Steve Jobs, Preacher of a Secular Gospel

Steve JobsFor the last few days I have been watching the reaction to the death of Steve Jobs. Some has been over the top. Some has been very funny. Some has been both, like this one I found on Facebook:

Three apples changed the world: Eve’s, Newton’s, and Steve Jobs’.

As I commented on Facebook:

As for Jobs’ Apple, well, its significance is really only on popular culture, and without him the company will struggle to keep ahead of the Far East.

On similar lines, I found very interesting an article Steve Jobs: The Secular Prophet, written by Andy Crouch, an editor at Christianity Today, and published in the Wall Street Journal. Thanks to John Meunier for the link.

Crouch explores the symbolism of the Apple logo with the missing bite, and sees in the technology it represents an attempt to reverse the curse of the Fall:

Steve Jobs was the evangelist of this particular kind of progress—and he was the perfect evangelist because he had no competing source of hope. He believed so sincerely in the “magical, revolutionary” promise of Apple precisely because he believed in no higher power.

Thus he presents Jobs as a preacher of “the gospel of a secular age”, one which brings only “cold comfort”,

But the genius of Steve Jobs was to persuade us, at least for a little while, that cold comfort is enough.

Crouch continues by contrasting the Apple pioneer with Martin Luther King, who, unlike Jobs, articulated a real hope for the future.

For people of a secular age, Steve Jobs’s gospel may seem like all the good news we need. But people of another age would have considered it a set of beautifully polished empty promises, notwithstanding all its magical results. …

Whatever the limits of Steve Jobs’s secular gospel, or for that matter of Dr. King’s Christian one, our keen sense of loss at his passing reminds us that the oxygen of human societies is hope. Steve Jobs kept hope alive. We will not soon see his like again. Let us hope that when we do, it is soon enough to help us deal with the troubles that this century, and every century, will bring.

This is how Crouch ends his thought-provoking essay. While I might have liked it to close with a clearer endorsement of King’s true Christian gospel rather than Jobs’ version, it is good to see such matters being discussed openly in a secular journal.

The atheistic Buddhism of Steve Jobs might offer the best that humanity can achieve without God. But that is at best a pale shadow of what men and women can enjoy if they follow Jesus, and allow him to lead them into receiving all the good things which God provides for his people. To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13:12, now we may see an image of reality in an iPhone, but then we shall see face to face.

6 thoughts on “Steve Jobs, Preacher of a Secular Gospel

  1. Kevin, that would have been amazing! But I’m sure it would have upset a lot of more conservative types. They wouldn’t have liked the way Jobs would surely have turned traditional church culture upside down. Anyway it’s too late now.

    But we can hope and pray that someone with similar gifts will arise in the church. Or maybe they already have. Rob Bell, perhaps? Or Brian McLaren? Hopefully not someone with the kind of anti-competitive corporate focus that Jobs had.

  2. Pingback: Steve Jobs did not change the world, Bill Gates might - Gentle Wisdom

  3. Kevin, I’m not sure about “more of them”. It only took one Steve Jobs to change his world. It only took one Martin Luther to reform the church in his time – and in fact a lot of today’s church problems go back to there being others who tried to compete with him. One real visionary, and others prepared to accept his or her vision, would be enough for a new Reformation.

  4. Pingback: Secular gospel | Alexanderludwi

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