[dropcap3]T[/dropcap3]his November PBU held its second annual Worldview Conference. The conference is one of the many educational opportunities sponsored by the Center for University Studies. The Center’s mission is to engage students and faculty in the great conversation around God, His word, and His world. The Center is also a vehicle to extend PBU’s mission to the broad Christian community and to bring them into the conversation. The role of the Worldview Conference is to address important issues of our day from a biblical perspective. The theme of the conference is chosen on the basis of its importance in our culture and the need of the Christian community to engage with it head on. This year, we believe that the pervasive presence of technology in our lives justifies a careful examination as Christians seek to appraise all things according to the mind of Christ.
This year’s conference typifies the kinds of questions and conversations we need to have in order to be salt and light in the world. First, Christians cannot sleepwalk through life unaware of the forces that influence and control them. Second, in seeking the wisdom of God, Christians should examine prominent cultural values and practices to determine whether they are consistent with a biblical worldview. Becoming biblically-minded means bringing biblical texts to bear upon all facets of our lives. This is more than the application of Scripture, it is an insightful understanding of the implications of biblical texts for our life in the world. Third, we must understand the implications of the decisions that we make in regard to our life in the world. The Worldview Conference deals with each of these questions.
[blockquote]Biblical-mindedness requires of us the wisdom to understand how texts of Scripture speak to the issues of the day.[/blockquote]
This year, we posed the question how this human-made technological world that we live in impacts our Christian thinking and living. We live within a creation created and sustained by God Almighty. We also live in a world built by human beings. Technology not only supplies us with tools to accomplish things, but, more importantly, technology constructs a world. Just think through your daily routine: alarm clocks, coffee-makers, television, radio, newspapers, cellphones, clothes, watches, cars, roads, street signs, power-lines, medicine, and food. For those of us who live in urban or suburban communities, the human-made world can so crowd out our connection with the God-made world that it is easy to forget that we are made in God’s image to serve Him in His creation. When you go to the grocery store and look at the plastic packaging and read the ingredients, is it difficult to remember that the Lord gives the fruit of the earth. At the same time, Marshall McLuhan showed us in the 1960s that technology serves as an extension of our selves and we can become numb to its presence and effects. PBU’s worldview conference on technology hopefully awakened us to the impact (for good or ill) that our technological world exerts upon us.
Our worldview conference takes place at a biblical university. Once aware of the cultural forces that impact us, it is right for us to engage the culture from a biblical perspective. The Bible is difficult to read and understand in numerous places. The Bible narrates for us God’s great works in the past and give us other texts to understand those great works, but it does not deal directly with specific cultural phenomenon today. Biblical-mindedness requires of us the wisdom to understand how the texts of Scripture speak to the issues of the day. For example, it is not obvious that the Old Testament prophets’ critique of idolatry might apply to our technological world? McLuhan states that technology is like idolatry in that both are human-made and conform individuals to them. To support this notion he cites Psalm 115:8, “Those who make them will become like them.” This kind of biblical insight allows us to reflect upon a significant theme in Scripture in light of our own day. Reflection of this kind gets us on a path to consider the implications of biblical texts in our engagement with the world.
At the Worldview Conference, Dr. Nancy Pearcey and Ken Myers took a historical look at technology; going back to the Industrial Revolution and the roots of Modern Science, they analyzed how the development of technology has impacted culture, family, and worldviews. President Williams finished the afternoon by asking attendees to think about how our “gadgets” impact our relationships to one another, to God’s creation, and to God Himself. Faculty members addressed the conference theme in various parallel sessions. Dr. Yoder examined the ethical questions technology raises and Mr. Palladino explored the impact of technology on the future of education. I investigated the way in which biblical worldview present human beings as particular, localized, limited, and embodied creatures, and Dr. Schnittjer illustrated the relation between culture and the moviegoer’s perception of reality.
Raising awareness, thinking biblically, and making wise choices in our day – this is the importance of the PBU worldview conference and the engagement with our culture. The PBU worldview conference is intended to make a real difference in the decisions we make. Hopefully, the impact of the conference is felt in the days and weeks that follow as the participants continue reflecting upon their lives before God in the world. Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” For the Christian the stakes are higher. How can sleepwalking through the world unaware of how Scripture speaks to our life and times be considered a Christian life at all? Paul tells us that he who is spiritual examines all things with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:15-16). The PBU worldview conference is designed just for that.
[framed_box]Brian G. Toews, Ph.D., is the Interim Provost. He has been a member of the PBU faculty since 1993. Dr. Toews is also the head of the Center for University Studies. Interact with Dr. Toews on his PBU blog.