Technology and Its Impact on the Missionary

A Biblical View of Technology

A Biblical View of Technology
Using Technology in Pre-field Ministry
Using Technology to Stay Connected on the Field

Definition of Technology

The Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines "technology" as, "the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area."(1) Stated in such simple terms it is hard to believe that such a concept has been the fodder for such heated disagreement among the brethren, but the truth of the matter is that the onset of constantly advancing technologies is one of the more divisive issues facing the church today. Many Christians view the church as an agency whose primary mission is to resist change; as a result, they view technology as an enemy of the church and a tool of Satan. This type of thinking is flawed at its very core and has caused those who embrace such philosophy to greatly reduce their effectiveness for the cause of Christ. A closer look at scripture reveals that the Bible is not against technology; in fact, just the opposite is true. Man's quest to gain knowledge and to apply that knowledge in a practical way is seen in a positive light and is even commanded by God Himself. It is apparent that this was God's intention for man even from the beginning. The first recorded words of God to man are, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it"(2). The Hebrew word that is translated as "subdue" is defined as, "to subject, to subdue, to force, to keep under, to bring into bondage." (3) Therefore, the first man and woman were given the task of controlling their environment. In essence, God commanded them to develop technology.

Negative Effects of Technology on Mankind

Without doubt, what causes many Christians to "demonize" technology is the many ways in which technology can be used for evil purposes. However, one must be reminded that no matter how commonplace or advanced the technology, it is the way in which that technology is applied that makes it sinful or not. The same car that carries someone to a bar can also carry him to church, and the same internet that can deliver pornographic images can also deliver the gospel. The outcome, whether negative or positive, is determined by the application. The scriptures illustrate the negative impact of technology vividly in some of its passages.

One pitfall of man's technological advancements is the temptation to worship the results of our technology. The book of Isaiah describes the foolishness of skilled workmen crafting an idol and then falling down and worshiping the fabrication.(4) The passage goes to great lengths in illustrating that the same wood used to make the idol is at man's disposal to be used as fuel for warmth or baking of bread. It emphasizes the absurdity of worshiping something fashioned by man's hands.

Another potential negative effect of technology upon mankind is the temptation to be overtaken with pride regarding our technological achievements. This is illustrated clearly in the life of Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 4:30, the boastful king announces, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" As a result of Nebuchadnezzar's haughtiness regarding the technological advancements of his kingdom, he was stricken with such insanity that his behavior was reduced to that of brute beasts. The scripture describes his condition in this manner: "he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagle's feathers, and his nails like birds' claws."(5) This example from the word of God should provide ample warning regarding the dangers of being too impressed with human accomplishments.

In addition, there is one more Bible story which provides a powerful insight into another ungodly attitude that man may be tempted to exhibit in light of his own advances in technology. The tower of Babel provides a stark background upon which to address another of man's erroneous tendencies concerning technology. It is wrong to suppose that there is no limit to the technological advancements of man. To assume that there are no boundaries to man's technology is to take Nebuchadnezzar's attitude to the absolute extreme. Those that conspired to build the tower assumed they could elevate themselves to the highest level with no regard whatsoever for the God of the universe. They deemed themselves of supreme importance and declared, "Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."(6) Man must understand that all of his progress and advancements are carried out under the watchful eye of God. If we accomplish anything, it is because God in His grace allows us to succeed.

Positive Effects of Technology on Mankind

Aside from these negative examples of technology, there are several instances that stand out where technology has had a positive effect. As recorded in scripture, sometimes technology can actually bring glory to God. On several occasions technological projects were even ordered and outlined by God. He instructed Noah to build an ark, commanded Moses to build the tabernacle, and praised David for his desire to build the temple. All of these technological constructs brought glory to God and provided powerful illustrations as to God's master plan for the salvation of mankind.

The Bible seems to indicate that God takes pleasure in viewing the advancements of man and even finds great beauty in some of his achievements. When rebuking the king of Judah in Jeremiah 22:6, God declares that He finds the king's palace as beautiful as the fertile land of Gilead and the mountain of Lebanon. This amazing compliment is then followed by a stern warning that should Israel not heed the words of the Lord, it can all be brought to naught and turned into a desolate wasteland. Another reminder that man's progress is subject to what God will, and will not allow.

Many theologians have viewed man's development and use of technology as the natural result of mankind's being created in the image of God. It certainly seems plausible, that our desire to create mirrors our great Creator who made all that is seen and unseen. If this is true, then this is another way in which technology brings glory to God. In this sense, every advancement of man and every new technology that is discovered points back to our origins and declares to the world that there is a master technician, master designer, master creator. There is a God!

Another way in which technology exerts a positive force upon mankind is when it is utilized to accomplish those tasks which God has given man. God expects us to be a good steward of all of our resources and to do the things that He has instructed. Paul uses this type of terminology in 1 Corinthians 4:2 when he states, "Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful." There are many technologies that can lend assistance to the servant of Christ in making the most of his resources and also aid in proclaiming the gospel and fulfilling the will of God in the Christian's life. Technology can enhance or hinder our Christian walk. The difference lies in the application of that technology.

Biblical Guidelines for Using Technology

Though the word of God does not directly address many of the technologies available to us in this day and age, it certainly sets forth some principles that can be applied. There is no "thou shalt not use the internet" or "thou shalt use cell phones" found between the covers of the Bible, but there are guiding principles that can be applied to every aspect of our lives. In other words, the Golden Rule still stands whether we are face to face with someone or communicating and doing business through copper wires. The Ten Commandments are as binding to the Christian in the virtual world as they are in the real world. Some poignant questions that should be asked include:

Does it empower people or control them?

Does is meet needs or generate wants?

Does it value life or demean it?

Does it respect people's dignity as God's image bearers?

What is its potential for evil?

Does it appropriately use resources?(7)

The answer to questions like these may differ from individual to individual but there is one supreme principle that must be followed by the Christians in the course of any pursuit. It is articulated clearly and concisely in 1 Corinthian 10:31: "Whether therefore ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." "Whatsoever ye do" should be sufficient to cover the technology of the day and the many advancements of years to come. In truth, this should be the goal of every Christian: to use every tool in his arsenal to achieve this end and to bring glory to God.


(1) "Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary", 2006 Available from; Internet; accessed 5 January 2007.

(2) Genesis 1:28

(3) The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1993).

(4) Isaiah 44:9-20

(5) Daniel 4:33

(6) Genesis 11:4

(7) "Stewardship as a Christian Worldview"; Available from Internet; accessed 5 January 2007.