|Dr. Rosell leading workshop on ethical issues|
New tools expand our abilities but those also bring their own challenges. During Central Seminary’s “The Church in a Virtual Age” Conference last week, Professor Terry Rosell offered an excellent workshop on ethical uses of technology in the church. The official title was “Why Take Up an Offering When We Can Donate Online?” but the session covered several other topics of concern and possibility.
Rosell’s basic premises were that technology itself is morally neutral but its use is morally significant. He also pointed out that technocrats (those makers who become rulers) in the church are dangerous and that technocracy in the church can become a state of idolatry. His final premise was that “use of technology in the church need not lead us into sin . . . but take heed lest you fall.”
After presenting ten principles that inform our use of technology in the church (such as “protect people’s privacy” and “use God’s resources wisely”), Rosell went on to consider four “case problems” including one on the use of social networking technology that recognized potential problems when the medium is not used wisely.
Professor Rosell’s presentation was very helpful. I was reminded that church leaders who are not technologically savvy should not just give free rein to those who have a passion for the digital world. This may be opening a Pandora’s Box that will be difficult to close!
The workshop also reminded me that rational people seem to lack common sense when it comes to the virtual world. Why would I want to put on my Facebook wall or write in my blog that I am going to be out of town on vacation? Do I really want to advertise that my home will be unattended? Why do otherwise cautious people share intimate personal information just because someone asks for it online? Are these ethical questions or ones of good judgment?
Church leaders, professionals, and individuals need to do a personal audit of their use of social networking, web sites, and other Internet tools. Discussions like the one led by Dr. Rosell help us to exercise such due diligence.