1 Jul 2015
Preserving a reverence for a relational, intimate theology
Google has shifted the economic, political, religious, and media spheres in profound ways. It has been called the modern “Guttenberg” equivalent, or as Loren Cunningham puts it, “Googleberg”. It cannot be overstated that society and its structure have changed since the first century. People simply go about life differently than they used to. The Christian church, largely associated today with more of a historical veneer rather than a relevant application, has remained fairly true to its ancient traditions. And while this is admirable, there is both positives and negatives to this fact. In regards to academic theology, it must not lose its depth of rigor as a field of study, from inside or outside of Christianity. Theology works at two levels though: one is philosophical, working with questions of that which are essentially beyond the grasp of man; and the other is practical, translating God and His message into one that fosters relationship with Him and man, and man with man.
But theology should not be considered to be a malleable field such as say the intrinsically evolving field of economics may be. Churches are not the market place, and pastors/theologians are not salesmen. Theology must remain a field of discovery; a canvas yet unfinished. Calvin’s Systematic theology articulated doctrines so well that It would seem even God barely had room to move. There is a place for open-mindedness, one where Scripture backs up viewpoints in a wholistic manner. Open Theology fits this bill. There are some grey areas in the church however, that find this “openness of God” to depreciate the fear of God. But if one main characteristic of God is that He is relational, then the presupposition that God has the ability to change His mind holds some real weight. But aside from the consideration of this ‘theistically open’ approach, the focus must remain on God for Christians, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as to how to go about Him. It can seem that technology is here to help us in this endeavor, but it has to be perceived with an unfiltered and contemplative eye.
It has been the experience of this introverted, quality-time motivated author (myself) that intimacy cannot be achieved outside of very intentional atmospheres, either physically or mentally. Our full attention needs to be in it, wherever we are. The technological tools of our modern age are neutral, and should be consulted as such. The academic dimension of theology stands to benefit from a plethora of information on the internet, as well as mobile devices such as e-readers and pre-read books on audio. But the relational dimension of theology hasn’t changed, and the digitally-progressive nature of technology inadvertently hints at inhibiting deep contemplation, quiet times, and revelational moments. But at the same time, our soulish human natures seek something outside of our own fabrication, and so a focus on the spiritual will not cease. So the question is not on whether technologies will envelope our need for spiritual experience, but whether we let it trivialize the process and make us complacent.
It is the age-old question of theology: “Will we enter in?” (Ex. 19:5-6). In the grand scheme of things, we still have the ability to take a weekend and spend it with God in the wildness. The stigmatism is that this is archaic and old-fashioned, but our free will still very much permits unusual actions. God isn’t intimidated by our inventions, but perhaps our own separation from Him is more the motives our heart then the technological clutter of our present society. Our responsibility to be relating with God intimately and often, and responding to His dialog with us. He will get through to us as long as we aren’t intentionally blocking Him out.
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