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

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  424 ratings  ·  83 reviews
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 emb ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 24th 2011 by Kregel Publications
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Douglas Wilson
This was an outstanding book -- I really enjoyed it. I will be commenting on it further on my blog, but for the present let me say that there is a wealth of balanced information here about technology that will prove to be a great practical blessing to any Christian who wants to know how to incorporate new technologies into a sane lifestyle. Great job.
Brian Koser
Reading this book felt like a puzzle piece clicking into an empty spot I didn't even know was there. Dyer makes a compelling case against the idea that technology is morally neutral. He doesn't claim that technology is inherently good or inherently evil, rather that it's inherently transformational regardless of whether we use it for good or evil. For example, the mind of a person who reads mainly books will be different than the mind of a person who reads mainly Twitter; regardless if you read ...more
Joel Arnold
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it
I've heard other reviewers call this the best Christian book to read on technology, and I definitely agree. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it's a great book or even a good book. When Dyer sticks to the task of building a biblical theology of technology his work is (usually) excellent. Where he goes wrong is in his reliance on the McLuhan / Postman line of thought with all of the normal intellectual faults media ecology brings: (1) untenable historiography, (2) postmodern emphasis on the contex ...more
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Take a moment to survey the number of electronic gadgets you have within easy reach right this moment. You probably have a cell phone in your pocket, a computer right in front of you, and a tablet not too far away. In fact, you are surrounded with more technology than you even realize, and it is changing you in ways you probably do not suspect. As a Christian, this should be concerning to you. How should Christians interact with technology? Is it truly the soul-consuming demon some alarmists mak ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Probably 2.5... A good treatment of the theology of technology. It included several perspectives I hadn't considered before. One thought I particularly liked was that "we tend today to cultivate the skill of searching for and accessing information rather than acquiring information, committing it to memory, and allowing it to shape our minds and hearts." in the end I appreciate the reminder that we are called not to try to recapture a past age or race into the future but rather "to live faithfull ...more
Tori Samar
This is a thought-provoking book about how Christians should understand and approach technology. I greatly appreciate Dyer's care in "striking a balance" on the issue, as it were. He neither lambasts technology as a total detriment to humanity nor holds it up as something to be wholeheartedly embraced. Instead, he points us to discernment, advising us to recognize that every technology brings with it a certain set of values and to determine where those values support or oppose God's values. Dyer ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent philosophical / theological read on how technology, with respect to God, humans and the world.
Mark Jr.
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, kindle
A little story at the very beginning of this book is the one that has stuck with me:

Throughout my years in seminary, I continued to study and work hard in both theological studies and programming. I spent as much time learning Greek and Hebrew as I did learning languages like PHP, C#, Python, HTML, and JavaScript. But in my final semester of seminary, a professor, who was known both for his brilliance and shocking, out-of-nowhere statements, said something that changed everything for me. In the
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: apologetics
I really liked parts and completely disagreed with others. It gave me a lot to think about and bored me.
I appreciated that he started by accepting the Bible as true from the very first verse and built his theory from there.
Then there was that bit where he was talking about how God forbade the making of idols… He explained how the medium of an idol would cheapen God in the eyes of those who accepted it as God, then turned around and excused the making of idols, images of God, for people today.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Awaiting the arrival of this book, I wondered just how much the author would bash cell phones and the internet. I use both excessively and I honestly didn’t want to hear it. Yes, my curiosity got the best of me, so I decided I’d read the book.

I liked this book!

I thought technology began somewhere in the last hundred years, but the author took me on a road trip back to the beginning of time to prove otherwise. Who knew that technology is nothing new! The connection made between technology and God
Ronia Dubbaneh
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Before this book, I never really gave thought to the implications of technology beyond surface-level questions like "how does it help us? how does it harm us?" But, as this book showed me, there are much deeper realities and truths surrounding technology. This is a brief, simple, yet sharp analysis of how technology fits into the larger story of our creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Great eye-opener as to technology's transformative power over us, but its ultimate place of submission ...more
Neil R. Coulter
Feb 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
“The one thing that transcends all cultural, religious, and age boundaries, the one thing that is common among rich and poor and young and old, is the fact that we share a lifestyle saturated with technology” (20). This seems like a too-obvious statement, but John Dyer explores not just the ubiquitous presence of technology (which he defines very broadly to include any tool that humans use) but its effects on us. The tools we use shape us, he asserts—they modify us, mentally, physically, and soc ...more
Josh Davis
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really thoughtful book on technology and how it relates to the Bible and faith. Dyer has clearly reflected on such issues deeply and he shares many pearls of wisdom with his readers. I've been reading a variety of books and articles on the intersection of faith and technology and this has been my favorite so far. Much appreciated was the author's interaction with the Bible. I wasn't able to get very excited about his chart at the end of the book, but overall Dyer has produced a challenging and u ...more
Ted Ryan
What a fantastic treatment of the subject of technology in the Christian life. This was enormously helpful. The author’s grasp of Biblical teaching and theology woven together with his understanding of technology provided many opportunities for deep insight.

“Jesus warned that when we attach a mouth to our heart, bad things often come out. That sinfulness is amplified all the more when we attach something as powerful as the internet to our hearts.”
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Must Read! Captured my thoughts through-out the day as I considered what really is technology, why is it good and why is it problematic. So interesting to realize that God has used technology to further His purposes and wants people to use it well. This is a book to return to in the future.
Bethany R
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great Christian view on the use and usefulness of technology.
Deanne Davies
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent book on thinking deeply about viewing technology through a Biblical lens.
Kamryn Koble
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-for-school
Read for COS 104 at Taylor University. Presents valuable thoughts on the positive and negative (never neutral) effects of technology, particularly with a Christian worldview.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
Parts were 5 stars, even. One of the best of its kind.
Matthew Richey
Helpful and balanced.
Feb 17, 2021 added it
Had to read for school. It's fine. ...more
Christian Yonatan
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever despaired of the advent of modern technology, and wondered why the Lord never said anything in His Word about this? Like me, have you struggled for how to handle the ever-ongoing advances in technological know-how in a God-honoring and God-fearing way? The truth is, I think that most of us have from time to time. We despair over finding the answer in God's Word.

In reality, we only had to, as the Lord would often chide his disciples, have faith. We merely needed to examine the Scri
Jared Totten
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
At the risk of sharing details that no one is interested in, the books that I review are always and only sent to me from publishers upon my request. So when Kregel Publications sent me two books unsolicited, I was certain there had been some sort of mistake. Only after contacting Kregel did I find there had been no error. Rather, Kregel is so excited and confident in their products, they decided to send them out to prior reviewers. Initially I was slow to pick up the books since I felt no obliga ...more
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
Ever wonder if technology is becoming too powerful in our daily lives? Besides noticing how people rarely meet face to face these days in light of access to social media sites and the benefits of instant messaging and text messaging, even the average phone call is almost becoming obsolete. So is technology really helping us or hurting us?

In the recent book, From The Garden to the City by John Dyer, he discusses the benefits of the redeeming and corrupting power of technology in our lives. From e
Lisa Johnson
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was not sure exactly what I expected when I signed up to read and blog this particular book. Perhaps one thing I was looking for was what perspective it would place before its’ readers. I was not raised with a computer keyboard, but a typewriter. I was not raised in a time when people sent text messages, but instead wrote letters, sent cards, or called. Having to learn how to use a computer, how to navigate the World Wide Web, learn about various browsers, and so much more has been a long and ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: technology
A fine introduction to the predicament of the technological age and a wake-up call to those who still doubt that technology is not neutral. A good introduction―no radical answers, no call to smash machines nor overtake Twitter for Christ―and a volume that provides a platform for asking the right questions and that lays out both technology's historical and theological contexts and the contemporary technological quandaries we face.

In brief, Dyer says we need to intentionally create focal places in
As intended, this work is a great quick primer to thinking about technology. He begins with a definition of technology, which is not new to me but I think can really begin shifting how people think of technology, very much along the lines of the ubiquitous quote attributed to Alan Kay, "technology is anything that wasn't around when you were born." With this foundation, Dyer gives us a whirlwind tour through the development of societies, from the introduction of new languages at the Tower of Bab ...more
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a fascinating and oftentimes convicting books. The author traces the development of technology through the story of God and shows how it can sometimes have both redeeming and corrupting elements to it. Technology has the power to shape our lives, and even our culture, and so we need to look at how that is taking place and evaluate if that is good or bad. I love how this sums up the book:

"The great temptation of the digital generation is to inadvertently disagree with John and assume that o
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Review on @BigBible 1 5 Nov 15, 2013 04:35AM  

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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 fo ...more

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43 likes · 4 comments
“One of the most dangerous things you can believe in this world is that technology is neutral.” 2 likes
“And when we run into technology failures and problems—dropped calls, the Blue Screen of Death, smog, and so on—let’s not curse our tools like fools do. Instead, when the medicine no longer works, let us redirect our hope away from our tools and to the one who will restore all human things, human souls, human bodies, and human creations.” 2 likes
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