ERLC books published in 2018

December 4, 2018

In an effort to equip the church, members of the ERLC have published several books over the last year (and the end of the previous year). Touching on topics such as human dignity, race, diversity, gender, technology, and the family, these books and resources can be used to think more deeply about the issues facing Christians and the church. Below are the recent books published by ERLC authors for 2018, as well as some published in late 2017. We hope that they may be a useful guide for you in thinking through how to engage the culture around you with the gospel.

Dan Darling, The Dignity Revolution: Reclaiming God’s Rich Vision for Humanity (The Good Book Co.)

Each person possesses dignity because they are made in the image of God. That is the both obvious and counter-cultural claim made by Dan Darling in The Dignity Revolution. In the face of daily examples of abuse, scandal, hate, and pain, Darling offers a simple but powerful message: The church should offer the truth that each individual bears dignity and is worthy of our respect. For this reason, from the moment of conception to the moment of death, and every moment in between, people are to be treated for what they are—those bearing the image and majesty of God. Darling examines topics as wide ranging as abortion, end-of-life issues, prison and criminal justice, race, work, poverty, and sexuality. In each of these, he calls us to see not an issue but people. We may disagree with them, but we must never malign them or rob them of the dignity that they are owed as fellow image-bearers. Dan Darling offers a hopeful message of how we are to treat the stranger in our land as well as our political adversary. As the church, we are to be the voice which always points to upholding the dignity of all because we recognize the unique position of image-bearers, especially when others do not.

You can order a copy of The Dignity Revolution here.

Jason Thacker, Technology & The Future: Human Flourishing in a Digital Age (Leland House Press)

One of the most pressing questions facing Christians is how we are to understand technology. In this short introduction, Jason Thacker offers the church a helpful tool to begin engaging the increasing digital world around them. Rather than approach technology as inherently good or evil, Thacker asks Christians to consider the deeper ethical questions of how we use technology.

Ultimately, it is a tool to be used for the glory and love of God and love of neighbor. Thacker’s hopeful message for the church is that technology is a good gift from God, but we must thoughtfully consider the ways that we are shaped by and are shaping this gift. It is a great introductory resource for those beginning to think through a theology of technology.

You can order a copy of Technology and the Future here.

Russell Moore, The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home (B&H Books)

The family is under assault. However, this is not a diatribe against American culture, but a reminder that the family has always been under assault. That is the claim of Russell Moore in his most recent book, The Storm-Tossed Family. The family is the place which has the ability to provide grace and shelter, but also is the place where we are most vulnerable. Moore’s book is a hopeful indicator that while our family may be in crisis, or we may feel as if we have no family, there is one who understands the unique pain that a family can bring, and who stands with nail-scarred hands ready to receive us into a family not of blood but divine will.

The church, as the family of God, is to be the place of refuge from the storms of the world. The church offers a vision of family not grounded in strength, power, or usefulness. Rather, each member is recognized and regarded as worthy because we all have been adopted. Covering topics such as sex, children, marriage, manhood and womanhood, and parenting, Moore shows how the a cross-centered vision forms and guides the approach of the church to these issues. The cross, like the family, is a place of both pain and salvation. The path of salvation is a path that is not easy. It is like a boat rocked on the waves, but not sunk. The family may be under assault, but it will not be destroyed.

You can order a copy of The Storm-Tossed Family here.

Trillia Newbell, God's Very Good Idea: A True Story of God's Delightfully Different Family (The Good Book Co.)

In this children’s book, Trillia Newbell shows how the beauty of diversity was part of God’s plan. Beginning in Eden and culminating before the throne of God, the book explores the ways that diversity evidences the creativity of God and is a part of design and goal of the universe. This diversity is manifest most when people who are different love one another and their differences.

Newbell offers parents the chance to engage their children with the gospel story and its importance on the topic of race. For those seeking a book to broach these complex topics with their young children, Newbell’s offering is an indispensable resource. (Published in late 2017.)

You can order a copy of God’s Very Good Idea here.

Andrew Walker, God and the Transgender Debate: What does the Bible Actually Say about Gender Identity (The Good Book Co.)

What does the Bible have to say about gender identity? In this book, Andrew Walker examines one of the most pressing questions in culture. Walker offers an accessible volume for those seeking answers or an introduction to the terms. This pastoral book is meant to be used by those wondering about pronoun usage, how to love and care for those with gender dysphoria, and the witness of the church in a gender-confused age.

The winner of the 2017 The Gospel Coalition Public Theology and Current Events Book of the Year Award, God and the Transgender Debate is a helpful tool for those seeking to understand the new landscape of gender and sexuality while also bringing to bear the truth of Scripture on the issue. Readers will come away with both a theology of gender and practical guidelines for navigating this new reality. (Published in late 2017.)

You can order a copy of God and the Transgender Debate here.

Thanks to the generosity of our cooperating churches and supporters like you, the ERLC is able to be courageous in the public square. Help us multiply our efforts by making a tax-deductible end-of-year gift to the ERLC today.

Alex Ward

Alex Ward serves as the research associate and project manager for the ERLC’s research initiatives. He manages long term research projects for the organization under the leadership of the director of research. Alex is currently pursuing a PhD in History at the University of Mississippi studying evangelical political activity in … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24