Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: The Next Story

"Discernment is not  a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right." -- Charles Spurgeon

Honestly, I wasn't really interested in reading a book about technology. However, technology is a huge part of my husband's life (as an IT specialist), so he asked me to order The Next Story after watching the book trailer. While I wasn't interested in the subject matter, I absolutely love reading books with others and discussing the ideas therein, especially with the love of my life. Since it was important to him, I decided to seize the opportunity and read along. I am so glad that I did!

The Next Story is an important book for all of us who are living in the world but not seeking to be of the world. As Christians, we should use technology in a decidedly different manner than those who are not living for the glory of God. Challies asks, "How has the digital explosion reshaped our understanding of ourselves, our world, and, most importantly, our knowledge of God?" (pg. 12).

He writes: "...every technology brings with it both risk and opportunity" (pg. 36). We must realize that technology, like all other created things, "is prone to draw your heart away from God, to distract you and enable you to rely on your own abilities rather than trusting God" (pg. 24). However, "it is not the technology itself that is good or evil; it is the human application of that technology" (pg. 25).

Challies wisely realizes that "...for most of us, avoidance [of technology] is not an option, nor is it necessarily the most biblical, God-honoring response...Our task, then, is not to avoid technology but to carefully evaluate it, redeem it, and ensure that we are using it with the right motives and for the right goals" (pg. 32). He writes: "We need to seek to understand how a technology will change and shape us before we introduce it to our lives" (pg. 61). It will change the way that we think with regard to content (what we think) and process (how we think).

Challies raises a lot of great questions; some of which he answers, while others are left for the reader to answer as a means of personal application. This isn't a book that legalistically dictates when you can use technology, for how much time, etc...though Challies does recommend that the reader set boundaries.

The Next Story deals with many practical issues including communication, distraction, thinking, and idolatry, all the while encouraging the reader to examine his/her heart and teaching how to apply the Gospel. Although Challies examines each of these topics (and others) specifically with regard to digital technology, the content of this book could easily be applied more broadly and is relevant to us all.

All in all, this book is an interesting and thought-provoking title and an excellent choice for those wishing to think Biblically about technology and living life to the glory of God. Highly recommended!

*Many thanks to Zondervan for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!


Andrew R said...

Thanks for writing this review! I'm glad you took a chance on this book.

I wonder do you and your husband have technology boundaries? What are they? I ask because I'm thinking through setting boundaries too, and since your husband is in IT, and since you're a blogger, I'd be interested to hear about yours.
Thanks again!

Melissa said...

I have this on my nightstand. Now I'm really looking forward to reading it!