In my first entry, I believe that I mentioned that Christians are “defunct” when it comes to technological achievement. I cited as examples churches that don’t have their pastors’ messages available online, and have not realized that bulletins or announcements could be accomplished with text messages and email rather than waste paper.
I believe I have determined the reason why, and many Christians are not going to like it. It is because Christianity has been made to fear technology. That’s right, fear.
I am not talking about the fear that we all have when we try out new technology. You know, when you try to do something on your computer that you never done before, and afraid that you might erase everything.
I am talking about the fear that comes when a dog approaches you and then looks at you questionably. When this happens, you can run, but this might make the dog nervous and cause him to give chase. Or you can walk up to the dog with a smile and pet him. You could lose your hand in the process, but hey, you could make a friend.
Technology is like that dog, and I believe that many Christians have chosen the option of fleeing. It wasn’t something that was ever planned. It wasn’t like a Pope in the Middle Ages stood up and said: “there is this thing called technology, and it must be avoided at all costs! Let this be a standard to all generations.”
No, but somehow Christian culture has embraced a fear of technology with an odd pseudo-doctrine related to the endtimes. The illustration that you see here is from a tract written in 1988 by Jack T. Chick. Chick has been “publishing cartoon gospel tracts and equipping Christians for evangelism for over 40 years”, but what “The Beast” tract teaches is more based on supposition rather than Scripture.
Take a look at the top caption: “With the use of computers, the Beast will be able to control every person on the globe”. Did the writer of this tract not realize what a huge generalization that was? I think it was crazy to think that computers could control every person in the globe, even if the rapture took place.
The idea that a computer could subvert our freewill without some chip in our skull is pretty erroneous, true. But this tract seems to use Revelations 13:16-17 to support this. This is the one about “everyone shall receive my mark in his forehead or in his right hand. Without this mark—you will be unable to buy or sell”. Quoting this is apparently the Anti-Christ who looks a lot like a high-tech Hitler, standing on a podium with a 666 emblem and practically doing the Nazi salute.
If you are a Christian, then I’m pretty certain that you have heard this odd theory that in the last days some world leader will want to tattoo people with some sort of chip or bar code on hands or heads so that people will be catalogued like cattle. Many Christian circles have assumed that technology was going to be the means of this human database, like Big Brother fascism portrayed in the George Orwell’s dystopian 1984.
However, there is not a lot of biblical evidence to support this, because, simply put, the Bible is pretty silent in the realm of technology. So it really is not right to assume that John, writer of the book of Revelations, is looking at something he doesn’t understand and that we, as modern readers, do.
If we are going to interpret these verses as technology being the means of subjecting the human race, then I am afraid that we are too late. Like it or not, all of us have Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, not to mention usernames and passwords galore. All of this technology has been invented to give us security, individuality, and freedom, not the worldwide dictatorship that Christians seem to believe it will eventually be. This seems hard to believe that this is the mark of the beast.
But if you truly believe that there will come a day when technology will take you captive, then you might as well try and avoid it at all costs. However, this goes back to the illustration I gave early with the dog. We all know that running away from something never solves a problem permanently, but facing something also has its share of problems as well.
If we go to technology as a tool that can be used, then it will become something that can be used. However, there are limits to its usage. I’ll talk about that later, but until then, can Christians get over any residual fear that came from this weird “Number of the Beast” theory and start using technology?