ago nobody had heard of the Internet, and only 10 years ago Facebook and Twitter had yet to be invented. Today, there are 1.15 billion Facebook users, 400 million tweets per day, and adults spend an average of 8.5 hours per day in front of a screen. Now we're all rampant consumers—and producers—of digital media.
Christians are divided on what to make of this recent flood of digital technology. Generally speaking, evangelicals are either "determinists" or "instrumentalists" when discussing media technology. On the determinist side are intellectuals like Jacques Ellul, Neil Postman, and Marshall McLuhan who warn that technology comes with its own set of values that shape (and erode) culture almost apart from human agency. People who decry the corrupting "force" of Instagram or iTunes would also be in this camp.
On the other side are instrumentalists, who view media like Facebook or Twitter as either neutral tools or unfettered allies in the work of the gospel. They ask, like Leonard Sweet, not "Would Jesus Tweet?" but "What would Jesus Tweet?" There are certainly wise moderate voices in between these two extremes (John Dyer's fine book From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology comes to mind). But arguably most evangelicals fall into a dazed middle ground, posting status updates, "pinning" pictures, and hashtagging away with little thought for how the Christian story might inform their media usage.
But Andrew Byers, a chaplain and PhD student at the University of Durham, is trying to reorient the conversation. "If God creates and uses media," he writes, ...1