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Tony Reinke Delivers Scudder Lecture on, “Where Does Technology Come From?”

Posted February 12, 2024 by Brett Fredenberg

KANSAS CITY, Mo—Tony Reinke, senior teacher at Desiring God and host of the Ask Pastor John podcast, visited Midwestern Seminary on February 6 to deliver the annual Scudder Lecture. He addressed the question, “Where does technology come from?”

In his lecture, Reinke focused on the providential purpose of technology, how Christians are to respond to technological advancements, and concluded with four application points for Christians interacting with technology.

He began by sharing the news of the recent discovery of an enormous deposit of phosphate rock in Southwestern Norway, which in turn will provide enough minerals to meet the global demand for batteries and solar panels for the next 100 years.

Responding to such news though, he lamented, Christians tend to go in different directions. Some may be compelled to view technological news as a political statement, others see it as “greedy man doing greedy things,” while still others would be tempted to respond as the Luddites, opposing these discoveries and viewing technology as evil.

“Our minds don’t naturally move from mining discoveries to the Creator,” Reinke shared, interacting with such beliefs. “And it will not without a reshaping and recalibrating of our hearts.”

He said, “When it comes to the elements deep inside the earth that we excavate and build into shiny new metal things, [we think] that God’s glory diminishes. By the time we take those materials and make batteries and solar panels out of them, for many believers, God has been rendered completely irrelevant.”

From Deuteronomy 8:1-10, Reinke went on to counter these convictions by sharing the story of God’s people entering the promised land, which was “furnished with everything they could possibly need, even for their future innovations.”

He spoke to God’s providence in providing a good land for His people to live in, saying, “Long ago this land was being readied for God’s thirsty people before God’s people even existed. God is comprehensively aware of the entire scope of our material lives, and He makes a creation to meet it.”

The natural resources designed for the flourishing of the many, in this text, included stones of iron and copper, Reinke pointed out. Iron and copper, he noted, would contribute to the comprehensive nature of the good life among God’s people, including the spheres of the political, social, economic, religious, military, and more.

“All of Israel’s future tool needs and technologies were met and pre-coded into the good land by God from the beginning of time as a gracious gift of the Creator’s design, given in order to shape Israel’s material future,” he said. “God’s sovereign design for any nation is tied to its available natural resources, and God receives all the praise.”

Reinke concluded his lecture with four application points that only Christians can affirm when it comes to human inventions and technologies advancements:

  1. Follow human inventions back to the Creator.

He said, “Israel’s future inventions are coded in creation. The God who laid the foundations of the world is the same God who infused iron and copper into that creation for His people’s material prosperity.” He referenced Charles Spurgeon, who publicly affirmed the source of technological advancements in coal mining and electricity to the Creator.

  1. Marvel at God’s glory exposed in mining discoveries.

Reinke emphasized the importance of mining work for uncovering the “otherwise unseen, creative brilliance” of God. Quoting Abraham Kuyper, he said, “If there had been no human being to bring these treasures to the surface and to let the luster of the gold shine, to bring out the brilliance of the diamond by cutting it, then God would have never received the honor and praise for these minerals.”

  1. Enjoy the Creator in inventions.

He asked, “Do you see God’s generosity in human discoveries or not? The only explanation for why anything in this world works, why technology and iPhones work, why computers and batteries work, is all owing to the power and generosity of God in the creation that He gave us.”

  1. Employ inventions to reach the nations.

Technology was designed to be a servant of God’s purposes in the world through the Church, he said. “We often make the mistake of thinking that technology is outside of redemptive history and inconsequential to the Church, but technologies are a servant of God’s redemptive plan. We have technology because we have a mission.”

Reinke closed his lecture by encouraging attendees to never grow cold to God’s generosity on display for His people in His creation, but to marvel at the 10,000 innovations Christians rely on each and every day.

Watch the full Scudder Lecture here.

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