Volume 48 - Issue 2

Technology and Its Fruits: Digital Technology’s Imago Dei Deformation and Sabbath as Re-Formation

By Josh Rothschild


The serpent promised that the fruit in the garden would make Adam and Eve more like God. While the fruit reduced the capability gap between God and humanity, it widened the character gap. This article aims to demonstrate that digital technology parallels the fruit in both its promise to grant us God-like abilities while also deforming God’s character in us. I use current psychological and sociological research to demonstrate that high digital technology use steadily deforms God’s character in humanity. I conclude by suggesting that weekly Sabbath practice counters this deforming technological pressure and creates space for God to re-form his image in us.

“Take the fruit, and you will be like God,” the serpent whispers in Eve’s ear. The reality was that Eve was already like God; humans uniquely reflect and represent God’s image. And though Adam and Eve were created like God, this was not enough. A desire to extend the boundaries of their God-likeness consumed them, leading them to bite the fruit that the serpent promised would make them even more like God. The irony is that the serpent was both telling the truth and a lie. The fruit opened Adam and Eve’s eyes, allowing them to access knowledge that previously only God held—and yet taking the fruit on their own terms twisted the image in them, making them less like God than before.

The information age’s digital revolution parallels the serpent’s deceptive promises in the garden.1 With just a few keystrokes, Google allows anyone to access almost any knowledge known to man. Alexa enables us to illuminate our homes with just a word. Social media grants us the ability to be present to everyone all the time. And now with the proliferation of ChatGPT and other AI applications, the upper limits of human productivity have never been so high. One might even say technology makes us gods.2 These abilities are doubtlessly used for pure ends, but might these expanded abilities be similar to the serpent’s god-like temptation in the garden? Do these technologies simultaneously reduce the gap between God’s abilities and our own while also widening the gap between God’s character and our own? Like Adam and Eve, the irony of technology is that in becoming more like God, his image is becoming less clear in us. God desires we resemble him, but we desire to rival God.3 And just like Adam and Eve couldn’t undo the bite they had taken, the technological genie has left the bottle. Is it wrong for a surgeon to consult a global medical community for wisdom on treating a patient with a rare disease? Is it wrong to use FaceTime to maintain connection with elderly shut-ins during a pandemic?4

This article aims to demonstrate that the digital revolution allows us to act more like God and yet has a steady deforming pressure that moves our character away from God’s. Like a car in drive on level pavement, creeping forward unless proactively and thoughtfully impeded, digital technology steadily bends our character away from God in our unconscious and uncritical use of it. To proactively fight against digital technology’s deforming pressure, I argue that observing the ancient practice of the Sabbath both counteracts the lie that we can ever truly rival God’s power while also providing the ingredients and space for God’s character to be deeply formed in us. Thus, the Sabbath allows us to use our digital tools with humility and wisdom and keep us in the position of masters over our tools rather than our tools mastering us.

My argument unfolds in three broad sections. In the first section, I unpack the assertion that the fruit in the garden came from a temptation to make Adam and Eve more like God on their own terms. Additionally, I trace the plot line of God restoring and forming his image in his people despite its distortion in the garden. In the second section, I demonstrate how digital technology parallels the temptation to inch closer to God’s power while practically deforming his character in us. The final section explores how the practice of Sabbath observance offers us space to cooperate with God’s forming his character in us while also causing us to delight in the reality that God’s incommunicable attributes are utterly foreign.

1. Imago Dei in Humanity

This section first explores the imago Dei from a biblical-theological lens, demonstrating that it was always God’s desire for mankind to be like God in significant and unique ways. This “likeness” was distorted by Adam and Eve’s discontent with the boundaries of this likeness. Yet, God remains committed to this imago Dei vision of humanity despite the damage that had been done. In unpacking this trajectory, I examine four movements: (1) God desired humanity to reflect him; (2) the serpent promised greater godlikeness on their own terms; (3) the result of listening to the serpent was becoming less like God; and (4) God is redeeming his image in his people, and the fruit of the Spirit is one of the clearest examples of this in the New Testament.

1.1. Godlikeness Granted

The serpent’s deception is that God was never threatened by Adam and Eve (Gen 3:6). The Creator always intended for Adam and Eve to resemble him, but by striving to become more like God, the two humans became less like him. Genesis teaches that humanity is unique from all other creation in that they alone are created in God’s image.5 This is no accident; God chooses under no compulsion or fear of competition to form humanity in His image (Gen 1:27). Each of the previous creatures is made “according to its own kind” (Gen 2:11–12; 21, 24–25), but only Adam and Eve are created “in [God’s] image” (Gen 2:26–27).6 To be image-bearers means humanity both reflects God and represents God.7 In reflecting God, we ought to see a similarity to God when we look at humanity. In representing God, we ought to function similarly to God in his place.8 Unlike any other creature, God wanted Adam and Eve to be like him. So what exactly did it mean for Adam and Eve to reflect and represent God?

This question must be answered with humility as the text does not explicitly give us an answer.9 Theologians throughout church history have provided varying, sometimes contradictory, answers on what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God.10 Though absolute agreement is allusive, many see the image Dei reflected in man’s character.11 This may not be directly evident in the creation passage, but John Calvin argued that only in reading ahead to the New Testament could one fully understand the imago Dei of Genesis 2.12 In other words, only by looking at how the image is restored in believers through the Spirit and displayed in Christ can we fully understand how Adam and Eve imaged God in the garden.

1.2. Greater Godlikeness Tempted

Genesis 3 details the moment Adam and Eve first sinned against God and were thus expelled from God’s presence in the garden. The serpent’s deception finds its strength in enflaming Eve’s pride; his half-truths extend the possibility of divinity by offering the possibility that Adam and Eve could truly achieve equality with God’s divine glory.13 And who wouldn’t want this glory? Who wouldn’t want the happiness that comes from divine knowledge?14 And thus, the serpent suggests that the Creator is not the type of God he lets on. Adam and Eve’s limitations must come from a place of fear that Adam and Eve would become like him15 because he must be the type of God who withholds what is truly good.16

The tragic irony is that Adam and Eve were already “like God; they had been created in his image.”17 More than that, God had filled the earth with all kinds of good things (Gen 1:3, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31; 2:9), and he remedied the only thing that was lacking by blessing Adam with a wife (Gen 2:18). This insidiousness of the lie, however, is not found in its false premises but rather in the complete inverse of its result. Instead of the knowledge moving them closer to God’s equal, it creates a greater division between humankind and their Creator.18

1.3. Godlikeness Diminished

The type of knowledge that promised to make Adam and Eve like God ended up making them less like him. It undid part of the miracle of bearing God’s image. The image was not lost completely19 but diminished. Augustine writes, though they desire to be like gods:

in fact, they would have been better able to be like gods if they had in obedience adhered to the supreme and real ground of their being, if they had not in pride and made themselves their own ground…. By aiming at more, a man is diminished, when he elects to be self-sufficient and defects from the one who is really sufficient for him.20

Reformer Wolfgang Musculus agrees with Augustine: “Satan promised divinity if they would eat of the forbidden tree’s fruit. They ate, and they were so far from acquiring the glory of divinity that they became more like vile and subhuman beasts than like God.”21 Here we see a crucial insight into the nature of Adam and Eve’s sin. Pride promises to make us more like God but always does the opposite. Pride pledges to bridge the gap to God’s abilities but always ends in greater separation from him. Pride first manifested itself in taking the fruit in the garden, but every human has made the same choice: our prideful desires remain discontent merely bearing God’s image rather than being self-sufficient, all-knowing, and all-powerful.

1.4. The Image’s Redemption

Though sin had deformed and distorted God’s image in humanity, God had not given up on his original intentions. Though this meta-theme is sweeping in scope, for the parameters of this paper, I focus on only two aspects: Jesus as the perfect image of God and the Spirit’s role in redeeming the image in us.

1.4.1. Christ, the True Image

The New Testament presents a portrait of Jesus as both fully human and fully divine, which the Nicene Creed summarizes.22 By implication of Jesus’s divinity, he lives a perfect, sinless life.23 This means that when we read about Jesus, we see both a portrait of what God is like, and we also see what a human, unstained by sin, is supposed to be like. Jesus, therefore, is the perfect image of God, the one by whom we compare all other claims of what it means to be like God and become more like God as a human.24

1.4.2. Formation of Christlikeness

There are many places in the Bible we can look for a catalog of Christ-like character qualities, though none may be as famous as Galatians 5:22–26, where Paul lists nine character qualities: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is not a list of do’s and don’ts of the Christian life but rather the Spirit forming the Christian’s character to resemble Christ’s.25 This is the character manifestation of what Paul, a chapter earlier, says is “Christ [being] formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Where Adam and Eve took the fruit to become more like God on their own terms, the Spirit produces the fruit that makes us more like Christ, the perfect image of God.

2. The Deforming Power of Digital Technology

Thus far, we have established that the harder humanity strives to become more like God on their own terms, the less like God they become. Conversely, the more they submit to the Lord’s will, the more they are transformed into his image. We should not be surprised when our prideful hearts utilize tools for the same end. If Adam and Eve took the fruit to become equal with God, we should expect modern man’s same tendency to utilize digital technology to the same end. In this section, we first explore how the promise of digital technology mirrors the temptation of the garden, followed by how this may likewise prove to be our character’s undoing.

2.1. Digital Technology’s Divine Promise

The concept that technology can turn humans into gods is not new, though it may not have been present at such a large-scale popular level as Yuval Harari’s 2017 New York Times bestselling Homo Deus. In over 400 pages, Harari predicts that the gurus of Silicon Valley will serve as prophets and priests in transforming humans from Homo sapiens into Homo deus through technological advancement.26 These future technologies will allow vastly increased mental processing power that transcends our current comprehension. Our new divine state allows us to know everything, do anything, achieve constant bliss, and even have eternal life. “You could buy for yourself the strength of Hercules, the sensuality of Aphrodite, the wisdom of Athena, or the madness of Dionysus.”27 Harari views death as a technical problem with technological solutions: “We don’t need to wait for the Second Coming in order to overcome death. A couple of geeks in a lab can do it. If traditional death was the specialty of priests and theologians, now the engineers are taking over.”28

Harari represents a growing number of scientists, mathematicians, and computer engineers who believe technology will be humanity’s salvation.29 But the technological dream is not simply salvation, but glorification into God-like beings whose abilities are enhanced to rival any other god. Might this godlike promise come with the same strings attached as the fruit in the garden? If, in our pursuit of God-like ability, do we actually become less like Jesus and more like extremely powerful beasts?

2.2. Digital Technology’s Deforming Power

Research is becoming increasingly clear that we not only act on the world with our technology, but our technology ends up acting on us. Technology is never neutral,30 and when we use our tools, in the end, our tools act upon us.31 Before we consider how digital technology shapes our character, it must be acknowledged that it alters our brains’ physiology. Because of our neuroplasticity, digital technology is “so effective at altering the nervous system because they both work in similar ways and are basically compatible and easily linked.”32

When Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit to become like God, the result was that they were deformed away from his likeness. If, as we saw in the previous section, technology holds out a similar promise to make us more like the divine, might there be a similar consequence for our prideful ambitions?

This section explores how technology has the power to distort and deform the image of God in our character. Galatians 5:22–23 represents eight dimensions of how God’s character manifests in humanity. I present research that suggests that digital technology does indeed have the capacity to deform the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Some inverse character categories and the corresponding research are more easily clustered together. Therefore, this section is not intended to make a theological argument on what the opposite of each of the fruits is; rather, it is intended to give a general picture of research demonstrating how digital technology accelerates our character deformation.

2.2.1. Deformed Love and Kindness: Polarization, Anger, and Outrage

God’s love and kindness are displayed through his disposition and actions towards sinful man.33 There seems to be an attitude of warmth and compassion towards the “other” implicit in God’s love and kindness. But digital media and social media’s algorithms neither favor kind content nor form love in our souls.

During a 2021 Senate hearing on social media algorithms, a former Google design ethicist stated, “[Google’s] business model is to create a society that is addicted, outraged, polarized, performative, and disinformed.”34 Facebook has also been called “one of the world’s most polarizing corporations,” whose “business model is optimized to keep people scrolling their Facebook feeds, amplifying divisive and inflammatory content and exaggerating political divisions in society.”35 The has contributed to the polarization of the United States marked by less trust and reduced democratic norms.36 Our moral outrage is stoked,37 and we’ve become more rude38 and angry.39 In all this, digital media’s coverage of these phenomena creates an ecosystem where trolling, conspiracy theories, and antagonism can flourish.40

The websites we use and the media we consume every day have the capacity to deform our kindness and love and generate the fruit of polarization, anger, and outrage.

2.2.2. Deformed Joy and Peace: Depression and Anxiety

Numerous studies have connected high digital technology use with the manifestation of depression and anxiety. Rates of unhappiness, depression, and suicide are strongly tied to high digital technology use.41 High internet use is also linked with insomnia, stress, and low self-esteem.42 One study found that high internet use during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the exposure to misinformation that came with it, was a significant cause of depression.43 Expansive evidence exists in the literature that social media use is correlated with anxiety44 and contributes to the fear of missing out.45

Digital technology can benefit its users, but left unchecked, it can rob us of joy and form us into anxious and empty people.

2.2.3. Deformed Patience: Impatience and Compulsion

We can all remember the impatience rising in our chest as we heard the modem beeps while AOL loaded at a snail’s pace in the early 2000s. One might expect that, with computing and internet speed lightyears from where they started, impatience would never have the chance to well up inside us, yet we find the opposite.46 This increased impatience expresses itself in using cell phones to “provide for [our] needs as soon as possible” which can result in increased irritability and financial difficulties.47

The root of our impatience may be linked with deeper neurological changes facilitated by increased digital media consumption. Microsoft found that between 2000 and 2013, human attention span had dwindled from twelve seconds to eight seconds (as a reference, the attention span of a goldfish is nine seconds).48 “The division of attention demanded by the internet strains our cognitive abilities and diminishes our learning and understanding.”49

If God is characterized as patient, longsuffering, and committed for the long haul, the instant gratification and distraction of digital media distort this aspect of God’s image in us at a neurological level.

2.2.4. Deformed Gentleness: Violence

If God’s gentleness towards his image-bearers is marked by dealing with us in a way that does not bring harm, then the opposite manifestation in human character would be violence or intentionally trying to harm someone. Emotional violence in the form of cyberbullying is one way this manifests itself in digital media users. Increased internet use results in increased moral disengagement (which the following section discusses more), increasing the likelihood of cyberbullying.50

But this online aggression can spill over to real-world violence. A Public Religion Research Institute poll found that 15% of Americans (or 50 million people) believe that “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”51 This fruit is directly connected to the same technological root from which deformed love and kindness grow, as referenced above. Online forums contributed to the radicalization of domestic terrorists such as Dylan Roof52 and Payton Gendron.53 Sharon Martinez, a former white-power skinhead who now works for Free Radicals Project, a group that helps individuals leave extremist groups, notes, “there’s a lot of romanticization of violence among the far-right online, and there aren’t consequences to that …. In the physical world, if you’re standing in front of someone and you say something abhorrent, there’s a chance they’ll punch you. Online, you don’t have that, and you escalate into further physical violence without a threat to yourself.”54

Not everyone who uses the internet will commit acts of violence, but the animosity it creates pulls people in that direction and creates safe havens for violent fantasies to fester.

2.2.5. Deformed Goodness and Faithfulness: Moral Ambiguity

There are several ways the inverse of goodness and faithfulness might be categorized, but I have chosen to put them in the same category and call the inverse “moral ambiguity.” If goodness is concerned with knowing and loving what is true and good, then faithfulness is acting in accord with what is true and good.

Many of the previous categories overlap with this section. The anger, hostility, and violence directed at fellow image-bearers are anything but good and faithful. Additionally, moral disengagement is defined as “a cognitive predisposition that individuals reinterpret their immoral behaviors” and has been linked with compulsive internet use55 and violent video game use.56 Online anonymity and the perceived lack of consequence create an atmosphere that facilitates disinhibition and cyber aggression.57

Just like the formation of every other bad fruit, digital technology use does not automatically distort one’s sense of goodness and faithfulness to these moral standards, but it does provide the environment where the dark desires of the heart can bloom.

2.2.6. Deformed Self Control: Addiction

If God never makes a rash decision, speaks anything he will later regret, or takes any action outside of his control, then humans reflect this aspect of God through manifesting self-control. The final bad fruit of digital technology is addiction: the inability to control its use or consumption. Uninhibited technological use takes control out of our hands and begins controlling us.

Why is this so addictive? Kaitlin Wooley of Cornell University and Marissa Sharif of the University of Pennsylvania have researched why social media is so enticing and found that it is because

they offer bite-sized content that makes it easy to quickly consume several videos or posts in a row, they often automatically suggest similar content, and many of them even automatically start playing similar videos, reducing the potential for interruptions.… The accessibility of this media is exactly what makes it so hard for users to break free from the rabbit hole and get back to whatever they were working on.58

The dark reality is that addiction is a feature, not a bug: “tech companies encourage behavioral addiction [through] intermittent positive reinforcement and the drive for social approval”59 and actively develop and deploy addictive features to enslave people to their devices to increase their bottom line.60 “Many Internet companies are learning what the tobacco industry has long known—addiction is good for business.”61 And once addiction has been formed, breaking the habits can be extremely difficult. Quitting the internet causes withdrawal effects “similar to those noted after termination of many depressant substances such as alcohol, cannabis, and opiate-based drugs.”62

2.3. Summary of Digital Technology’s Deforming Power

The deforming power of digital technology has been demonstrated by study after study. It is important to note that digital technology can deform us, but this is not automatic. In conjunction with the psychological effects of long-term digital technology use, our fallen desires can bend us inwards, just like Adam and Eve. The question becomes whether or not we should avoid digital technology altogether, and if not, how we might set boundaries to ensure we master our tools, not the other way around.

3. Sabbath as Re-Formation

In a world constantly connected to digital technology, what hope do we have to swim against its deforming current? “There is a silver lining in the way technology has clouded our lives with nonstop toil and leisure—it gives us an amazingly simple way to bring everything to a beautiful halt. We can turn our devices off.”63 In this final section, I propose that the ancient practice of weekly Sabbath observance is an excellent way to fight against the deforming power of digital technology and cultivate Christlikeness in us.

3.1. What Is the Sabbath?

The charge to remember the Sabbath and keep this special day holy is the fourth of the Ten Commandments,64 where Israel observed a full day of rest (from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday). Sabbath observance was expected through the time of Jesus65 and was continued by the early church. “The church in the early, medieval, reformation, post-reformation, and modern eras contains prominent leaders who either (1) teach explicitly that God’s creation-week rest is normative, or (2) teach in a way that would not contradict such an interpretation.”66 Evangelicals have various convictions regarding Sabbath observance, ranging from viewing the fourth commandment as morally binding to new covenant Christians no longer needing to observe the Sabbath.67 The purpose of this concluding section is not to venture into the fray of the Sabbatarian debate. I do not argue that believers must observe the Sabbath but rather that they should observe it because of the wisdom and benefits it gives. That is, modern Sabbath observance is a re-formational practice68 that both creates space for the renewal of the imago Dei and counteracts the deformative impacts of digital technology.

3.2. Disconnect: Turning Off Our Screens

When we practice the Sabbath and thus turn off our screens, close our laptops, and put away our smartphones for a full day every week, we create a healthy distance between us and the ever-present digital world. By turning away from digital technology, “the Sabbath invites us to a healthy posture of criticism towards normative technologies.”69 When we unplug, we remember that the good life is not contingent on constant connectivity. We create a rhythm that buffers our families and detoxes our souls from the deformative pressure of digital technology.

Digital technology’s temptation to make us more like God is laid bare for what they are. Like our parents in the garden, our insatiable need for knowledge is made to wait as the “Sabbath questions our commitment to information as a means to salvation.”70 The Sabbath forces us to accept the reality of our creatureliness; we are finite, bound by space and time, limited in our abilities, and dependent on our Creator for provision. Until we turn off the white noise of technology and sit in Sabbath silence, we will find it difficult to fully know these sacred realities.

3.3. Disconnect to Connect; Connect to be Renewed

Removing digital technology once a week may be good, but if that is all it is, it is merely slowing the inevitable. But the Sabbath promises more than mere retreat—it extends the possibility of renewal:

Sabbath disconnects our technologies so that we might reconnect to our Creator. “Being connected” is not a metaphor new to our technological society—Jesus utilized the metaphor quite powerfully. In John 15 he says we are to be “connected” to the vine.… In our technological society, being connected to the internet often distracts us from opportune times to be connected to Christ in relationship. We surround ourselves with devices that help us connect with other people and websites anywhere and at any time. We keep up with the Kardashians better than we do the Holy Spirit.71

And thus, by creating space away from digital technology, we create space to connect to Christ in deeper, less distracted ways.

Just as the deformation away from God’s image through the effects of digital technology is empirically recognizable, so also is the renewal facilitated by the Sabbath:

Spiritual and psychological growth are enhanced when people have the freedom of time and space to be open and receptive to the healing, loving presence of the Spirit. As a regular, weekly time involving 24 hours of rest and renewal, the practice of Sabbath-keeping provides them with this necessary time for entering the important mode of disengagement.72

Additionally, Sabbath-keeping has been demonstrated to benefit us through “(1) enhanced self-awareness, (2) improved self-care, (3) enriched relationships, (4) developed spirituality, (5) [and it] positively affected the rest of [our] weeks.”73 In another study, “Sabbath-keeping was strongly significantly related to better spiritual well-being of both … experiencing the presence and power of God in daily life as well as feeling the presence and power of God in ministry.”74

4. Conclusion

The serpent tempted Adam and Eve to become more like God on their own terms, yet this tragically resulted in them becoming less like God. Digital technology extends a similar promise to make humans more like God on their terms and has a deforming effect on our minds, bodies, and souls. Weekly Sabbath observance is a re-formational practice that not only creates distance between us and the deforming power of digital technology but also creates the possibility of renewal through undistracted connection to Christ through the Spirit.

[1] The parallel that this article follows was inspired by Jonathan Haidt, “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid,” The Atlantic, May 2022,

[2] This is the argument of Yuval N. Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (New York: Harper Collins, 2017). This article expands on Harari’s argument below.

[3] Jen Wilkins, None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing) (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 23.

[4] Tony Reinke traces a similar theme from Genesis 4: God has providentially ordained men to launch new technologies that would be used as great blessing for humanity, yet they would remain under the curse and have the potential to be used for great evil. Tony Reinke, God, Technology, and the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022), 73, 88–94.

[5] Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 11.

[6] John H. Sailhamer, “Genesis,” in Genesis–Leviticus, revised ed., EBC 1 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 69.

[7] Hoekema, Created in God’s Image, 67.

[8] Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants, 2nd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 235.

[9] Kenneth Mathews, Genesis 1–11:26, NAC 1A (Nashville: B&H, 1996), 164.

[10] John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, trans. John King, reprint ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1984), 93.

[11] Adam and Eve’s reflection and representation include more than God’s character, though for the scope of this paper, we will limit our focus. Two other important and related categories are community and rulership. First, humans are like God in that they reflect and represent the eternal intra-Trinitarian community. The creation narrative places extra weight in the fact that humans are created distinct in gender (Sailhamer, “Genesis,” 69) which Barth prompts us to ponder how distinct genders becoming one may be true in the Creator (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, [Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1956], 195). Indeed, the poem in Genesis 1:27 hints that both men and women are needed to reflect God’s image (Mathews, Genesis 1:11–26, 164). and the commentary on marriage in Genesis 2:24 further showcases how marital unity amidst gender diversity provides a flesh and blood representation of the Trinity (Philip Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith [Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012], 37). An implication of God’s weaving the divine community into humanity’s reflection and representation of him is that “God can enter into personal relationships with him, speak to him, and make covenants with him” (Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, WBC 1 [Waco, TX: Word, 1987], 31). Therefore, one way that God intended humanity to be like himself was in the way we treat one another and pursue unity amidst their distinctiveness. A second way God designed humans to be like himself was in their role as rulers over his creation. Luther makes the case that mankind’s dominion is an essential component of the imago Dei (Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis 1–5, LW 1 [St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1958], 64). The verse following the Gen 1:27 imago Dei poem make this clear in the directive to rule. Both man and woman are created in the image of God, and as his representatives, they are granted the responsibility to rule over the terrestrial world (Gen 1:28; Ps 8:6–7) (Mathews, Genesis 1:11–26, 164).

[12] Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses, 94–95.

[13] Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses, 151.

[14] Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses, 151.

[15] Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses, 150.

[16] Johnannes Oecolampadius, quoted in John L. Thompson, Timothy George, and Scott. M. Mantesch, eds., Genesis 1–11, Reformation Commentary on Scripture 1 (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012), 119.

[17] Sailhamer, “Genesis,” 86.

[18] Sailhamer, “Genesis,” 86–87.

[19] This is contrary to some Protestant streams, most predominantly in the Wesleyan tradition. Melvin E. Dieter, “The Wesleyan Perspective,” in Five Views on Sanctification, ed. Stanley N. Gundry, Counterpoints (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 22.

[20] St. Augustine, City of God 14.13, trans. Henry Bettenson (London: Penguin, 2003), 573.

[21] Wolfgang Musculus, quoted in Thompson, George, and Mantesch, Genesis 1–11, 119.

[22] “For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary and was made human.” The Editors of the Encyclopedia of Britannica, “Nicene Creed,” Britannica, September 3, 2022,

[23] Hebrews 5:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

[24] Hebrews 1:3: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

[25] Christopher J. H. Wright, Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit: Growing in Christlikeness (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2017), 10.

[26] Harari, Homo Deus, 375.

[27] Harari, Homo Deus, 43.

[28] Harari, Homo Deus, 23.

[29] Harari, Homo Deus, 24e.

[30] Don Ihde, Technology and the Lifeworld: From Garden to Earth (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 76.

[31] François Osiurak, Jorand Navarro, and Emanuelle Reynaud, “How Our Cognition Shapes and Is Shaped by Technology: A Common Framework for Understanding Human Tool-Use Interactions in the Past, Present, and Future,” Frontiers in Psychology 9.293 (March 2018): 3,

[32] Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (New York: Penguin, 2007), 311. One simple example is how the internet has changed how we retain and recall information; instead of memorizing information, we now recall where we can access the information in the future. Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu, and Daniel M. Wegner, “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips,” Science 333 (July 2011): 776–78.

[33] Titus 3:4: “But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

[34] “Senate Hearing on Social Media Algorithms Full Transcript April 27,” April 27, 2021,

[35] Adam Satariano and Cecilia Kang, “British Political Veteran Steers Facebook’s Trump Decision,” The New York Times, 5 May 2021,

[36] Paul M. Barrett, Justin Hendrix, and J. Grant Sims, “Fueling the Fire: How Social Media Intensifies U.S. Political Polarization—And What Can Be Done About It,” NYU Stern Center for Business and Humans Rights, September 2021,

[37] William J. Brady, et al., “How Social Learning Amplifies Moral Outrage Expression in Online Social Networks,” Science Advances 7.33 (August 2021): 1–14.

[38] Natalie Wolchover, “What Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry?” Scientific America, 25 July 2012,

[39] Luke Munn, “Angry by Design: Toxic Communication and Technical Architectures,” Humanities and Social Sciences Communities 7.53 (July 2020): 1–11.

[40] Whitney Phillips, “The Oxygen of Amplification: Better Practices for Reporting Extremists, Antagonists, and Manipulators Online,” Data & Society Institute, May 2018,

[41] Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, “Media Use Is Linked to Lower Psychological Well-Being: Evidence from Three Datasets,” Psychiatric Quarterly 90 (2019): 311–31.

[42] C. M. Morrison and H. Gore, “The Relationship Between Excessive Internet Use and Depression: A Questionnaire-Based Study of 1,319 Young People and Adults,” Psychopathology 43 (2010): 121–26,; Farah Younes, et al., “Internet Addiction and Relationships with Insomnia, Anxiety, Depression, Stress and Self-Esteem in University Students: A Cross-Sectional Designed Study,” Plos One 11.9 (2016): 1–2,

[43] Bryan Andrián Priego-Parra, et al., “Anxiety, Depression, Attitudes, and Internet Addiction During the Initial Phase of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Epidemic: A Cross-Sectional Study in México,” medRxiv (2020): 3,

[44] Faazila Fathima, V. Vishnu Priya, R. Gayathri, “Social Media and Anxiety–A Survey,” Drug Intervention Today 12.9 (2019): 1841–44.

[45] Roz Boustead and Mal Flack, Moderated-Mediation Analysis of Problematic Social Networking Use: The Role of Anxious Attachment Orientation, Fear of Missing Out and Satisfaction with Life,” Addictive Behaviors 119 (August 2021),

[46] Elias Aboujaoude, “An Ugly Toll of Technology: Impatience and Forgetfulness,” The New York Times, June 6, 2010,

[47] Joël Billieux, Martial Van Der Linden, and Lucien Rochet, “The Role of Impulsivity in Actual and Problematic Use of the Mobile Phone,” Applied Cognitive Psychology 22 (January 2008): 1206.

[48] Microsoft, Attention Span: Customer Insights, Microsoft Canada (Spring 2015), 6,

[49] Mark Ellingsen, “Social Media and the Cost of Distraction: Neurobiological Perspectives on the Quality of Life,” Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 33 (2021): 45.

[50] Taylor R. Nocera, et al., “Moral Disengagement Mechanisms Predict Cyber Aggression among Emerging Adults,” Cyberpsychology 16.1 (2022): 1–17.

[51] Public Religion Research Institute, “Understanding QAnon’s Connection to American Politics, Religion, and Media Consumption,” last modified May 27, 2021,

[52] Mark Berman, “Prosecutors Say Dylann Roof ‘Self-Radicalized’ Online, Wrote Another Manifesto in Jail,” Washington Post, 22 August 2016,

[53] Shayan Sardarizadeh, “Buffalo Shooting: How Far-Right Killers Are Radicalised Online,” BBC, 17 May 2022,

[54] Rachel Hatzipanagos, “How Online Hate Turns into Real-Life Violence,” The Washington Post, 30 November 2018,

[55] Alexandra Maftei, Andrei-Corneliu Holman, and Ioan-Alex Merlici, “Using Fake News as Means of Cyber-Bullying: The Link with Compulsive Internet Use and Online Moral Disengagement,” Computers in Human Behavior 127 (2022),

[56] Mengyun et. al, “Violent Video Games,” 663.

[57] Michelle F. Wright, “The Relationship between Young Adults’ Beliefs about Anonymity and Subsequent Cyber Aggression,” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 16 (2013): 858–62; Michelle F. Wright, “Predictors of Anonymous Cyber Aggression: The Role of Adolescents’ Beliefs about Anonymity, Aggression, and the Permanency of Digital Content,” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 17 (2014): 431–38.

[58] Kaitlin Woolley and Marissa A. Sharif, “The Psychology of Your Scrolling Addiction,” Harvard Business Review, 31 January 2022,

[59] Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (New York: Portfolio, 2019), 17.

[60] Hilary Andersson, “Social Media Apps Are ‘Deliberately’ Addictive to Users,” BBC, 4 July 2018,

[61] Bill Davidow, “Exploiting the Neuroscience of Internet Addiction,” The Atlantic, 18 July 2012,

[62] Phil Reed et. al, “Differential Physiological Changes Following Internet Exposure in Higher and Lower Problematic Internet Users,” Plos One (2017): 1–11.

[63] Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017), 94.

[64] The Sabbath is commanded in Exod 20:8–11 and Deut 5:12–15, though with slight variation in the grounds for Sabbath observance. The Exodus passage is based on following God’s work/rest pattern in creation while the Deuteronomy commandment cites Israel’s redemption from Egypt as the motivation. Israel was also instructed to observe the Sabbath before they received the Ten Commandments as they were to collect manna for six days and rest on the seventh (Exod 16).

[65] Though Sabbath observance was normative, Israel often failed to obey the fourth commandment, which the prophets spoke out against (e.g., see Isa 58:13–14).

[66] Jon English Lee, “There Remains a Sabbath Rest for the People of God: A Biblical, Theological, and Historical Defense of Sabbath Rest as a Creation Ordinance” (PhD diss., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2018), 6–7.

[67] Christopher John Donato, ed., Perspectives on the Sabbath: 4 Views (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011).

[68] I got this phrase from Melissa Davis, “Sabbath as a Counter-Formational Practice in a Culture of Busyness,” JETS 64 (2021): 563–81.

[69] A. J. Swoboda, Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2018), 91.

[70] Swoboda, Subversive Sabbath, 98.

[71] Swoboda, Subversive Sabbath, 99.

[72] Joyce E. Earickson, “The Religious Practice of the Sabbath: A Framework for Psychological Health and Spiritual Well-Being” (PhD diss., Alliant International University, 2004), 120.

[73] Barbara Baker Speedling, “Celebrating Sabbath as a Holistic Health Practice: The Transformative Power of a Sanctuary in Time,” Journal of Religion and Health 58 (2019): 1398.

[74] Holly Hough et al., “Relationships between Sabbath Observance and Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Health in Clergy,” Pastoral Psychology 68 (2019): 189.

Josh Rothschild

Josh Rothschild is Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Sojourn Church Midtown in Louisville, Kentucky and a PhD student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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