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Apple vs. the FBI: it’s complicated

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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In this April 30, 2015, file photo, Apple CEO Tim Cook responds to a question during a news conference at IBM Watson headquarters, in New York. Apple has confirmed that it’s expecting an uncharacteristic decline in sales in the spring of 2016, amid signs of global economic weakness and overall slowing demand for new smartphones. So anticipation is building around Apple’s next iPhones, as investors and tech enthusiasts speculate over what might get the iconic Silicon Valley company back on the path to growth. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File),

The FBI wants Apple to create software that would enable authorities to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple has refused. When I saw this news story, I wondered why the company wouldn’t want to help.

However, the more I read, the more complex the debate became.

According to Apple’s engineers, the software it would develop for this purpose would threaten the security of all iPhones and could be used on any number of devices. However, according to prosecutors, the new software would affect only the terrorist’s phone.

According to legal scholars, if the FBI can compel Apple to do this, perhaps it could force Facebook or other tech companies to do the same. However, according to terrorism authorities, unbreakable technology could enable terrorists to escalate attacks against us.

Here’s my point: To learn the truth about an issue, consult people who understand the issue.

This principle is especially important for those of us who seek to represent God to our culture. In Luke 3 we read that “the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (vs. 2–3). John received the word of God before he tried to preach the word of God.

Similarly, Jesus “went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Then “the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose'” (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42–43). He listened to God before he spoke the word of God.

Our culture has no shortage of people claiming to speak for God. What we need are more people who speak from him. When last did you make time to listen for your Father’s voice? He’ll speak to you through his word, his world, and your worship. But you must be willing to hear his truth and then give it to others.

“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. . . . Then the LORD called Samuel . . . and Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant hears'” (1 Samuel 3:1, 4, 10).

Will you pray Samuel’s prayer today?