Technology – by Whom and by What Standard?

Posted by Missouri Rev on Dec 20th, 2005

Greetings one and all! Like most bloggers I know, I have been so busy of late that blogging has had to be put on the backburner, so I apologize for not posting any sooner. It is my belief that at least for the next few generations the more we enter into living out biblical agrarianism the less time we will likely have to write about it. But write we must, as we can use all of the encouragement and biblical experiential light (Rom. 5:3-5) we can get in beginning the pioneering process of rebuilding our once Christian republic, a daunting task that will span many generations, if history proves to be a good measure. I say this because I believe, given the dreadful though biblically justified state of captivity the Church finds itself in today (read Neh. 9 carefully), that we all face a long road of humbling by the hand of God as He works in His people true, lasting repentance in turning from their own ways back to Him in rebuilding the foundations of Christian culture. This long, toilsome road will require extraordinary perseverance and steadfast covenantal faithfulness that will tax our souls, bodies, and relationships as never imagined, especially in this age of technological ease and comfort that, if we are willing to admit it, has significantly softened us as soldiers of Christ. More so, “American Christendom” has come to distain personal sacrifice and pain as religious foolishness and wholly unnecessary in this age of “common grace and prosperity.”

Please do not misunderstand me. As much as anyone else, I greatly appreciate the daily comforts that come from modern technology, but they are not entirely necessary or useful for the maturing of our Christian faith and the advancement of God’s Kingdom. The success of the early Christian colonies on our eastern seaboard are ample proof of this fact. In the case of our self-serving, licentious culture, much of technology has become an empowering agent for autonomy and, as such, has become an idol. All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. I believe there is ample evidence that it has also become an idol to many Christians who have put their trust in it as the primary means for their daily provision and source for generational success and continuity. Just try banning usurious economics, the most powerful form of financial technology known to fallen man, and mammon worshippers both from within and without the Church will be after you in a heartbeat, claiming that they will be doing God a service in stopping such “cultural genocide.”

I greatly appreciate Scott Terry’s recent post, Agrarians and Technology. He addresses the issue of progress and technology from a biblical agrarian viewpoint, one that needs to be carefully addressed and rightly acted upon. In my opinion, the whole issue comes down to one question. By whom and by what standard do we define progress and create and implement technology? Is it reduced to that which merely helps man? What is helping man? Is it limited to whatever he determines by and for himself? Does the pot know what’s best for itself . . . or does not the Potter know what’s best for the pot? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Since man was implicitly created to serve the Lord on the earth as His earthly steward (husbandman), all progress as it concerns man’s care and use of the earth and his relationship to his Maker and fellow beings is defined and governed by the Lord, without exception. Therefore, to step outside the boundaries of God, as clearly established in His word, in living out our lives daily and planning for the future (progress) is to declare independence from Him, which is autonomous rebellion no matter “how progressive” it appears. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. Man shall not live by progress or technology alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Technology is not some neutral thing that falls outside the jurisdiction of God’s law, thus it can never be something that automatically benefits mankind “in the name of progress.” Though technology in and of itself cannot do good or evil, since it is not a conscience soul accountable to God, it can, however, be the extending arm for good or for evil, as done by man. For example, the actual paper and chemicals that make up a photograph are not evil in and of themselves (though how they are manufactured could be in potentially destroying the biblical sustainability of the earth – another related subject). It is why they come together as a photograph that makes all of the difference. A photo of a godly wedding taken to testify of God’s greatness and blessing in putting families together is biblically lawful. A photo of a “gay wedding” taken to promote sodomy is profanity, plain and simple, as it clearly violates the restraining Laws of God as it regards the conduct and relationships of fallen man. Because of the total depravity of man and his inherent rebellion against God, everything he does is to be governed and constrained by the righteous cords and bonds of God’s Law. Though this is clearly for the good of all, a demonstration of God’s love, fallen man bristles at the notion that all he does, without exception, is subject to his Maker. What kind of God is this that would not let His human creation define for itself who they are and what is right and wrong?

Not only does God’s Law restrict what images man may make, contrary to man’s claims that he has “rights to freedom of speech,” but it also restricts how man procures and uses earth’s resources in making and implementing the technology that makes the images. Man is not a free agent to strip-mine the earth as he pleases. He is not free to strip-farm the land to get the most profits out it, only to discard it later because it is no longer farmable. Nor is he free to abuse or alter the creation, no matter how progressive it appears or what immediate benefit he claims it gives. The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Mankind is to procure and use the resources of the earth that God gives him in a biblical manner that honors the Lord and sustains the earth for future generations, and this according to God’s definition of sustainability and progress, such as we find in Psalms 37 and 103:17-19. Likewise, all technology created to achieve these purposes are governed by the same definitions and laws. History has irrefutably proven that when mankind attempts to throw off the righteous cords and bonds of God’s Law that govern this stewardship, God righteously judges them in His perfect displeasure . . . often by letting them reap over time the consequences of the evil intentions and inventions of their hearts. This also applies to technology, since it has a large impact on the sustainability of the land for future generations, though not nearly as large as man’s rebellion to God’s moral Laws, which defiles the land (Lev. 18:24-27). There is only one form of agrarianism pleasing to God and that is His form as established by His Law. All other forms of agrarianism are not pleasing, including our own usurious, corporate based industrialism, though many swear by it because of the immediate benefit it seems to produce. Those benefits are rapidly dwindling as the realities of generational covenant breaking come crashing down around our heads. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (Pro. 14:12).

The answer lies with covenantal faithfulness to the Lord, as clearly laid out in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, where God defines biblical agrarianism in terms of obedience to His Laws and the generational blessings He bestows both upon His people and the land they dwell in. Even so, there are many misconceptions by Christians about biblical agrarianism, which run to extremes at both ends. It does not mean living without technology as “backward primitives” in a regressive society that falls ever behind the progress of modern man, as some claim. Neither does it mean using each and every technology that comes along as if it were automatically the will of God. Bigger and more intelligent is not necessarily better. I’d much rather live in a world where individual men must face each other eye-to-eye and hand-to-hand in combat, as bloody and frightening as this is, then to live in the present one we have created where highly sophisticated, highly accurate, nuclear weapons can be launched by an unseen enemy thousands of miles away, which can annihilate millions in seconds with little warning. That’s not progress, that’s arrogant insanity!

Biblical agrarianism simply means stewarding God’s earth (and all of it is His) according to His (Law) Word, which is the sole, transcendent, and final standard for the whole of man for the whole of life. This applies to not only everything man does individually, but to every aspect of culture for which he is an accountable member before God, no matter what status or occupation he finds himself in.

Everyone is an agrarian because everyone lives on God’s land, breathes His air, and uses His resources to sustain their lives. This makes the stock market guru on the 101st floor of a New York skyscraper just as accountable to God as an agrarian as the Iowa farmer working his fields, for he is directly accountable to Him:

  • for how he lives – by whom and by what standard,
  • for how he procures and uses the earth’s resources – by whom and by what standard,
  • for the moral, economic, and civil structures he supports and uses, which act as an extension in obtaining the things necessary to his daily existence – by whom and by what standard,
  • for every technology created – by whom and by what standard,
  • and for the laws and mechanisms of deployment by which he plans his future – by whom and by what standard.

More so, every culture, every form of technology used to build it, and every definition of human progress that defines it exhibits an agrarian model, whether of God and by His standards or of man by his standards.

God gifts His creature man with intellectual and creative capabilities, talents, and, most importantly, a conscience governed by His law to guide his thoughts and actions in serving Him. Even in his fallen, depraved state he willfully suppresses the truth of God his Maker (Rom. 1:18-32), for which he is fully accountable, no matter how much he may claim innocence or ignorance. As God’s creature made in His image and called to govern His creation on earth, man was called to create and use technology to fulfill his call as a husbandman of the land. Technology is not, therefore, a problem, it is by whom and by what standard it is made and implemented that the problem lies. This applies to all technologies – financial, governmental, agricultural, manufacturing, etc. – literally everything that man sets his mind and hand to do in governing the earth under its King, Jesus Christ. Knowing and believing this is half the battle, because our Lord has given us His written word and His indwelling Spirit, working by way of the regeneration, to achieve His purposes on earth, which includes blessing you and your children to His praise and glory. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them. The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

10 Responses

  1. JFC Says:

    Welcome back, Tom. Lots to chew on there.

  2. Scott Holtzman Says:

    Well this is an answer to a small prayer! I was just re-reading your last post from Nov. 15th (for the 23rd time no less) after visiting over at Northern Farmer’s Blog, went to Rick Saenz blog on Plan Talk to review some of his comments on his visit with you and clicked back through..Volia! I honestly thought my eyes deceived me. Let me just say, you were missed, and yes I was prayin’ that all was well with you. Thanks for as you put it in a post, for the “letters home”. Regards.

  3. HomesteadHerbs Says:

    I’ve printed this out! I need to read it a second or third time! Like JFC said, ‘lots to chew on’!
    I love thought provoking posts!

  4. Herrick Kimball Says:

    Pastor McConnell,

    Thank you for writing this very cogent essay. You seem to have a far better grasp of Biblical Agrarianism than most anyone I know. Please continue to write here as you feel inspired to do so.

  5. Patty Says:

    Wonderful blog, and it appears you may have only a handful of members in your church but you minister to many on line with your blog. We have been homesteading for 15 years and living very simply in this complex world and each day ia a blessing. We are eating from our garden for Christmas ! Now that is indeed a good thing
    http://morningramble.blogspot.com/

  6. Walter Jeffries Says:

    Via appropriate technology… :)

    Merry Christmas!

    -Walter
    Sugar Mountain Farm
    in Vermont

  7. Missouri Rev Says:

    JFC,

    Thanks, I didn’t realize when I started blogging that it would be so difficult to stay up on. I will be working harder to post more often.

    Scott,

    Thank you for the encouraging comment. As I am sure all of us agrarian bloggers agree, a kind word of encouragement goes a long ways towards “writing home.”

    Homesteadherbs,

    I am glad to have made your blogging acquaintance and thanks for commenting. I hope my posts have been some help. Sometimes I have the tendency to put a whole lot into a little space.

    Herrick,

    Good to hear from you, May God give you grace to keep up on your excellent blog.

    Patty,

    I am also glad to have made your blogging acquaintance. Yes, our church is small, but blessed of God. May God continue to bless you in your homesteading endeavors.

    Walter,

    Merry Christmas to you.

  8. JFC Says:

    HK says: Pastor McConnell,

    Thank you for writing this very cogent essay. You seem to have a far better grasp of Biblical Agrarianism than most anyone I know. Please continue to write here as you feel inspired to do so.

    That is where this blogging community is so important, because it combines Pastor McConnell, who has studied God’s law extensively as it relates to Biblical economics (= Biblical agrarianism), together with Northern Farmer, who deals with the end of the business where these teachings flow out the fingertips in real life. And in the middle are a host of other folks who may not be full-time agrarian families, but are certainly real agrarian families.

    We need the foundational teaching from God’s law which tells us what we must, and must not do, and we need the expertise of the farmers who have learned from working God’s world how to best accomplish those things that we are to do.

    Thank God for providing all we need for life and godliness, through his power.

  9. Walter Jeffries Says:

    There is a nasty bit of technology barrelling down the tracks at us called the National Animal Identification System. If you don’t know about please learn about it and how it is going to hurt small farmers and homesteaders. I just wrote a summary of it on my blog along with various contact links to help fight it. See: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/oklahomans_against_NAIS/

  10. Walter Jeffries Says:

    Oops I pasted the URL wrong. That should have been:
    http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2006/01/mystery-photo-20060109.html
    Sorry about that!
    -Walter

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