Agency, predeterminism or in-between?


Dow Tippett - Contributing columnist



We are surrounded by new technology.

It is making our whole world accessible and creating the loneliest generation in history. Some think this new technology is a wonderful opportunity for great deeds; another described it as “the new Tower of Babel.”

At my site Gig.Church, I write exclusively around the questions arising for the church in our modern culture and gig economy. Specifically, how does the church deliver an eternal message with eternal results in a fast-changing world.

This month I would like to share some of those thoughts.

What we must understand as Christians, and what churches must face as organizations, is the reality that the disruption of “smart” technology is not going away and will force us to address people in new ways, whether we want to or not.

A core disruption comes in an old battle.

Since the beginning of the Protestant Reformation the battle has been fought between Agency and Predeterminism. Not to over-simplify, but on one extreme there are those in Christendom who believe God’s sovereignty dictates that he predetermine all things, and that we are chosen by Him and therefore all things are under His direct influence.

Others believe that God has given man the freedom to determine His own path and that we make the decisions that direct our destiny. Most Christians fall somewhere in-between these extremes.

However, we may in a very short time watch a parable of this very battle played out in our “smart” world.

Even now the debate rages as to how much regulation must be put on corporations that hold large amounts of data on each person on the planet. Those who stand for freedom to all, risk the abuse of that freedom by those who would use our very personal information to take advantage of all.

As one person said recently, “The good of Facebook is to connect more people. The bad is that it also connects terrorists. You can not have the freedom without the evil.”

On the other hand, do we want governments and regulators stepping in to tell us what we can and cannot communicate on such social media sites?

Much like the “Freewill” camp, the agency allowed by such technology as Facebook and Google also allows for corruption. In the world, the freedom to choose or not choose to follow God allows for great evil.

On the other hand, if we regulate all things, then the true benefit of innovation and growth are stifled. In predeterminism, we do not choose God, but are chosen by him alone, thus the requirement on us is simply to be.

I do not propose that I have all the answers to these questions, but I do acknowledge that answering them will require more than just tech geeks.

The church must weigh in, for these debates will determine and be determined by how we view the world.

Dow Tippett is an author, speaker, and leadership coach who writes at dowtippett.com and gig.church.

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Dow Tippett

Contributing columnist