From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology
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From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology

Kregel Publications / Paperback

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In Stock
Stock No: WW426681

Product Description

Technology--from the first stone tool to the latest smartphone--has changed our daily routine, the way we communicate, and even how we encounter God. We often laud the benefits of technology (increased quality of life, faster ways to spread the gospel) or bemoan the detriments of technology (decreased attention spans, reduced interpersonal contact) but fail to properly address its transformative power. Where does technology belong in the biblical story of redemption?

From the Garden to the City deconstructs the concept of technology and examines it through the lens of Scripture. Studying Bible passages and insights from the best thinkers on technology, theology, and culture, John Dyer shows how technology left unexamined can enslave us rather than honor God and fulfill his plan for us. With helpful observations and practical application, Dyer issues an urgent challenge to live faithfully in this technology-saturated world.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 192
Vendor: Kregel Publications
Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 (inches)
ISBN: 0825426685
ISBN-13: 9780825426681

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Publisher's Description

Where does technology belong in the biblical story of redemption?

Believers and unbelievers alike are saturated with technology, yet most give it little if any thought. Consumers buy and upgrade as fast as they can, largely unaware of technology's subtle yet powerful influence. In a world where technology changes almost daily, many are left to wonder: Should Christians embrace all that is happening? Are there some technologies that we need to avoid? Does the Bible give us any guidance on how to use digital tools and social media?

An experienced Web developer and writer on technology and culture, John Dyer answers these questions and more by walking through the story of the Bible and introducing key ideas about how technology and culture interact. Dyer first analyzes the biblical, theological, and philosophical foundations of technology and then studies several examples that show how technology can influence the spiritual life. For youth pastors, college-aged readers, and anyone interested in understanding how technology fits with faith, "From the Garden to the City" fills a gap for biblically-informed literature in a technological world.

"The burgeoning field of internet possibilities has very little written from a Christian perspective, much less from a gifted artist like John Dyer."--J. Scott Horrell, Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

"Of all the voices speaking and writing on the subject today, John Dyer's is among the voices I most respect. His] unique combination of technological and theological passion, insight, and credentials make him an author and thought leader that people of faith need to hear from."--Scott McClellan, editor, "Collide Magazine"


"Technology is almost omnipresent whether we like it or not. So what do we do with this thing that is impacting people everywhere? Very few Christians think a lot about this, but John Dyer has. In a balanced journey through the digital world, he shows us what to like and be aware of about our technological world. From the Garden to the City is more than a trip through the digital world; it is a tor of discovery about a growing part of our lives. Read and discover what technology is and can be." -Darrell Bock, author of Jesus According to Scripture

"We all have a great deal of experience with technology, but few of us have sought to think about technology in a distinctly Christian way. This is one reason I commend John Dyer's From the Garden to the City. As comfortable with theology as he is with technology, Dyer is a steady guide to the digital world we find ourselves in." -Tim Challies, author of The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion

"Slow down for a minute; be still and ponder what John Dyer is addressing in this helpful book. Technology is undeniably reshaping how we communicate with, relate to, and ultimately love one another. If you've ever texted, tweeted, or sent an email to someone who was sitting right next to you at the time, you're affected. It's time for you to read From the Garden to the City." -Bob Lepine, cohost of FamilyLife Today

"It's odd that most of us spend our days immersed in and preoccupied with technology, yet also take its most important features entirely for granted. This book is full of jewels of observation that will help you see technology, the Bible, and your own life afresh. It's frequently funny, surprisingly moving, and consistently smart--a great guide for those who want to begin thinking about how technology shapes us and how we can live faithfully with it." -Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling

Author Info

John Dyer (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) has been a web developer for more than ten years, building tools for Apple, Microsoft, Harley Davidson, and the Department of Defense. He currently serves as the Director of Web Development for Dallas Theological Seminary and lives near Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Amber, and two children, Benjamin and Rebecca. He has written on technology and faith for Christianity Today and Collide Magazine. From the Garden to the City is his first book.

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  1. Booklover10
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    very interesting correlation
    October 4, 2011
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    "I'm attached to my phone." "I spend way too much time on the computer." "Just text me." "Facebook me." "Love my Ipod. I have music at my fingertips all the time." "My husband and I sit in the same room on the same couch and we IM each other." I can honestly say that I've heard someone say one of these comments or I myself have been guilty of these thoughts. For a while, I have thought a lot about technology and the fact that it is good and I like it. However, with all of these new things coming out, I find myself adapting and becoming more reliant on technology. At times, I get lost in blogs because I want to know more about these people who write them, whether they are my friends or blogs that I just enjoy reading or gathering information from.

    John Dyer talks about how technology can affect our relationship with God. He talks about how technology is great at making large groups of people do things that they probably wouldn't do as individuals. He warns about social networking and how powerful it can be in our lives. I think many of us can attest to that. I mean, I (and many of my friends) have had to cut down on computer time because it was eating away into their productive time. I know you've heard people say that they are addicted to Facebook. Dyer brings awareness about how social networking changes our culture, whether good or bad.

    I enjoyed the chapter where he discusses how God can operate both through and against technology if He so chooses. It was a good reminder that technology can have the tendency to rob us of our precious time that God intended for us to use in a different way. This sometimes happens without us knowing it. He shares that the nature of technology is to transform. Think about it. That's usually a sales pitch..."it'll transform the way you spend your time." "It'll make you more productive." "It'll change your life." The question is: How will we let it transform us? Will we let it control us or will we control it? What kind of limits do we need to set for ourselves? When does technology become a problem?

    I never thought about technology in relationship to the Bible and God before. I enjoyed the correlations Dyer made and thought that it was very interesting. If you want to understand this correlation more, check out this book.


    I received this book free rom Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest opinion of this book.
  2. bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    philosophical theology of technology
    September 26, 2011
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 3
    We live in a rapidly developing technological age. Tools are being developed faster than we can evaluate their impact. How should Christians understand this era and the influence technology has upon them?

    Dyer loves God...and technology. He combined seminary studies with computer programming. When a seminary professor stated that one of the most dangerous things to believe was that technology was neutral, it set Dyer thinking. He had been building websites for churches. How could technology not be "neutral"?

    His investigations revealed little about how technology fits into the redemptive story. As he read McLuhan and Postman he began to find some troubling ideas that made him wonder if technology was what it seemed. He started a blog which eventually resulted in this book.

    The title refers to the Garden of Eden and the Jim Jones cult of the 1970s. In both cases people consumed something they didn't fully understand. Is the same thing happening today?

    Dyer notes that prior to the printing press, people heard the Word of God. It has only been the last 500 years that the printed text has been the dominant form of communication. We are returning to a culture of spoken words. What does this change mean?

    There are two ways to understand technology and life, Dyer writes. Either God has a purpose and plan and technology is a part of it, or, there is no God and technology is the answer for the future.

    Dyer examines familiar biblical stories to find clues as to how Christians should approach technology. From Genesis 2, "God designed the world in such a way to be cultivated and shaped by humanity, and when we create we are operating as God's image-bearers." (54) From the Fall, "...we must be careful not to believe the lie that the right tools will enable us to live independent from our Creator..." (73)

    As an example of how technology changes culture, Dyer looks at music. Once it was live musicians, many people producing and many people sharing in the listening. With the advent of the battery operated Walkman in 1979, music became an individual experience available anywhere.

    The views regarding technology can be stated in two extremes: technology is a tool, neither good nor evil (often the view expressed about guns), or, technology is a driving force in our culture, irrespective of human use ("The Internet has made my life..."). Dyer takes a middle ground. "People are culpable for their choices, but technology still plays a role in influencing the decisions they make." (86)

    Where we worship has been influenced by the invention of automobiles. How we worship has been influenced by the invention of sound systems, allowing large congregations.

    From Babel: "Technology does not make people do anything, but it does alter the choices people have in front of them." (107)

    From the ten commandment tablets: God used cutting edge technology of the day. He does not have a "wait-and-see policy." "...[I]nstead God is always working through the tools of the day as he accomplishes his redemptive program." (112)

    He notes that, "...every good technology comes with a trade-off of some kind." (133)

    From creation, our ability to make technology is a reflection of our Creator. From the fall we learn that every technology can be used for sin and rebellion. We also learn that technology can be used for redemptive purposes. In the end God will restore all things, including technology.

    We have the opportunity to worship God whenever we use tools and they work well. We can thank God for the creativity He has given man. But we must also realize the redemptive capacities for technology are limited. At the same time we see great evil conducted through technology

    There are those who think all our problems, now and in the future, will be solved by technology. Some argue this has become a kind of unspoken religion.

    We have information access, all kinds of knowledge at our fingertips. But there is a downside: porn is now abundantly available, we have information overload, almost anyone can publish almost anything, we scan instead of read, and we are constantly interrupted. Much of the Christian life "requires the ability to concentrate and focus on ideas over long periods of time." (165) We have to work against the distractions, the chaos, the complications technology has brought us.

    We are living in the time between the Garden of Eden and the City of God. We could try to avoid technology or we could use technology as much and as often as we can. Either extreme, Dyer says, is failing to live faithfully with what we have been given. (176)

    To faithfully use technology, Dyer suggests five steps: valuation, experimentation, limitation, togetherness, and cultivation. (176-179)

    Dyer's style of writing here is that of textbook quality. He spends much time on the philosophical implications of technology the layman may find distracting. The parent who wants an easy answer to their child and the internet will not find it here. This book is better for the church leader who wants to understand the theological implications of technology.

    I appreciated Dyer's conclusions. I write this review on my laptop while listening to music on an MP3 player and I'll post this on the Internet. I trust all of it is to the glory of God.

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
  3. A Cluttered Mind
    Rochester, MN
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Eye-opening, thought-provoking – I loved it!
    September 25, 2011
    A Cluttered Mind
    Rochester, MN
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I started skimming this book to determine if I would:

    1. Enjoy it at all

    2. Want to read it more thoroughly

    Both became a quick reality. Dyer had me with the opening chapter on Perspective. I am one (was one?) who falls into Douglas Adams' third category of those who view technology: "anything that gets invented after you're thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it's been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really." (Dyer, page 26). I really do use a lot of modern technology. I just don't often care for the way it gets used by all those "young folk."

    Dyer goes on, once he's helped the reader gain some healthy perspective, to lay out how he'll help us look at technology. He uses four "Rs," which is helpful in remembering each category:

    Reflection: How does technology change the way we reflect God's image?

    Rebellion: How does the Fall open today's Christians to potential evils of technology?

    Redemption: How can technology be used to redeem the world for Christ?

    Restoration: How does technology fit into God's plan to restore the earth?

    There's also a great blog tour of this book going on, chapter by chapter, week by week, by a variety of writers over at Check it out. It's very helpful (I only wish I'd known about this earlier; maybe I could have gotten in on it).

    This book has been eye-opening, thought-provoking, and convicting. I look forward to sharing it with you.

    Oh, by the way, I highly recommend it. Five out of five stars!
  4. Ministry Design Coach
    Greenville, SC
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Develop your theology of technology
    September 25, 2011
    Ministry Design Coach
    Greenville, SC
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Book Review: From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology by John Dyer

    The author reveals the origin and history of technology from a biblical point of view. His work will help ground you in your theology of technology so that you can lead others through the same exercise to strengthen their lives so they will know why they are to use it. He clearly points out that technology is not neutral and that believers need to think through and understand the power of technology to bless or curse their lives. This book is John's effort to help us "understand how we can fulfill our role as God's image-bearers in a world very far removed from the garden". He has sought to "dismantle the concept of technology, examine it carefully, and then put it back to together again" while retelling the story of technology in a way that honors the Lord and "the reason He put us here on earth". He will help you understand how mankind has used technology to shape the world and how it can "in turn shape us". I believe John has successfully fulfilled his purpose for the book. I have marked it pages with my highlighter and pen along with posted notes for quick reference in the future. I highly suggest you do the same to help prepare yourself and others to deal properly with the power of technology.
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