When I paid for groceries today I whipped out my quick and easy debit card, inserted it into the chip reader, waited for the ding, then put my card back into my purse. Debit cards are great. I don’t have to carry around lots of cash and they help me keep track of purchases through my bank. But in 1985 when debit cards were a new thing, two Bible teachers/radio ministers were panicked by the thought of debit cards, cashless transactions, and computers in general. They were sure that computers would provide everything the Antichrist and the beasts of Revelation 13 would need to usher in the end times.
Armed with their doom and gloom predictions and tons of computer related magazine articles, these two Bible teachers wrote Computers and the Beast of Revelation. I found a copy of the book in a bin of free books outside of a used book store. For some reason the used book store did not want to sell it (LOL).
Here are some of the predictions from 1985 about how computers would change our world and equip the Antichrist and/or the beast of Revelation 13:
- A 1984 article in U.S. News and World Report said that there would be a phone in every pocket and a computer in every home. It said that a “standard telephone console would be the only computer terminal most people will need.” Yup. This has mostly come true although for many people the phone in their pocket is the computer they use most.
- “Combining laser optics and computers, three-dimensional holographic images will bring TV features into living rooms with almost lifelike quality.” Think: Obi-Wan, you’re our only hope! The authors are sure this is how the beast in Revelation 13 is going to set up an image for everyone to worship.
- “Cars will have not just telephones as standard issue, but also satellite navigation systems that pinpoint a vehicle’s location and guide the driver to his destination.” Yup. This one we’ve got. Without it I would still be getting lost all the time. Even with it I get lost sometimes.
- “Automatic translation devices will translate from English to Japanese in MINUTES just by inputting text.” Google translate can do this in seconds.
- Other articles quoted from the book warn of electronic banking that can send money instantly. This would make a one world economy possible which would give the Antichrist opportunity to be the ruler of the entire world like he is predicted to be.
- The book also predicts lifelike robots that people would become relationally attached to and possibly even want to marry. And what does robot marriage do for God’s definition of marriage? (Ummm…this prediction was a little weird…)
- Other articles also mention a new thing called debit cards that assign you a number for your banking transactions. The authors say this is one step closer to the mark of the beast from Revelation 13 where you must have a number that relates to the beast in order to buy or sell.
Reading the predictions was the fun part of the book. It was like time traveling to see the world through the lens of 1985 and read how some people felt about up and coming computer technology.
But the thrust of the book is doom and gloom poised to panic readers. The authors used the panic they created to try and share the gospel message. Almost every chapter ends with a sentence like: “see what computers will enable the Antichrist or the beast to do! The end it coming! Repent! Repent!”
To some extent that is the appropriate message to share when talking about Revelation. There are parts that sound scary and strange. But the truth is that if you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you will be with Jesus. The scary and strange parts are not aimed at you. There is comfort and hope in being a believer in Jesus Christ. Reading about the judgement that is to come should give us urgency to share Christ with those who don’t know Him!
But what these glass-half-empty authors failed to do is apply their imaginations towards what good computers and debit cards and cashless banking could do for spreading the gospel. Computers speed the process of Bible translation. They enable the gospel to spread through quick communication. Debit cards and online giving make it possible for Christians to give to any ministry around the world instantly so that Christian ministries have the resources they need to share Christ.
Andy Crouch in his book The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place points out that technology is a broad term that includes not just computer technology, but all technology like the wheel, electric lights, cars, etc. Technology is a tool. It is not evil or good in and of itself. But all technology could be used for good or used for evil. Computers can be used for evil by the Antichrist and the beasts of Revelation 13, but they also can be used for good.
We do not need to live paralyzed by fear of computers or fear of what the end times will look like. Will the image that the beast of Revelation 13 sets up be made possible by computers? Maybe. But I will not fear computers. No computer is more powerful then Jesus my Savior. What I will do is use computers as a tool to share the gospel and make disciples.
How do you use computers as a tool in your Christian life? Comment below!
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