Our perpetual Advent

December 26, 2014

Time was full, ready to give birth.

A promise had been given and many had whispered of it afterward when they walked along the road and when they tucked their children in at night and when the world groaned with labor pains. 

“Through your seed all the nations shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3)

There were years and there were signs of pregnancy: examples and types, heralds and spokesmen, lone voices.


And waiting. Waiting upon waiting. For some, too long waiting on seemingly empty promises.

Habakkuk, one lone voice among the waiting, cried out in the night: “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?” (Hab. 1:2)

Violence, plundering, strife, and iniquity prevailed. Perverse judgment proceeded. The waiting people were suffering. How long, O Lord?

God called to mind the original promise. “Look among the nations and watch–be utterly astonished! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.” (Hab. 1:5)

And then there was silence. Physical eyes saw the continued rise of strife and struggle. Of evil. 

The people were waiting, the whispered promise almost forgotten.

But God.

He was silent, but he was working, knitting in the womb of time. 

His hands upended the world map, raising first the Babylonians to conquer and scatter God’s people, who in turn built synagogues in far-flung outposts. Then the Greeks rose to center-stage, bringing with them a love for words and ideas and creating a common world language. Finally, the Romans appeared, conquered the known world, building roads and throwing open borders.

Outpost synagogues where people gather to hear news and ideas? In a language all can understand? Brought by messengers through open borders and able roads? 

“For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

The womb of time grew heavy under God’s steady hand. 

“When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son . . .” (Gal. 4:4)

The womb of time burst open. Silence gave way to the Word. The cries from lone voices of long ago rang with truth, and their prophetic utterances fell in quick succession–born of a virgin, a son of Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling clothes. 

The angels sang. The wise men sought. Mary pondered. And then . . .

He was hidden because Herod was hunting.



Time seemed pregnant again.

Finally, a lone voice broke the decades-old silence, proclaiming to anyone who would listen that the kingdom of God was at hand.

The water turned to wine. The fish and loaves multiplied. And The Word started speaking, but his words were so . . . unexpected. The crowds pressed in on him, trying to knit him according to their desires. He fled them, knowing their expectations and that time was premature.

John, in prison, sent men to Jesus with one question: “Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matt. 11:3)

Violence, plundering, strife and iniquity prevailed. Perverse judgment proceeded. The waiting people were suffering. How long, O Lord? 

But God was knitting in the womb of time. The labor pains grew increasingly intense; those who had eyes to see and ears to hear followed them closely. Jesus vocalized what was to be birthed– “I have come that you might have life.”–and the means by which God would do so.


The crowds gathered, waving palm branches over their expectations, but soon after turned away, having misunderstood the whispered promise.

“For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

There would be no earthly kingship. There would be no toppling of Roman rule. 

There would only be death.

Are you the coming One, or do we look for another?

Silence and grief. Waiting and helplessness. Scattering and sorrow.

But Jesus.

He labored unto death, tore the veil from top to bottom, and rebuilt the temple in three days.

The angels announced. Women ran to tell. The Holy Spirit fell. And then . . .

Time became pregnant again.

A whispered promise. “I will come again and receive you to Myself.” (John 14:3)

Waiting. We are a people waiting.

The world has filled up again with darkness. Violence, plundering, strife, and iniquity prevail. Perverse judgment proceeds. People are suffering. 

How long, O Lord? 

“For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

And God labors, bringing forth the fullness of time, when time will give way to eternity.

Until then, we wait in perpetual Advent, with eyes open to see and ears cocked to hear. 

The labor pains are increasing, reminding of us his words: “Surely I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 22:20)

The waiting people, whispering the promise to our children, say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

Originally posted here.

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