Central Themes in the Work of Jacques Ellul

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Jacques Ellul was a professor of history and the Sociology of Institutions on the Faculty of Law and Economic Sciences at the University of Bordeaux. He wrote 58 books and more than a thousand articles over his career, many of which discussed propaganda, the influence of technology on society, and also the correlation between religion and politics. The central theme of Ellul’s work proved to be the threat to human freedom and religion shaped by modern technology.
Ellul’s continual concern was the rise of a technological oppression over humanity. According to the Boston Globe newspaper, he was a leader in the French resistance in World War II. For his determination to save the Jews, he was labeled “Righteous among the Nations” by Yad Vashem in 2001. He was also a layman in the Reformed Church of France and achieved a high position within it as part of the National Council.
Ellul considered Karl Barth, a leader of the confrontation against the German state church in World War II, the greatest theologian of the 20th century. Ellul also considered his father his role model. He has been credited with coining the phrase, "Think globally, act locally." According to the International Jacques Ellul Society (IJES), Ellul frequently said that he was born in Bordeaux by chance, but that it was by choice that he spent almost all his academic career there.
Ellul viewed the domination of mass media as an example of technology utilizing control over human’s purpose. As an example of
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