Innovators Create by Divine Appointment
Many of the sharpest Christians, who rightly celebrate God’s providential governance over all things, tend to wrongly assume (in practice) that his reign ends somewhere around the boundary lines of Silicon Valley. In reality, innovators—both virtuous ones and nefarious ones—are created by God. Scripture protects us from the myth that God is trying his best to stifle and subdue the unwieldiness of human technology. No, for his own purposes God creates blacksmiths and warriors, both welders and wielders of new tools. Our most powerful innovators exist by divine appointment.
More troubling, many of the world’s most powerful technologists imagine that they have transcended their need for God. And it is their common agnosticism or atheism that explains why Christians today often adopt a negative view of technology. The godlessness of Elon Musk reminds us that the closer you approach Silicon Valley, the fewer Christians you’ll find. The percentage of professing evangelical adults in the US (25.4 percent) drops in California (20 percent) and plummets in San Francisco (10 percent). And the percentage of adults who read Scripture at least once a week in the US (35 percent) sinks in California (30 percent) and plunges in San Francisco (18 percent).1 We assume that God must be withdrawn from such a place. But Isaiah corrects this assumption. The pagan societies where the ancient smith and ravager operated make San Francisco look like it’s part of the Bible Belt.
The rejection of God and the accumulation of innovative brilliance doesn’t give you the power to operate apart from God, like a queen on a chess board who thinks she can move anywhere she wants, impervious to the Master’s ultimate plan. Your innovative brilliance is how God is choosing to wield you in the world. If you find in yourself a zealous impulse to forgo sleep in order to make new innovations, that zeal was implanted inside of you, by the Spirit, for a greater ultimate purpose that far exceeds what you can see.
God created the power-class innovators of the ancient world who trafficked in the world’s most dangerous and destructive tech. Only he does this. The Hebrew word for create (bara) “is used in the Old Testament only of divine action, to express those acts which by their greatness or newness (or both) require a divine agent.”2 In Isaiah 54:16 this word is repeated in front of the smith and the ravager. Makers and wielders of war tech, in any generation, require a maker. God is their maker. His free and unrestrained activity among us, and his ongoing creative acts within this world, are on display even today, as he creates new innovative makers and raises up new wielders of potent technologies. God populates Dubai and Bengaluru and Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley and Silicon Prairie with their most powerful innovators.3
God creates makers, and he creates wielders of technology for beautiful and healing purposes.
God’s claim as the creator of the world’s most powerful industry is a cosmic checkmate for brilliant inventors today who imagine that their powers of innovation have made the Creator irrelevant. No! God wields you as you innovate. Your innovations serve his end. Elon Musk claims to have put in 120-hour work weeks on occasion but says that he’s normally down to a “pretty manageable” 80- to 90-hour work week.4 Why so many hours? Because God created him to work like a farm mule. For all I know, Musk’s motive is for wealth or power or prestige. And it doesn’t matter.
God created Elon Musk to be Elon Musk. Whether you love God, hate God, or ignore God; and whether you seek to meet the needs of humanity in your work, or whether the only thing that gets you out of bed each morning is the promise that you’re going to plunder this world of as much wealth as you can, with a sword or a startup, God wields you for his final purposes. God made you for an end that he set in place. And if technology and innovation are your field, this is where you fulfill that end. God creates makers, and he creates wielders of technology for beautiful and healing purposes. And he creates makers and wielders of technology for gross and ravenous purposes. He’s the potter, as we are told in Romans 9. He may use you to discover the genetic cure for cancer, or he may use you to weaponize a superravager, but he disposes of every innovator as he pleases in his wisdom. We are each accountable for our volitional decisions and our sins. But make no mistake—each and every one of us finally fulfills the Creator’s purpose for our lives.
Isaiah 54:16 destroys every shred of assumption that my powers of innovation make God more distant and less relevant to my life. Only a fool would come to that conclusion. It’s exactly the opposite. God makes innovators. They exist by his design alone. By them he governs humanity’s present, and its future.
- Pew Research Center, “Religious Landscape Study,” pewforum.org (2014).
- J. A. Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 66.
- If the dramatic origin of smiths and ravagers sounds uber-spiritual, it actually illustrates a larger dynamic in the wisdom of God. As one theologian put it: “God does not know things because he came to know them through discovery and deduction. God knows all things because he knows himself, and all things are from him, through him, and to him” (Samuel D. Renihan, Deity and Decree [self-published, 2020], 70). This is true of all creation and every creature. It includes all the gifts and purposes of your life and mine. The depth of God’s wisdom in knowing everything about you and me is not about his ability to search and study the independent lives we lead. No. God’s wisdom of his creatures has everything to do with his sovereign providence, which creates and positions and wields each of his unique creatures according to his own design. Therefore, the “depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” over his creation is because all of creation is “from him and through him and to him” (Rom. 11:33–36). All conscious creatures “were created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16). God is “over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6). The Creator, even today, “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11). God governs each of his creatures toward good ends (directly). And he governs all sin and evil (indirectly). But he really governs all things, including the vocational decisions of his creatures.
- Eric Johnson, “Full Q&A: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Recode Decode,” vox. com (Nov. 2, 2018).
This article is adapted from God, Technology, and the Christian Life by Tony Reinke.
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