NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — The death of Steve Jobs is a sobering moment for countless millions, Christians included.
“His impact is hard to overstate — his genius and inventions are ubiquitous,” author/blogger Ed Stetzer wrote a few hours after the death of Apple’s co-founder on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
“Earlier today, I blogged on tech tools I use — and Steve Jobs impacts my life every day. Steve Jobs literally changed the world,” said Stetzer, vice president of research and ministry development at LifeWay Christian Resources.
Greg Thornbury, dean of the school of theology and missions at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., noted that the looming wave of tributes to Steve Jobs will have “rightly lionized him for what he was: a creative genius, entrepreneur, visionary and once-in-a-generation inspiration.”
“I can still vividly remember watching the Super Bowl when Apple’s now famous ‘1984’ commercial aired. A monochrome crowd sat stone-faced and motionless, receiving orders from a totalitarian regime leader on a giant screen, when suddenly a girl dressed in red like an Olympian raced down the center aisle and hurled a hammer which smashed the screen and disrupted the propaganda of the machine.” The commercial “made using a Mac feel like an act of defiance — a protest against everything that was wrong, oppressive and broken with the “system,'” Thornbury wrote in a Oct. 5 tribute.
“The passing of Steve Jobs comes at a particularly bitter time for America. Many folks feel like they’re back in that scene from 1984, helpless and locked into a society that is cold and indifferent to them as individuals. For me, Apple’s homepage Wednesday night which read simply — Steve Jobs: 1955-2011 — felt like the death of Superman.
“But this is America, where heroes are born and proved. And somewhere out there there’s a kid in his garage furiously working away on some new innovation, and thanks to Steve Jobs, keeps dreaming.”
Stetzer cited Jobs’ reflections about death during a 2005 commencement address at Stanford, about a year after his first diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Jobs described death as “the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”
Stetzer commented: “I do not know Steve’s spiritual condition, but I do know that each of us must live in the light of eternity. Steve died today. I could be tomorrow. May I live my life in light of that reality– that life is fleeting AND that eternal life is a gift to all that have been made new in Christ.”
Among other comments on Jobs’ death at age 56 from various quarters in the Baptist and larger Christian community:
— Chris Forbes (www.ChrisForbes.org), co-author of “Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits” and an Oklahoma Baptist layman: “Steve Jobs was admired by many for his contribution to technology and corporate management. But people may not think about how his work also impacted the church for the better. His inventions gave ministries access to affordable tools they needed to create and express the message of the Gospel to the world. Before, media was expensive to produce and difficult to distribute. But now the church is in the middle of a creative renaissance with every form of Christian media impacted.
“There are exciting developments in everything, from the publishing, graphics, video and filmmaking, music, Internet, mobile technology — the list is long. And in every type of media, Christian communication is flourishing. Think of the millions of people who have more access to the Gospel just using Bible apps on their iPhones. We owe a lot of thanks to Steve Jobs.”
— R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.: “… Christians cannot leave the matter where the secular world will settle on Steve Jobs’ legacy. The secular conversation will evade questions of eternal significance, but Christians cannot. As is the case with so many kings, rulers, inventors, leaders, and shapers of history, Christians can learn from Steve Jobs and even admire many of his gifts and contributions. Yet, we must also observe what is missing here.
“I am writing this essay on an Apple laptop computer. I am listening to the strains of Bach playing from my iPad via an AirPort Express. My iPhone sits on my desk, downloading a new App from iTunes. Steve Jobs has invaded my life, my house, my office, my car, and my desktop — and I am thankful for all of these technologies.
“But … Christians know what the world does not — that the mother tending her child, the farmer planting his crops, the father protecting his family, the couple faithfully living out their marital vows, the factory worker laboring to support his family, and the preacher preparing to preach the Word of God are all doing far more important work.
“We have to measure life by its eternal impact, even as we are thankful for every individual who makes this world a better place. But, don’t expect eternal impact to be the main concern of the business pages.”
— Ryan Scott Bomberger (www.toomanyaborted.com), co-founder of The Radiance Foundation, an adoptee and adoptive father: “As a creative professional, [Jobs’] visionary work has helped my own visions become reality. But his vision, his destiny and his ability to affect people, globally, may never have happened. Jobs was adopted as a baby and loved by his parents, Clara and Paul Jobs. The baby they took into their hearts and home had a purpose in life that would be unleashed by the powerful act of adoption. … It’s amazing to me that, in 2011, especially among Christians, how foreign a concept adoption is. Adoption is the essence of salvation. There is no Christianity without adoption, in the spiritual sense. Yet, in the physical sense, it is rarely considered as an option. For those who are so passionately pro-life, it is often the challenge thrown before us in our opposition to abortion, and rightfully so. We have an opportunity to unleash purpose in a child waiting to be loved. I was one of those children back in 1971. Steve Jobs was back in 1955. The beauty of possibility is that we all can play a role in helping to foster and encourage it. Who knows what my children, both adopted and biological, will become? All I know is that loving them, unconditionally, will allow their God-given purpose to flourish. … There are so many well-known adopted individuals that have impacted many of our lives in one way or another: Charles Dickens, George Washington Carver, Nat King Cole, Babe Ruth, Dave Thomas (Wendy’s), Bo Diddley (musician/performer), Dan O’Brien (Olympic Decathlon gold medalist) and Faith Hill, just to name a few. Steve Jobs is among this list of infinite possibility. No matter the perceived worldly success of an adoptee, adoption is a loving act that transforms, not only the life of the child, but the entire family. And, sometimes, the world.”
— Michael A. Milton, chancellor-elect of Reformed Theological Seminary: “There is a biography of [Jobs] coming out soon and we will learn more about this rather secretive icon of our age. But it is doubtful that we will learn that he was a devout Christian. I do not know his final moments and therefore I make no judgments, commending this man and his family to a God whose grace and love is greater and wider than we could ever imagine. Yet, in God’s common grace, He used this man’s innovation and creativity to build a new Roman Road to the world — a pathway through the extremities of a world still held in the tyranny of despots and dictators, poverty and radical religious fetters. … And so the gospel is getting through to the most hostile places on earth as well as to the most hostile ideological places in the secularized Western world. … Behind this brilliant and quite resilient man who changed so much of modern life, and whose destiny is now with His Creator, is really the figure of One who rose again from the dead. Through the creativity of Steve Jobs is a God using all means to reach His own.”
— Steve McConkey, president of 4 WINDS, a website also known as christianinvestigator.com, and minister to track and field athletes (www.trackandfieldreport.com): “From all indications, Steve Jobs was a Buddhist. The college dropout started Apple Computer with friend Steve Wozniak in the late 1970s. By 1980, he was a millionaire. Jobs was born in San Francisco. His favorite musicians were the Beatles and Bob Dylan. The San Francisco counterculture had an influence on Jobs. He experimented with psychedelic drugs. The name Apple was inspired by the Beatles’ Apple Corps. Like the Beatles, Jobs went to India to seek spiritual truth. He eventually converted to Buddhism. Buddhist monk Kobun Chino presided over his wedding. Also, Forbes magazine is publishing a comic book about Steve Jobs. The book focuses on Steve’s travels to Japan. The [comic] book re-creates the relationship with his mentor, Kobun Chino Otogawa, a Buddhist priest. … Steve Jobs’ mission was to understand Buddhism better. Steve Jobs was the Einstein of our time with advances in technology that shape everything we do. Because of his Buddhist beliefs, our concern is about this worldview. Buddha was a prince in India and founded Buddhism. Buddhists do not believe in a Supreme Being. Seven percent of the world’s population are Buddhists. Buddhists believe suffering comes from desire. In order to remedy the situation, they believe a person should have right thoughts and do good things. They follow the ‘Eightfold Path’ and ‘The Four Noble Truths.’ Many Buddhists believe in reincarnation. When a person becomes enlightened, reincarnation ceases. Christianity counters Buddhism. Christians believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There is one God who reveals Himself eternally through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christians believe that all people have sinned and need salvation through Jesus Christ. Good works cannot save a person. Christians believe that Jesus Christ died for man’s sins so that those who believe in Christ will be saved. Once a Christian, a person will spend eternity with Jesus Christ.”
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press. The text of Ed Stetzer’s tribute on Steve Jobs can be accessed at www.edstetzer.com; the text of Greg Thornbury’s, www.uu.edu/news/release.cfm?ID=1888; R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s, www.albertmohler.com/2011/10/06/steve-jobs-1955-2011; Ryan Scott Bomberger’s, www.lifenews.com/2011/10/06/steve-jobs-changed-the-world-adoption-changed-his.