How Does Apple Affect Your Faith?

September 10, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement | Tags: faith, technology, commerce, consumption, consumerism

In case you missed it, Apple held their annual new gadget release party yesterday. Yes, there will be a new iPhone (the 6s, "We have changed everything about these iPhones," said Tim Cook). There even will be a new style of iPad, the iPad Pro (bigger and faster than ever). Many predict that Apple will continue with strong sales as long as they continue to produce new and improved products on a regular basis.

I admit I like Apple products. I have an iPhone and an iPad (I'm writing this article on my iPad). They have proved incredibly helpful in every day life, even for ministry. Ready, in hand, is the access to databases, emails, the Bible in multiple translations (even Greek and Hebrew), planning tools for worship services, etc. I even have a 1,500 volume theological library on my iPad (much easier to carry that around than even one of the volumes).

Now, before it sounds like I'm making a sale pitch for Apple products or the like, we need to be "wise as serpents" regarding the marketing schemes of for-profit businesses like Apple. If we listened to Tim Cook, and heeded his annual pitches, we would be buying a new iPhone every year. What kind of impact does this "gotta have the newest and best product" mentality have on our faith, not to mention our wallets?

T. David Gordon, professor of religion and media ecology at Grove City College, has probed deeply into the implications of the lust-for-newness consumerism that pervades our culture. He says, "Commerce requires consumers to consume; and commerce manipulates consumption by creating a false sense of dissatisfaction with the old, so that individuals long for something newer" (Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns, p. 106). As applied to the church and worship and other aspects of our faith, Christians who are caught up with a "false sense of dissatisfaction with the old" tend to ignore (even reject) the rich resources for their faith produced throughout the history of the church. This consumerism creates the false adage that "if it ain't new, it ain't good" (equally false would be the adage "if it's old, it must be good").

Jude calls us to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). "The faith" Jude speaks about is not one's personal belief in Christ, but the object of that personal belief: the truth about Christ by which one is saved. That truth has been "delivered to the saints" and commanded to be entrusted "to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). God has preserved the truth of Christ throughout the history of the church. We have a historic faith that is Good News, but it is not new for the 21st century. There is much good to gain from the saints who have passed before us.

Be wary of the latest marketing appeal. New is not always necessary nor good for you. Also be aware of how this environment that exalts new and disparages old may affect your perspective on your faith and the things of the church. New is not always necessary nor good for you.

- Pastor Dale

BTW: Let me encourage you to take advantage of the privilege we have this weekend to sit under T. David Gordon's teaching. He is a probing thinker and will be, I trust, a blessing to you and your faith.


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