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The future scares me. The future of this world, that is—particularly as I think about my children and what they will likely have to face with the onslaught of technological advancements. With significant developments in artificial intelligence, blockchain, gene editing, embedded brain-computer interfaces, neurogaming, depth-sensing imaging, the metaverse, social media algorithms, and virtual reality, the future of our brave new world is terrifying. Those who are not at least somewhat concerned about the future as it pertains to the implementation of these quickly advancing technologies have not been paying attention. Even many of the leading innovators and scientists behind these technologies are extremely concerned and have been issuing stark warnings about what is coming—whether we like it or not. Moreover, their warnings are focused not merely on one of these technologies but on how innovators are working to make all these technologies work together. Perhaps the most severe concerns have arisen in the field of artificial intelligence and its implementation into every sphere of society. In fact, it has been reported that half of artificial intelligence developers believe that there is at least a 10 percent chance that we will someday be unable to control certain artificial intelligence machines, and that day is quite possibly approaching quickly. But we do not actually know what is coming, and we do not yet know the extent to which these new technologies will be integrated into the daily routines of our lives, not to mention our children’s lives. Although Aldous Huxley and Hollywood have attempted to predict what the future will look like, and some of their predictions are eerily similar to what we are currently seeing on the horizon, the fact is that no one really knows precisely what the future holds. From the wheel to the printing press to the combustion engine to the microchip, new technologies of one sort or another have been developed throughout history, and many of them were initially rejected or received with skepticism. And as long as new technologies have been developed, people have been predicting what future technologies will look like. It is somewhat amusing to go back a hundred years and look at what some people thought the world would look like today through advances in technology. Some got it right, and others got it wrong. And while we are not all using flying cars, personal jetpacks, humanlike robots, and levitating hoverboards, all these do in fact exist and are being used by the very few who have the means to acquire them.

Although the future implementation of many of these modern technologies greatly concerns me, I am also convinced that many of these technologies are being used and will continue to be used for the benefit of humanity and for the good of future generations. Just as long as we are using the technology, and it is not using us—just as long as we can control it rather than allowing it to control us.

The Lord has commanded us to take dominion over His creation, and in part, our development of technology in keeping with the principles and ethics of God’s Word helps us fulfill our God-given task.

Technology in itself is neither good nor bad, however. Except perhaps in the case of developing artificial intelligence, technology doesn’t hurt people; people hurt people, and sometimes they use a particular technology to do so. The word technology has an interesting etymology. Technology is a Latinized form of the compound Greek word tekhnologia. The root word tekhno can be defined as an art, craft in work, or skill. Technology is thus the systematic implementation of an art, craft in work, or skill for a particular use.

The Lord has commanded us to take dominion over His creation, and in part, our development of technology in keeping with the principles and ethics of God’s Word helps us fulfill our God-given task. That is why many Christians throughout history have been engaged in assessing new technologies to take them captive for the spread of the gospel, for the discipleship of the nations, and for the kingdom and glory of God. While some Christians may make fun of new technologies, digital gadgets, and media platforms and criticize other Christians for using them, the rest of us are striving to carefully analyze new technologies and platforms to discern how we might use them for the benefit of our families, our churches, and the mission of God to the nations.

I can certainly sympathize with those who sneer at every new technology and media platform. Most of my friends consider me a little old-fashioned and sometimes a little out of touch with the most current technological craze or social media fad. What’s more, I have always sought to lead a more quiet, simple life that is unencumbered by unnecessary machines and technological gadgets. That is partly because of the influence of my father, who was born in 1924. In fact, up until his death in 1992, he regularly told me, “Son, always learn to live with a little less.” It is also due to the influence of my stepfather, who was born in 1930 and was raised on a farm in a conservative Mennonite home. His influence, as well as the influence of many of my humble and hardworking Mennonite relatives, drove me always to strive to pursue a slower-paced and more minimalistic life. From my father and my stepfather, I learned to work with my hands and what it means to work hard to maintain a relatively simple life that focuses on the essentials. One of the things that I love to do with my friends is talk about the things we learned from our fathers and grandfathers. This is the way that we all learn to follow the old paths that our forefathers walked before us, passing down the principles, values, and traditions to our children and grandchildren.

As we reflect on those values passed down to us that we are also striving to be faithful in passing down to the next generation, many of us have recognized that various tools and technologies are helpful in leading a simpler life by enabling us to save time, money, and energy so that we might better devote our time and resources elsewhere. Technologies can help us better protect, organize, and prioritize many of the particulars of our lives so that we might enjoy our lives more fully as we seek to love God, enjoy God, and glorify God forever.

That said, I am also very sympathetic to those who hate all this talk about our brave new world and all the technologies that seem to be more and more rapidly approaching. Nevertheless, I recognize that we as human beings, created in the image of God, are commanded by God to be faithful stewards of all that He has entrusted to us in this world. Contrary to what the religion of environmentalism espouses, the world was created for us, not us for the world. And just as our Lord has sovereignly ordained the ends of all things, He has also ordained the means of all His glorious ends. Therefore, we must make use of all that God has provided to us to further His mission to the ends of the earth for His glory alone.

Although the world is changing, God’s Word and God’s gospel are not. Therefore, as we navigate and discern how to use some of the technologies of this brave new world, we must never forget our calling to pray and to lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way, to mind our own affairs, to work with our hands as we have been instructed, so that we might walk properly before unbelievers (see 1 Thess. 4:11–12; 1 Tim. 2:2). As followers of Jesus Christ, we must not retreat and seek to escape from this world, as tempting as that might be at times. We must resolve to stand firm and remain steadfast in our proclamation of the gospel and the whole counsel of God as the light of the world, as a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden.

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From the November 2023 Issue
Nov 2023 Issue