Following Jesus in A Digital Age – Jason Thacker

Following Jesus in a Digital Age Jason Thacker
Following Jesus in a Digital Age by Jason Thacker
Also by this author: Following Jesus in a Digital Age
Published by B&H Publishing on August 30, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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We were told technology would make our lives easier and more convenient, but technology just seems to have made it more complicated and confusing. As Christians, what does our faith have to do with these pressing issues of life in a digital age? 
In Following Jesus in a Digital Age, you will not only be challenged on how technology is shaping your walk with Christ, but you will also be equipped with biblical wisdom to navigate the most difficult aspects of our digital culture—including the rise of misinformation, conspiracy theories, social media, digital privacy, and polarization.
God calls his people to step into the challenges of the digital age from a place of hope and discernment, grounded in His Word. How will you follow Him in the digital age?

Technology is inherently amoral. It’s a tool that empowers people and intensifies their moral abilities. People who would lie to dozens can now lie to thousands. Evil can be spread quickly, easily, and anonymously. But it can also be a tool for great good. Technology can unify, it can spread awareness, it can pinpoint areas of need, it can spread truth. It’s all in how we use it. In Following Jesus in a Digital Age, Jason Thacker outlines some ways in which we should be aware of the influence that technology (the social internet, in particular) has on us.

Thacker is the chair of Research in Technology Ethics for the ERLC and teaches philosophy, ethics, and worldview at Boyce College, making him a perfect fit to talk about this subject. His introduction frames technology as a discipling tool, something that molds our beliefs and behaviors. That foundation sets the tone for everything that follows. Even if you end up not agreeing with Thacker on some elements of specifics, you have to agree with his foundation that the social internet has an indelible and often unconscious influence on us. Simply being aware of how we are being discipled and making ourselves aware of how technology shapes us enables us to take back the reins and shape our experience rather than letting our experience shape us.

Following Jesus in a Digital Age is a quick read, comprised of four 20-40 page chapters. Thacker frames the discussion around pursuits and writes about how we need to be pursue wisdom, truth, responsibility, and identity. The majority of the time is spent on pursuing truth in what Thacker calls “a post-truth age.”

Unfortunately, Thacker almost immediately weaponizes this to accuse “the progressive end of the spectrum” of following science regarding vaccination and mental health issues, but ignoring science when it comes to what he terms “biological realities” of gender. It’s a clever argument, but the truth (gasp!) is that science would differentiate between biological sex and sociological gender. When you look at “accepted” science, it’s clearly on the “progressive end of the spectrum.” It’s a bad argument that weakens the books’ message and contributes to the polarization that Thacker decries later in the book.

In fairness, Following Jesus in a Digital Age also excoriates evangelical conservatives for their commitment to the Trump administration’s lies like *checks notes* the numbers at his inauguration. Okay. Hardly the most relevant or prominent example. He writes that the point isn’t to get hung up on political matters, but that’s precisely what he’s done in this attempt to show how “both sides” have defined truth as whatever fits their cultural narrative.

Elsewhere in the book Following Jesus in a Digital Age has good information about how social media algorithms reinforce echo chambers, how arguing from behind a screen to anonymous others has caused a breakdown in civility, how social media providers collect and use our data, and more. In terms of content, it’s all a bit jumbled and could have been presented more clearly. Other than his obvious political and social biases, Thacker offers a pretty generic and standard book on how the social internet shapes us with a few basic thoughts on acting Christlike online. It’s fine, but it’s not quite as rigorous, practical, or deep as I had hoped.