Did God Make the iPhone?
The Evangelical Free Church of America (my church denomination) recently posted an excerpt from my book Don’t Just Send a Resume. The excerpt offers advice to pastors as they navigate the dicey conversation about compensation when interviewing with a church. In the post (and book), I make the statement:
The private nature and the potential misuse of money doesn’t negate its proper use. God made money, and though we tend to abuse it (just like sex, food, and exercise), God is not uncomfortable with the material world. He made it and called it good. So don’t shy away from talking about money in the final stages of a job search. Godly people can talk about money in godly ways.
In the comment section under the blog post, a man named Jay wrote:
Thanks for writing, Benjamin, and for publishing your work here for our benefit. I was surprised at your statement that “God made money.” Would you also ascribe cars, light bulbs, credit cards and other examples of human technology to God’s creative power?
My response to Jay was probably too long for a comment under a blog, but by itself it was a smidge too short to use as a blog post. So, I took my reply to Jay and expanded it here for us. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I wrote. Have you ever thought about whether God made money and technology? Here’s what I think . . .
Great question, Jay. Thanks for asking it. I’m actually pondering my own sentence in deeper ways now that you’ve asked about it. I tend to think the answer to the question, Did God make technology? is both yes and no.
If there is a way to positively affirm that God “makes” technology, then I’m sure we’d both agree that God doesn’t make technology the same way he made Adam (and trees and stars and so on). The Bible has no “Let us make an iPhone.” And neither does God work at a Ford plant or in a cubical at Visa’s headquarters. Cars and credit cards—and I guess everything else—are made by people.
But in another sense, I do think the Scriptures teach that God is behind all human ingenuity. Every good and perfect gift, writes James, comes down from God (1:17). How many lives are saved through advances in medical technology? I know that every time I use Neosporin or get an MRI, I’m thankful to God for these good gifts. I recently went on a field trip with my daughter to the Civil War Museum here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and I’m certainly thankful God has caused medical practices to improve from those days of ghastly limb amputation.
A verse that has also been helpful to me is Deuteronomy 8:18. Moses instructs God’s people, “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth...” Moses wants us to see God as the one behind our ability to make money. Another way to say this would be to say that God wants us to remember he is behind all “human” ingenuity and all “human” industry.
Here’s one other idea that I think is helpful. When Adam and Eve were in the garden before the fall, they were charged with caring for it. Have dominion over paradise and subdue it, God told them. Adam and Eve were to cultivate the raw, unformed aspects of Eden, in a comparable way to how God created and cultivated his creation in Genesis 1. But as soon as Adam and Eve used any tool other than their hands and fingernails to plant crops, or as soon as they made a knife to cut their food, couldn’t we call these tools, crude as they were, technologies?
I’m not saying that everything people make is good or that when good things are made, they are always made in ways that honor God. They are not. When certain people attempted to build a skyscraper to heaven so that they could make a name for themselves, God confused their languages as a judgment against them (Genesis 11). They “weaponized” their God-giving ingenuity and used it against their Creator.
We should look up at the night sky and say, “Look how awesome God is” because the heavens are his handiwork (Psalm 19). But we can also stand on the roof of the Empire State Building overlooking the sea of skyscrapers and say, “Look how awesome God is.” This is precisely what King Nebuchadnezzar did not do when he scanned the majesty of his kingdom. While his boastful words were still in his mouth, God judged Nebuchadnezzar for his refusal to see God’s sovereign hand behind the pomp of the kingdom (Daniel 4:28ff).
God aims to get all of his glory for all that he has done, which is why it’s important for us to see God’s role in “making” things he doesn’t directly make. “For from him and through him and to him,” the Apostle Paul writes, “are all things. To him be glory forever” (Romans 11:36).