Radically Religious: Ecumenical Roots of the Critique of Technological Society

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Jacques Ellul formulated his influential critique of technological society in the decade following the Second World War, as one of a group of theologians and church people concerned about technology and social justice in war-torn Europe. They are a group I will call the Technology and Social Justice Movement. Their work was sponsored by the World Council of Churches in Geneva, and Ellul was its most recognizable speaker. Ellul visualized a society founded neither on Marxist nor capitalist terms, by radically rejecting the concepts of planning inherent in both. This paper analyzes the speech that brought Ellul to international attention, at the first assembly of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam in 1948, and draws on the correspondence and papers of Ellul held in the Geneva archives of the World Council of Churches. Ellul’s contributions required him to merge what he would later distinguish as his theological and sociological approaches. I argue that Ellul’s Amsterdam contributions illustrate how theologically grounded and truly radical his critique of technological society was.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhilosophy of Engineering and Technology
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NamePhilosophy of Engineering and Technology
ISSN (Print)1879-7202
ISSN (Electronic)1879-7210

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Christian Church
  • Official Report
  • Responsible Society
  • Social Disorder
  • Technological Society

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