Sunday, March 14, 2010

Christianity, Technology and Beyond.

I think that most Christians would agree that technology should be used in the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ. I am not sure that the Christian communities can yet discern all of the ways that technology could be used, the ways that should be used, or the consequences of using technology.

One advantage of technology is that our message can be communicated faster, less expensively, and to more people where they are at any given time. As a result, more people can participate in the process of thinking about our faith. This freedom to participate could lead to more passion, commitment, and creativity. Additionally, some technologies put the expression of faith into a public space open to direct challenge and debate, possibly strengthening our own perspectives.

However, there could be some disadvantages. As more people can express themselves, the diversity of viewpoints can multiply. Those concerned with issues of orthodoxy versus heresy may find the diversity of interpretations overwhelming. Even today, if one ventures an expression of faith in any online venue, one will find many differences of opinion. Some of them are informed, but many are poorly informed. It is difficult to weigh these many opinions. It could lead to confusion. With the large fissures between Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox, and Protestantism along with the tremendous fractionalization within Protestantism itself, Christianity may already have completed a very tall tower of Babel. Technology may make it worse before it gets better, if it does ever get better. Also, as our message enters further into the public square, Christians may lose the debate. The use of technology may also lead to de-personalization and a further emphasis on the individuality of our faith. While certain technologies may help us overcome these issues, (at the risk of sounding sappy), sometimes there is no substitute for a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand when we fall, or a community of love to accept us as we are.

Beyond these issues of technology, I see three major inter-related challenges. First, Christians need a clear, simple, straightforward, understandable expression of our faith that does not needlessly put us at odds with our worldviews nor make us appear delusional. At the same time, our expression of faith, while informed by our increasing knowledge, cannot abandon core truths of Christianity. I keep listening! Quite a challenge. Second, Christianity needs men and women who have experienced the power of God in Jesus Christ in their lives, experiences that will drive a passion and commitment that overcomes the call of comfort, power, recognition, or wealth. A passion and commitment that opens the hearts and lives of other people. Finally, Christians need to build communities of faith, acceptance, equality, freedom, justice, and love in which the kingdom of God draws near.

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