Can a Robot Become a Christian?
When you are an evangelical thought leader, you must be on the cutting edge of every news trend, with a hot take loaded into the chamber and ready to be shot into the mind of every horny seminary student from Louisville to Dallas. This is why you must always take several seconds to skim the news stories, so that you can take your existing opinions and apply them to a new issue without having to think any new thoughts.
Which brings us to robots. Everywhere you look, and by that I mean the headlines I just saw, robots are in the discourse. Alan Musk making robot cars! Jeff Beezus delivering robot cars to your doorstep with flying delivery robots! And as if that’s not enough, now Google AI is reportedly “self aware,” which is a phrase that you use to describe your spiritual journey when the restoration committee asks for an update.
Let’s take a look at the issues regarding robots and spirituality, and use enough headings so that I can just describe the issues and not commit to any deep thinking about any of them.
Can a robot be saved?
Yes. You can program a robot to say the sinner’s prayer. But you can also program a robot to renounce the cross and pledge allegiance to Satan, the lord of hell and darkness. So, no. But then the Baptists would say that this robot was never saved to begin with, because of something about the tip of the tulip, which sounds like a thing Ruth did to Boaz when she “uncovered his feet,” but anyway I haven’t been allowed to teach Sunday School for a while now.
Do robots have souls?
No. So what? Presbyterians and Democrats don’t have souls, but God still uses them.
What about baptism?
Yes, it is true that if you lower a robot into the baptistry and submerge it, its compartments may flood and there is a high chance it will short out and be permanently damaged. But let’s be real: what pastor among us, over the course of a life of ministry, has not lost dozens of people in the baptism tank? In the old days, when you baptized people in rivers and whatnot, it was easy to explain it away: when you got hauled before the board, you could just make the fin symbol with your hands and be like it was a BIG shark this time, and they’d be like “this is Kansas,” but whatever, some people are just divisive.
Should we affirm robots serving in ministry?
Provided it survives the baptism, a robot may instantly upload thousands of volumes of theology books to its memory and demand to serve in church leadership. Now you are at a tipping point, which is a phrase that thought leaders use that doesn’t really mean anything. But anyway, your church has to decide if it will affirm robots. And this will be easy, because churches never argue about whether to affirm things.
Robot Pastor has begun shooting lasers out of its ocular banks, I think it may have been damaged in the baptism, we’ve got a little bit of a situation here, what do we do?
Stay low and move in erratic, zig-zag patterns. Attempt to overload the robot’s sensory capabilities by playing a late-90s Christian ska song over the building intercom, preferably something along these lines:
We have sheltered in the youth annex and barricaded the doors with VBS supplies, we can hear Robot Pastor pacing in the hall, one hour ago we sent our worship pastor out for help but he has not returned, we are fashioning crude weapons from the guitars and mic stands, get the women and children to the back, when the barricade gives way, follow me into the breach as the spirit of Gordon Fee possesses me and I swing this bass guitar battle-axe at the hell droid’s head, it has been an honor to serve with all of you, except those of you on the restoration committee
*note about paid subscriptions
Hey. Real voice Matthew here. At some point, I may turn on paid subscriptions for this substack. But here’s my thing: I don’t want to hide humor behind a paywall. People need to laugh as much as they can right now. So, all the articles like this one will still be on the outside, free to all. I’ve got some different ideas for things to do as paid articles. Things like:
longer-form CCM essays
quick character studies of strange people I’ve encountered in Christian culture
fan fiction/fake script pieces (“youth pastor island” or “Mark Driscoll and Joel Osteen, bounty hunters” are a few ideas)
Anyway, I’m still working through what that might look like. Just wanted to say the thought leader/think piece-style articles will still be free. Thanks for reading and sharing.