“Imagine using your teeth to mow the lawn when scissors or a lawn mower are readily available.” This analogy, once shared with Ligonier’s management team by Dr. R.C. Sproul, simply illustrates the role of tools and technology in accomplishing tasks more efficiently and effectively. Since its inception in 1971, Ligonier has grown in its reach alongside the expanding technological landscape, leveraging advancements to disseminate biblical and theological discipleship resources to a greater audience. The jump from reel-to-reel and cassettes to contemporary digital platforms, fueled by the internet, echoes how Martin Luther’s teachings spread swiftly throughout Europe during the Protestant Reformation—thanks to the advent of the printing press and Gutenberg’s innovative use of movable type.
When rightly deployed, technology is a force multiplier. A Christian ministry such as Ligonier can accomplish more with less, helping us realize our vision of Reformed theology flourishing among growing, healthy Christians and churches worldwide. This vision extends beyond our current reach, even considering the remarkable growth we have witnessed in the past few years. The reason is straightforward: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). With eight billion souls on this planet, the Lord Jesus Christ has given His people a Great Commission extending to every nation, tribe, and tongue. Dr. Sproul knew that if we are first prioritizing faithfulness to the gospel and supporting the healthy growth of local churches, Christian ministries such as Ligonier need to think about how to be more efficient and effective. Given that the Lord expects His people to be fruitful, shrewd use of technological tools becomes a legitimate means of fulfilling the discipleship imperative of the Great Commission.
In the last 250 years or so, we’ve witnessed technology eliminate or simplify numerous labor-intensive tasks, resulting in unprecedented productivity leaps. From communication and manufacturing to agriculture and medicine, technological advancements, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke observed, have accelerated to the point where commonplace technologies would seem like “magic” to someone from the Middle Ages. It can be disorienting, can’t it?
Every week, a new headline seems to cross our screens, breathlessly proclaiming the advent of some new technological marvel that will either revolutionize society or spell its doom. Exhausting hyperbole aside, there are undeniable moments of innovation and insight. Yet the day-to-day reality is usually much more mundane, and it is usually over years that we clearly see the cumulative effects of scientific inquiry and iteration.
For example, Nicolaus Copernicus’ shocking sixteenth-century astronomical theory took almost two hundred years to become accepted fact. Even Martin Luther and John Calvin were skeptical in their day. As Dr. Keith Mathison notes in his helpful treatise A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture, the heliocentric view of the solar system was established only after additional contributions by Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton. A biblical worldview understands that God reveals Himself through Scripture and nature. A disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is uniquely suited for growing in his understanding of nature because believers understand that God is a God of order, He created all things, and therefore nature is intelligible, functioning according to universal, invariant laws that are observable. In fact, Kepler said that we pursue science to “think God’s thoughts after Him.”