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‘You could, you know, just think for yourself’

(Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay)


An editorial at Not the Bee is reporting that Christianity Today has begun promoting pastors “that use AI for sermons” and is asking the obvious question, “Why?”

The magazine, which actually was begun by Billy Graham but has changed significantly over the years, wrote how, “I Used ChatGPT for Six Months to Help My Pastoral Ministry. Here’s What Worked.”

The commentary is from a “young Taiwanese pastor.”

Yu-Li Lin explains, “Since ChatGPT became publicly accessible last year, we’ve heard reports that artificial intelligence (AI) will replace jobs and disrupt other aspects of our lives. Such changes may not currently be apparent to individual local churches in Taiwan. But in recent months, a number of Christian thinkers have been discussing how AI might either aid or possibly replace humans when it comes to pastoral care and preaching.”

He said, “Several pastors point out that AI lacks physical, emotional, or empathetic abilities, though I personally believe that these limitations may one day be overcome technologically. In addition, they note that AI’s social bias, monopolization, and lack of spirituality when it comes to data labeling. But these are the same dilemmas humans are facing.”

He noted that while some see an “ideological bias” in AI, “We can actually use the intelligence of ChatGPT to examine whether our words could unintentionally offend congregants with different political identities and positions.”

He said his six months “exploring” AI has led him to believe it “offers ways for pastors to more efficiently work and balance their many responsibilities.”

He pointed out previously pastors relied on “liturgical manuals or official sermon templates, or they recycle their own past sermons for recurring events like invocations, fundraising activities, weddings, and funerals.”

He said ChatGPT would allow pastors to create “pastoral notes, personal biographies, prayer letters, news reports, etc. (making sure to protect personal information and privacy)” and create templates.

And he found ChatGPT can “instantly generate a paraphrase of a Scripture passage or write discussion questions for a college student fellowship or a community small group. I could ask ChatGPT to summarize and synthesize various Bible commentaries and content from reference books that I feed it to create a rough research report on a certain theme.”

And he submitted his “reflections and thoughts” to AI and then got help to “synthesize these thoughts.”

“Preaching—be it preparing a sermon or delivering the words to a congregation—is a process that currently involves a speaker, the influence of numerous people living and dead, and the Holy Spirit. I believe that within these actions, there is room for the work of AI too,” he wrote.

Not the Bee noted, “If your pastor has been sounding a little robotic lately, there may be an explanation for that.”

It continued, “The author thinks that, in time, ChatGPT will become emotionally intelligent enough to be much more humanlike than it is now.”

It said, “Or you could, you know, just think for yourself instead of using an impersonal machine.”


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