GLOBAL JOURNAL MAIN PAGE | EDITORIAL BOARD | TABLE OF CONTENTS (vol. 9, no. 3)
A Note from Our Editor: “Steve Jobs’ Passing As Apocalyptic Event?”
I am a convinced Mac user. I also do the PC but only for primitive activities such as gaming. For anything really serious, such as programming, it’s an Apple Mac. I kid my Patrick Henry College students that if they want problems they have only to wrestle with the miseries of Windows operating systems—which have become tolerable only by shamelessly imitating the Mac OS.
Italian polymath Umberto Eco, in a celebrated article in the Italian weekly news magazine, Espresso, way back on September 30, 1994, argued that
the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation. DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.
I strongly disagree. Ecco has never understood the Reformation message that we are saved by grace through faith apart from the works of the law. It is the PC (and not merely in its horrific DOS manifestation) that has required of the user conformity with an immense number of arcane rules and has promised early arrival in computer heaven only to those who have somehow reduced their time in purgatory by penitential acts of recovery after crashes due to viral attacks that cannot touch the Mac. True Christian faith in the Reformation spirit is the easiest religion in the world, since Christ has done everything for our salvation—but it is at the same time the hardest, since one must admit that, not being able to save itself, a fallen race needed Christ that much. The intuitive Mac user interface requires only trust that its Unix-based OS will deliver the goods; and that faith is so eminently justified that computer bookracks now feature a wide variety of change-over titles for those in process of conversion to the Mac from the woes of the PC.
The danger, however, is to turn a technical triumph into a religious phenomenon. Ten years ago, a religious sociologist published a trenchant article entitled, “May the Force of the Operating System Be with You: Macintosh Devotion As Implicit Religion” (Pui-Yan Lam, in 62/2 Sociology of Religion). Lam surveyed the Mac literature and conducted interviews with Mac users. He noted, inter alia, that the Mac enthusiasts, like a religious denomination, had its “devil” (Bill Gates and Microsoft); regarded its minority position as a badge not dissimilar to countercultural “election”; suffered perceived humiliation and persecution at the hands of the larger and more influential PC, especially business, community; and had a vision of “thinking differently” in an ethical quest “for an utopian future—a future about the harmonious co-existence of humans and technology.”
With the death by pancreatic cancer of Apple’s founder and guru Steve Jobs at the early age of 56 on 5 October, the religious side of the Mac phenomenon has became particularly acute. Across the world, cards and messages such as the following were to be found at the Apple stores: “Thank you for changing the world for the better.” “You changed my life.” “You made me a believer.” “See you in the ‘Cloud’ [a play on Scripture and on Apple’s soon to be released version of cloud computing].”
In spite of the staggering accomplishments and success of Steve Jobs’ Apple, one must face certain facts and, at all costs, refuse to fall into idolatry when viewing the Mac phenomenon.
A former President of Apple Products—a Frenchman, no less—Jean-Louis Gassée, declared (The Third Apple, trans. I. A. Leonard, 1987):
In the Old Testament there was the first apple, the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, which with one taste sent Adam, Eve, and all mankind into the great current of History. The second Apple was Isaac Newton’s, the symbol of our entry into the age of modern science. The Apple Computer symbol . . . represents the third Apple, the one that widens the paths of knowledge leading toward the future.
May we hypothesize that Mac computers, owing to their quality, could well be destined for use during the Eschaton? But, if so, it will be by grace and not because of human intelligence or cleverness, and those invited to the delicacies (including Chausson aux pommes flambées) at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will still need to be clothed in Christ’s righteousness, not in the rags of human accomplishment.
The Global Journal manifests diversity—not politically-correct diversity (we stand for the historic biblical gospel, once for all delivered to the saints!) but diversity of theme in our articles. The present issue particularly illustrates our catholic—small “c”—tastes.
John D. Laing, who provided a trenchant article on Plantinga’s “Reformed epistemology” in the previous issue, is a distinguished military chaplain; though we do not ordinarily publish an author in two consecutive issues of the Global Journal, his paper “Evangelical Chaplains, Ceremonial Deism, and the Establishment Clause” is too important not to reach our readers right away, touching, as it does, the fundamental issue of the degree of separation of church and state in America.
Then, on the philosophical side of things, Kevin Smith treats a viewpoint, panentheism, which has had much influence in liberal (especially process theology) circles: “The Rise of the Eighth-Day Man: The Advent of Modern Panentheism and Its Impact on the Doctrine of Biblical Sufficiency.”
Finally, we return to the first generation of the Protestant Reformation with a paper by Aaron T. O’Kelley: “Luther and Melanchthon on Justification: Continuity or Discontinuity.” Even if one disagrees with the author at certain points (e.g., Luther’s supposed non-acceptance of the Third Use of the Law), the reader will be transported by this essay to the heart of biblical teaching: the doctrine of justification, “on which the church stands or falls.” 
-- John Warwick Montgomery
 See, in support of Luther’s having held to a Third Use of the Law, Montgomery, “The Law’s Third Use: Sanctification,” in his Crisis in Lutheran Theology (2d ed., 2 vols.; Minneapolis: Bethany, 1973), I, 124-27; and Edward A. Engelbrecht, “Luther’s Threefold Use of the Law,” 75/1-2 Concordia Theological Quarterly 135-50 (January/April 2011).
They do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or of Patrick Henry College.