Today’s Professional

The man of today is no longer able to understand his neighbor because his profession is his whole life, and the technical specialization of this life has forced him to live in a closed universe. He no longer understands the vocabulary of others. Nor does he comprehend the underlying motivations of others

– Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, p. 132

The Technological Society

Jacques Ellul (author of The Technological Society) wrote the following around 50 years ago:

But man himself is overpowered by technique [read: technology] and becomes its object. The technique which takes man for its object thus becomes the center of society; this extraordinary event… is often designated as technical civilization… Technical civilization means that our civilization is constructed by technique (makes a part of civilization only what belongs to technique), for technique (in that everything in this civilization must serve a technical end), and is exclusively technique (in that it excludes whatever is not technique or reduces it to technical form)… Today technique has taken over the whole of civilization.

That was Ellul’s observation around 50 years ago. And to think that there was no internet, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Skype, no email, no cellphones, no laptops then! His words ring even truer today. Technology is all around us. We are drowning in it. We have become so habituated, dependent and enslaved to it that without it our lives are paralyzed. In technology we live, and move, and have our being.

Servants

When we take up the role of servants, we do precisely what the powerful prefer not to do: put ourselves in a position where our power is of little use. Rather than asserting the privilege the powerful have to control their environment and avoid humbling experiences, we seek Christ in the places where we will not be noticed, will not seem useful and will not receive praise. Servants are anonymous and often all but invisible, and the more powerful we become, the more we should seek out opportunities for anonymity and invisibility.

— Andy Crouch, Culture Making, p. 228

Culture and Grace

I learned something new today from Andy Crouch’s Culture Making: the fact that “Culture… is not just the site of human rebellion against God, not just the site of God’s judgment against sin, it is also the site of God’s mercy.” After Adam and Eve sinned they made coverings out of fig leaves, but God saw that such wouldn’t be enough to protect them from the dangers they would face outside the garden, so he replaces these with garments of skin. God in his mercy improves their culture. Also, it is surprising that, though the Bible story begins with a garden, it ends with a city – the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21. As Crouch puts it:

In the remade world, the center of God’s creative delight is not a garden but a city. Somehow the city, the embodiment of concentrated human culture, has been transformed from the site of sin and judgment to the ultimate expression of grace, a gift coming ‘down out of heaven from God.’

I am reminded of the importance of having a redemptive, instead of an escapist, attitude towards the world – the city and culture. As a Christian, I am called by God to seek the good of the city.

… human culture’s darkest moments provoke not just God’s explicit and sorrowful judgment, they also prompt a cultural countermove, a new cultural artifact introduced by God into the story to protect human beings from the worst consequences of their choices. God never allows human culture to become solely the site of rebellion and judgment; human culture is always, from the very beginning, also marked by grace.

Culture: Its Theological Justification

Colin Gunton in The One, the Three and the Many offers this  theological justification for culture:

The distinctive feature of created persons is their mediating function in the achievement of perfection by the rest of creation. They are called to the forms of action, in science, ethics and art – in a word, to culture – which enable to take place the sacrifice of praise, which is the free offering of all things, perfected, to their creator. Theologically put: the created world becomes truly itself – moves towards its completion – when through Christ, and the Spirit, it is presented perfect before the throne of the Father. The sacrifice of praise which is the due human response to both creation and redemption that takes the form of that culture which enables both personal and non-personal worlds to realize their true being.

To my mind, the foregoing is at the end of the day simply an exposition – albeit a brilliant one – of Ephesians 2:10:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The New Calvinism

There seems to be a resurgence of interest in Calvinism in the USA. I think it has reached even the Philippines and Bacolod City. Many young Christians I know are familiar with John Piper and John MacArthur. DYVS airs messages by both Piper and MacArthur and other Reformed preachers such as Alister Begg. As far as I know Jurem Ramos seems to be the most notable Reformed preacher we have in the Philippines. Click HERE to read about the New Calvinism.