Volume 16 Issue 4
By now, most of us are aware of the startling changes unfolding within our culture and within Christianity. What is not readily apparent is the degree of impact these changes will have on the next generation. How will life change? What attitudes and agendas will be embraced by future generations? What beliefs and ideas will emerge and ultimately dominate?
New technology continues to rapidly produce revolutionary change. Almost daily, new technology is adopted into our lifestyles because it is convenient, novel, helpful, and in most cases “better.” One example is the cell telephone. Few people today would want to give up this technological advance. However, the cell phone has literally changed the world. It has created a subculture, it has altered our behavior, and it is affecting politics. It is a miracle of convenience and yet arguably, a danger to every user.
The cell phone is becoming more than a tool for communication. Phone companies are quickly adding various options including digital cameras, video recorders, MP3 music players, television, games, text messaging, digital books, electronic organizers, Internet and e-mail, and most recently movies (including pornography).
Herein lies a paradox. This marvelous gadget has forever changed the way we live, communicate, and do business – but, do we want all the changes it imposes? Cell phones cause a huge number of traffic accidents resulting in death each year. Cell phones have created a 24-hour workday. Cell phones have caused unprecedented distraction in boardrooms, churches, schools, and in public. Further, cell phones make all of us more vulnerable to crime and invasion of privacy than we care to know. Researchers are beginning explore the psychological and emotional changes in society resulting from cell phone use. At this point however, the affect of this constant stream of communication on our peace of mind and creative inclinations is immeasurable. Solitude, at least without concerted effort, is a thing of the past. When I installed my first briefcase-size car phone, I never would have guessed where it would all lead. I have genuine concern about every child in my church having in their pockets, lunch boxes, or Bible cases a small, easy-to-hide gadget that gives them unlimited access to violent video games, obscene music, and worse – pornography.
The medium has become the message. In the book “The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion,” (Ginko Press, 2002) Marshall McLuhan posits, “Whenever methods or media change, the message automatically changes along with them.”
The consequences of ideas are like the consequences of new technology in that we often embrace them without understanding the where they might lead. Spiritually, we sometimes convince ourselves that it is cool, or intellectual to play around with “new things” (Acts 17:21) without asking some important questions. Where do these new things lead? How will they change the Church? How will they change future generations?
For example, I believe there is danger in inviting people to pick a Bible translation of choice, as if there is no difference. In these times in which newspapers, secular magazines, and best-selling books are all slamming the Bible almost daily, the church needs leadership and long discussion along these lines. There are hundreds of Bible translations, and we cannot afford to have a willy-nilly, who-cares, do-as-you-please attitude. This matter has consequences that are far-reaching and cross-generational. Many Bible translations were put together with agendas and schemes. Many weaken the fundamental ideas of the Godhead, holiness, and the plan of salvation. Let’s think before we leap.
A spoof ad for “Worldview Academy” in “World” magazine (March 4, 2006) gave this example of how some postmods are approaching the New Testament. The ad shows a professor saying,
“I teach my New Testament class from a perspective of tolerance and diversity. It is all good. Professor Swanson says the Bible is to be interpreted in the relevance of your life and it’s different for everyone. Isn’t that beautiful?”
The point is that this is the kind of talk our young people are facing everywhere. As the ad goes on to state, there is a difference between “truth and beautiful hogwash.”
And so it is dear reader, there is a difference between truth and hogwash. Let us examine all things carefully with many hearts and many minds in the mix of the discussion. The choices we make have far-reaching impact, and some consequences do not always come readily into view. It is our duty to anticipate the effects of both our action and inaction. One-eyed prophets do not have the right to decide the future for God’s Spirit-filled Church. The future is up for grabs and as history has taught us, there is no going back.