Christianity Today, Robot ‘Church Fathers’ Might Curate New Canons:
Generative AI systems like ChatGPT, which can produce humanlike responses to users’ prompts, will undoubtedly shape how we, as the Book of Common Prayer puts it, “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the Scriptures. Indeed, there are already multiple tailor-made AI-driven chatbot systems being used for Bible engagement—which I’ve dubbed “BibleGPTs”—including IlluminateBible.com, SiliconScripture.org, Bible.ai, and OpenBible.info’s AI-assisted Bible Study.
As a digital theology expert, I believe these kinds of “BibleGPTs” will continue to advance, proliferate, and eventually become proprietary systems. And as this happens, the church and its leaders will be prompted to make some momentous decisions about the Christian canon. This will, in turn, influence how we interpret the Bible and impact the future of our faith and practice. …
AI users risk offloading Bible reading. On-demand answers may replace our efforts to engage the Bible and wrestle with what is written.
There’s something important about reading the Bible itself—and for ourselves. Something in the way it draws us into the story and invites us to face questions about who we really are. GPTs may provoke a Google reflex, where we instinctively search for an answer before wrestling with the question. This Google mindset assumes that access to Scripture is the same as knowledge of Scripture.
Pre-digested Bible content generated by GPTs isn’t a direct path to spiritual formation. We must remember that the ultimate purpose of reading the Bible is to encounter God, to be transformed by that encounter, and to be equipped to participate in what God is doing in the church and the world. …
BibleGPTs may very well have a place in God’s kingdom, but wherever they oppose the purposes of Scripture itself, we must rethink their design and use. How can these systems be shaped to serve us well? …
The GPT training data sets have already absorbed plenty of Christian-oriented content, as well as plenty of toxic content as well. In her recent PhD dissertation, “Righteous AI,” Gretchen Huizinga writes that “crowd-sourced wisdom does not reflect divine wisdom. It gives equal weight to the wise and the foolish and ignores the absolute and transcendent.”
This means that, for Christians, discernment will be vital.
Innovative Christians have an opportunity to create BibleGPTs that will make our Scripture diet healthier and more holistic. But this requires an intentional effort—in our design as much as our doctrine, and in our strategy as much as in our theology.
In 1943, Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Likewise, as we shape our AI systems, they will shape us for years to come. The landscape of Bible engagement is indeed already changing—the skylines are not what they were even a year ago.
If we don’t think proactively about BibleGPTs, we will reap the consequences. But if we are clear and conscientious in how we design them, the opportunities are incredible. The best designed BibleGPTs will do what the Bible itself does: encourage and enable Christians to connect with God in ways that transform them and equip them for mission.
This is why Christians must approach BibleGPTs with extraordinary care and a global vision—the future of Bible reading depends on it.
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