Redeeming Technology: A Christian Approach to Healthy Digital Habits

Title of Work:

Redeeming Technology: A Christian Approach to Healthy Digital Habits

Author of Work:

A. Trevor Sutton & Brian Smith


Pastor Evan Chartrand

Page Number:


Format Availability:

Paperback, Kindle



Eleven hours. That is how much digital media—think computers, televisions, and smartphones—the average American consumes each day. That adds up to 167 full 24-hour days using digital technology each year. That’s more time than we spend sleeping! So how do you, pastor, stack up? I’m guessing you aren’t far off that average (a quick count reveals I am much closer to eleven hours than I initially thought). How about your people? Whether they hit the eleven hour mark or not, they are certainly consuming a lot of media and are using quite a bit of technology. It’s worthwhile to consider the spiritual ramifications of such heavy technology use and media consumption. A. Trevor Sutton and Brian Smith set out to do just that in their book, Redeeming Technology 

Redeeming Technology specifically focuses on the Christian’s relationship with digital technology, making the case that digital technology by itself is not bad, but the way we use it might be. The overwhelming amount of time we spend using technology and the gargantuan servings of digital media we consume leads to problems (18). Sutton and Smith overview the well-documented negative impacts of screen time on physical, mental, and emotional health. They highlight how heavy technology use means sacrificing things like “face-to-face conversations, physical contact, exercise, family time, spiritual practices, and sleep” (21)all things God created us to do and enjoy. Spending so much time with digital technology, they argue, leads to missing out on many of God’s blessings, to being a slave to technology, and sometimes to making technology your idol.  

The authors highlight how excessive use of digital technology can impact your mental health, especially if you log lots of hours on social media (52). Social media in particular leads to compulsive behaviors such as constantly checking your phone, email, or social media accounts. These compulsive behaviors draw your attention away from godly pursuits and often lead to less-than-sanctified lives. Another significant issue with technology is that it has the power to reshape minds and souls. Technology and media can change the way we think, our sense of morality, and our core beliefs. If you’ve ever seen your member posting less-than-biblical stances online, you’ve seen how technology opens people up to unchristian, non-biblical worldviews. In this sense, technology can change you, but not improve you (75). Furthermore, technology often serves as a revolving door to temptation. With smartphones and computers, it’s easy to access sinful content any time you want. Sutton and Smith even state that “technology is designed for sin” (94), as it tends to bring out the worst in people, such as envy, pride, greed, and lust. The most dangerous part of technology is that it is like the proverbial frog in boiling water. You don’t notice how the incremental changes add up to a major change until it’s almost too late.  

Technology has its issues. But Sutton and Smith do not merely bemoan the situation. Instead, they argue that we must redeem technology, which they define in this way: “redeeming technology means reclaiming a right relationship with it… establishing healthier habits of technology use and media consumption… using it with purpose to glorify God and to serve our neighbor” (22). The key to redeeming technology is to have the true Redeemer, Jesus Christ, at the center of your life. Are you struggling with easy access to temptation via technology? Run to Christ for forgiveness and find in him the strength to resist temptations and flee from sin (98ff). Do you find yourself infected with unchristian thinking? Sutton and Smith show you how to put down the phone, turn off the computer, and imitate Christ (178).  


There are some knots in this book. At times, it is hard to understand the specific aspect of technology being discussed. For example, they discuss cognitive distortions and the issue of letting others think for us (150ff). At first glance, these ideas do not seem to fit the book’s purpose of helping people redeem technology and keep Christ at the center of your life. It takes a second or third read to understand the line of thinking. Additionally, the progression of thought from chapter to chapter is tough to track. That is understandable, since technology is such an expansive topic. If you read one chapter at a time, this somewhat jolted flow of thought isn’t noticeable. If you read the book in longer sittings, the bumpy flow of thought is more evident.  

Sutton and Smith set out to show us how to redeem technology. The implication is that technology is something negative and needs to be redeemed. But do the pitfalls of technology mean it is automatically a bad thing or something to be avoided? I am not convinced that is the case. There are plenty of blessings technology brings, such as helping people stay connected to friends and family, bringing livestreamed Lutheran worship services to people who cannot make it to church, and providing medical advice on demand via telehealth appointments. To be fair, Sutton and Smith do mention several of technology’s positives, but these come toward the end of the book and get a good deal less treatment than the negatives. I suppose this is expected in a work about redeeming technology, but on the whole the book positions technology more as a problem than a blessing.  

So, do Sutton and Smith accomplish their goal? Do they help their readers redeem technology? I think so. They lay out the theoretical side of redeeming technology, such as why technology needs to be redeemed and how Christ is the only way to truly redeem technology. They also get practical at the end of each chapter with their “Do this, not that” sections. The practical tips are helpful—so helpful that I was hoping for more of them. While it’s necessary to lay out why we need to redeem technology, the how to redeem technology is just as important. The “why” definitely gets more ink than the “how” in this book. 

Should you read this book? My answer is “yes.” With technology playing such a large role in our lives and in the lives of our people, it is wise to think through the spiritual ramifications of heavy technology use. Redeeming Technology provides a springboard into that conversation. While laying the theological and theoretical framework for why technology needs redemption, this book also provides helpful, practical pointers for pastors and their people. As a bonus, Sutton is a Missoury Synod pastor, so he brings a confessional Lutheran viewpoint to this tangled topic. Redeeming Technology is a quick and affordable read. It’s worth your time to thoroughly think through how you and your people can avoid the downsides of technology, correct any misuses of technology, and use technology for good and godly purposes.