Discussing
Smartphones and salvation

Nathan Bierma

Ty Woznek
January 5, 2011

I asked myself that question a couple of times. I don't think the phone is so much the idol. It's work vs people. Here is why I say that:<br>1) I wrote down all that I do with my phone.<br>2) I then wrote how I did each of those things prior to the all holy &amp; omnipresent iPhone. If new, I marked it new.<br>3) I then wrote down where I worked vs where I worked before on each item.<br><br>I found 2 things. 1) I worship work more than the phone. 2) While still navigating numerous things done on 1 device, I am able to be present for my kids more. It is easier to put the phone to sleep, give hugs or fix a train, and then resume work then it is to walk away from a computer and do the same.<br><br>Good question raised.

Moe_NYC
January 5, 2011

Uh, do you mean to tell me that having over 30 apps on my iPhone, reading my Bible on my iPhone, keeping a journal on my iPhone and spending much more time looking down is making my iPhone an idol? Psst! The nerve!<br><br>But What you don't understand is that I have made a drastic change in my lifestyle and spend less time now looking down on my iPhone. You see, I got an iPad. It really did save me from my iPhone. :)<br><br>On a more serious note, I do agree that smartphones and social media (yes, I went there) are taking a front seat in the altar of our hearts and we are letting God take the back seat. One thing I've done to "test" my dependence on my smartphone is trying to leave it home on purpose one full day and see how I react. If I go nuts and I am uneasy, then it does reveal a little too much "reliance" on my smartphone and less on God.

Monica Stanley Groothof
January 5, 2011

I don't have a cell phone to idolize, but this computer I'm typing at easily becomes an idol. Sometimes I'm so engrossed by what's on the screen, I don't even see the more pressing things sitting on my desk RIGHT BESIDE IT!<br><br>Thanks for your comments, especially the line about not trusting an idol to save you from your idols!<br><br>FYI: I used this ad as part of a call to confession during a worship service a few weeks ago. The prayer following it asked God to forgive us for when we ignore the world beyond our own noses (or cell phones). I blogged about it here: <a href="http://4thpoint.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/really/" rel="nofollow">http://4thpoint.wordpress.com/...</a><br><br>~Stan

Nbierma
January 5, 2011

excellent points and ideas .. I should try that myself. <br><br>so if work is the real idol, do you think it's a more or less dangerous idol (than a smartphone)? what if you work for a Christian organization?

Rickd
January 5, 2011

Is it a forgone conclusion that we must all have idols? The Biblical concept of an idol is a physical object that we worship ascribing supernatural powers to it. Idols are still present in native American rituals, occult rituals and in most countries of the world. They are not metaphors. If you have an idol in your life, I say you better get rid of it real quick...read Deuteronomy. I don’t worship my iphone, I don’t offer food to it, pray to it, dance around it. Heck, I don’t even really like it. They’re awkward to hold and speak into, sound quality doesn’t compare to land lines and I rarely use the super duper features and Apps. I just want to talk on the phone. And it lets me check my e-mail on business trips and access the internet. Now my Powerbook, that’s indispensable. Boy, that commercial for the Microsoft product is typical. They just never get it.

MCHadley
January 5, 2011

I think for me the moment I realized it was after having a conversation with a friend about my girlfriend complaining I was "too into technology." My defense of course was my degree in communications and media prod requires me to be....up to date on technology. He pointed out that in the space of that 8min conversation, I had checked my BlackBerry about 5 times. I think we get these devices and we're told, it will help you work, you can get your email wherever and it will solve problems. But it tends to create more problems, having access to everything at anytime, isn't necessarily the best thing. It's easy to txt someone to talk and never really talk. I think smartphones have become a result of our society trying to be more productive, we care about quantity, not quality. Jesus didn't spend large amounts of time in one place, as soon as they started wanting to make Him king, he'd move on. But the time He spent there was quality time, not months. Smartphones can be an idol, because an idol is anything that comes between you and God. I'm not saying they're evil and need to be destroyed. But we need to learn how to manage our time on them, so that we can correctly connect with the society around us and share Jesus.

Benjer McVeigh
January 6, 2011

Perhaps the fact that I don't remember the last time I sat down to go to the bathroom without getting out my iPhone is an indication (I draw the line pulling it out at the urinal, though).<br><br>TMI? Maybe. But it's confession time, right?

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
January 6, 2011

I especially appreciated Nathan's post because I just jumped into the smartphone game about a month ago. I'm not sure I'm idolizing it yet, but it's such a fun toy it does remind me of the obsessive giddiness I used to have about my playthings as a kid.<br>There are danger signs: I took it on a recent vacation because I knew the hotel had wi-fi, something I wouldn't have done with my old phone. Then again, the ability to have our sister project, the Today devotional, pop up right away each morning on the phone has allowed me to be much more discplined about my devotional life. Not too many idols will help you wih that.

Nbierma
January 6, 2011

Best book on the biblical concept of idolatry I know of is We Become What We Worship by Gregory Beale.

Brooklyn Cravens
January 6, 2011

Idolatry is the outward expression that we are more important than God. Feeding our will seems more important than seeking his.

Todd Hertz
January 6, 2011

I also recommend Timothy Keller's Counterfeit Gods. Excellent book.

Ty Woznek
January 6, 2011

Yes. A smart phone you can throw into a lake. Work is a heart attitude that can be even more distracting. The smart-phone is just a symptom when work is the idol.<br><br>Work is work regardless of vocation. I tell my boyz during the week that I got to work, and on Sundays we are going to church. We distinguish between the duty of the pastor and the worship of the pastor. We feel farming is as much a spiritual act as pastoral counseling.

Rickd
January 6, 2011

Todd &amp; Nathan, I have a tendency to get myself in trouble or to be needlessly contentious. So please let me know if I am doing that. <br><br>I’ve sat through 40 years worth of sermons by rationalist western churchmen dealing with having idols in the heart and it never basically seemed to ring true. Not because we don’t put other things before God, which is definitely true, but identifying that as idolatry seems to say, “we are too modern and not naive enough to worship real idols. So for us, they MUST be metaphors”. But I think in all 124 references in the Bible to idolatry it really is speaking of veneration of physical objects. Somehow I don't think iPhones or work rise to that level. Idols are still a reality in many communities in America and most countries of the world. I have been in many contemporary homes with a Buddhist shrine and incense burner or figurine of Buddha or a Hindu Goddess. Idols are also taken seriously in some native American, native Hawaiian or Afro-cuban cultures in the states. <br><br>One of my points of view is that westerners fail to take the reality of the supernatural seriously, hence this critique. I read Timothy Kellers book last year and felt like I was reading a typical evangelical sermon, albeit a good one. Recently I read a review of Keller’s book by Timothy Kaufman and came across some brief paragraphs that kind of express how I feel as well:<br><br>“I read Counterfeit Gods, and from the beginning, I had a difficult time taking the book seriously due to some basic exegetical liberties Keller took with the Scriptures. For example, this from pg. xiv of Counterfeit Gods, <br><br>"In Ezekiel 14:3, God says about elders of Israel, 'these men have set up their idols in their hearts.' Like us, the elders must have responded to this charge, 'Idols? What idols? I don't see any idols.' God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things." <br><br>But the entire verse (Ezekiel 14:3) says, "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?" <br><br>In fact the rest of Ezekiel is about how Israel did not "forsake the idols of Egypt" (20:8), and there are about 39 references to physical idols, like this one: "and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols" (6:9), and this one, "and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols" (6:4) and this one, "So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel" (8:10). <br><br>It is not clear how Keller could read Ezekiel, and then have the elders of Israel asking "Idols? What idols? I don't see any idols." It's a cute catch phrase, but hardly stellar exegesis. As Ezekiel said over and over, the idols were right in front of their faces, before their very eyes.” <br>

CoryZ
January 10, 2011

"How will Microsoft’s phone save us?"<br>By getting hacked, lots of viruses, and not work correctly forcing people to abandon their phones.

Sophie Corey
January 15, 2011

I think that we should have rules and the the Lord,s Supper should be taken as very important subjet

Julihic
March 23, 2011

The best answer I can give is my daughter's latest story: <br>'Mommy wanted an iPhone really much but it was really just temptation. Just like the snake said to Adam and Eve "You will know everything if you eat this apple", he said to Mommy, "You can Google everything if you buy this iPhone". But it was only later that Mom realized the symbol on the iPhone: an apple.'

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