Church makes technology its religion

“It’s time to build new religions around what we really believe in, technology.” So states the founder of the Hack Temple, a building that was a 104-year-old church in San Francisco.

The cathedral, built in 1912, served as a place of worship for nearly eighty years. It then became an English school for Chinese-speaking children. Last November, Pavel Cherkashin, a former Adobe and Microsoft executive, spent $7 million to buy it. He is now renovating it into an event center for technology innovators.

Hack Temple hosted its first TEDx event last month. It held a dance party earlier this month. It provides communal workspaces for meetings with mentors or small groups. The organ now displays a neon sign that reads, “hello world.”

Cherkashin is right: technology qualifies as a religion for millions of people around the world. The Oxford English Dictionary includes in its definition of “religion” these descriptions:

•    “The condition of belonging to a religious order.”
•    “A particular religious order or denomination.”
•    “People devoted to a religious life.”
•    “A system defining a code of living, esp. as a means of achieving spiritual or material improvement.”

Substitute “technological” for “religious” in these phrases and you describe many of the people you know. They belong to a “technological order,” a subset of society that focuses especially on technology and innovation. They subscribe to a “particular technological order” such as Apple or Android devices and preferred social media platforms.

They are “devoted to a technological life” so fully that it dominates their existence. For instance, today’s New York Times tells us about a video gamer whose death is being blamed on a marathon session of online streaming. The man played for twenty-two hours without a break and died later that day. Another man died after a three-day binge of online gaming.

And those devoted to the religion of technology have developed a “code of living,” beginning and ending the day with their devices. They are never without their technology.

Would not a visitor from another planet call this a religion?

The answer is not to demonize all technology. More people than ever before are hearing the gospel today, in large part because ministries such as Global Media Outreach are using tech platforms to share Christ with the world. Denison Forum obviously would not exist without the technology we use to share our resources with you.

Rather, the answer is to keep the means the means and the ends the ends. Material things are intended to serve a larger spiritual purpose. The beauty of God’s creation draws our attention to him as its Creator (Psalm 19:1). The Lord used the power of the crocodile to demonstrate his mysterious majesty in answer to Job’s accusations against his character (Job 41). In God’s plan, the temporal serves the eternal and the human glorifies the divine.

How is your enemy using technology to distract and tempt you? How is your Father using it to equip and empower you for worship and ministry? Would Jesus say he is Lord of the technology in your life today?