Last week we saw the covenantal nature of communion and how the Lord’s Table not only creates a thick relationship with Christ but also with one another. This week’s sermon furthered that discussion looking at ways we must resist the pulls of demonic-inspired idols. In an applicational message on 1 Corinthians 10:14–22, I argued
- Communion creates culture—for good or bad; therefore,
- Gospel culture reinforces communion with Christ; and
- Godless culture resists communion with Christ; so
- We resist the table of demons by taking our gospel culture public.
From these four points, we considered further how to recognize and resist modern temples, false gospels, and demonic idols. Specifically, we looked at the way iPhones function as modern-day temples with gospel promises, inviting us to make them our functional idols.
1 Corinthians 10:14–22
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
- Review the relationship between communion and covenant. How does sitting down at the Lord’s Table (vv. 16–17), or the altar (v. 18), or the demon’s table (v. 19–21) create communion? What is communion—vertical and horizontal?
- What does communion with Christ require? In other words, how can we grow in our communion? What does communion with Christ require of us in the world? (Consider the analogy of marriage: to say ‘yes’ to your covenant partner requires a thousand ‘no’s’ to other suitors).
- What are the four premises of the message (see above)? What kind of culture does the gospel create? How does a healthy church culture reinforce the gospel? What is a healthy church culture? And why can’t a culture create converts? What happens when a church depends on the culture, instead of the preached Word, to create life?
- How does the world’s culture push against Christians and the church? In what ways are we blind to this cultural resistance? Is it helpful to think of stores and cell phones in terms of temples, gospels, and idols? How will it change the way you go into the world?
- What is the Great Commission? How does a rich gospel culture empower the church to fulfill that Commission? What would it look like for us as a church to be on mission together? How can we have a Great Co-Mission?
- In light of this focus on covenant, communion, culture, and co-mission that we’ve seen in 1 Corinthians 10, how important is the local church? Can we fulfill God’s will for us as isolated individuals? (The answer is ‘no’). In what ways do we need to grow in our understanding of the local church? Consider John 13:34–35; 1 John 2:19; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24–25; and 1 Peter 1:22 ([saved] “for a brotherly love”).
For Further Study
A Biblical Theology of Technology
In 2014 I wrote a five-hour study for my systematic theology class at SBTS. It covered the way in which the study of theology is effected and hindered by our unrestrained consumption of media. I’ve included the notes here. These are notes, not full paragraphs, but if you are interested in the subject, your should be able to follow my train of thought—if you’re not overly distracted by your device.
- Lecture 1: Introduction
- Lecture 2: A Biblical Theology of Technology
- Lecture 3: Technology and Its Effects
- Lecture 4: Redeeming Technology
- Lecture 5: Knowing God Amist Endless Information
David Wells and James K.A. Smith are two of the most perceptive “cultural exegetes” I’ve read. I would commend any of the following.
- God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-Love of God Reorients Our World (2014) — Start here to get a sense of Wells biblical foundations. The other books are much more sociological and philosophical.
- No Place for Truth: Or, What Ever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (1993)
- God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams (1994)
- Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision (1998)
- Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World(2005)
- The Courage to be Protestant: Truth-Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Post-Modern World (2008)
James K. A. Smith
- You are What You Love (2016) — Start here to get an introduction to Smith’s best insights; then pick up his other volumes where he engages philosophy head on.
- Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (2009)
- Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works (2013)
- How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (2014)
On Cell Phones
- Six Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke
- Get Alone Undistracted by Tony Reinke
- The Mistress in Your Pocket by Rob Hurtgen
- I Used to be a Human Being by Andrew Sullivan — Sullydish was one of the most prolific and effective bloggers in the twenty-first century. And it cost him dearly. This New York magazine piece is not short (and it is not from a Christian), but it is well worth the read.
A Short Bibliography on Media Ecology and a Theology of Technology
Classical Studies in Media Ecology
- Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985) — Start here. Anecdotally, it explains 2016’s political fiasco.
- Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (1964)
- Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (1967)
Selections on Technology from a Christian Perspective
- Tim Challies, Data Smog and the Christian Life (July 2008)
- Andy Crouch, “A World without [Steve] Jobs” (August 2011)
- Michael Rosenwald, Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say (Washington Post, April 2014)
- Craig Detweiler, “Defending the Auschwitz Selfie” (CNN, July 2014)
- Brian Appleyard, New Luddites (Newstatesman, August 2014)
- Brett McCracken, Hipster Christianity Revisited (Converge Magazine, August 2014),
- Joseph Hindy, 15 New Technologies (Life Hack, September 2014)
- Nick Bilton, “Steve Jobs Was a Lowtech Parent” (NY Times, September 2014)
- David Roberts, Reboot or Die Trying (Outside, October 2014)
- David Prince, Social Media’s Soulless Society (ELRC, November 2014)
- David H. Hopper, Technology, Theology, and the Idea of Progress (1991)
- Romano Guardini and Louis Dupre, Letters from Lake Como: Explorations on Technology and the Human Race (Ressourcement: Retrieval & Renewal in Catholic… (1994)
- Douglas Groothuis, The Soul in Cyberspace (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 1997) — see also, Conversations: Losing Our Souls in Cyberspace
- Jeffrey Zaleski, The Soul of Cyberspace: How New Technology Is … (1997)
- Shane Hipps, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: … (2006)
- Brent Waters, From Human to Posthuman: Christian Theology And Technology in a Postmodern World (Ashgate Science and Religion… (2006)
- Shane Hipps, Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith (2009)
- Lawrence J. Terlizzesse, Trajectory of the 21st Century: Essays on Theology and Technology (2009)
- Brian Bock, Christian Ethics in a Technological Age (2010)
- Tim Challies, The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion (2011)
- John Dyer, From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011)
- Derek C. Schuurman, Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology (2013)
- Craig Detweiler, iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives (2013)
- Justin Wise, The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication (2014)
- Donna Freitas, The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost (2016)
- Tony Reinke, Twelve Ways Your Phone is Changing You (forthcoming, 2017) — See Tony’s articles (above) for a preview of his insights.
Lord, grant us eyes to behold your beauty and hearts willing to say no to the endless sirens crying out for our affection and attention.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds