Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pillar 4: Eschatology and technology

This is the last of my four pillars of a theology of technology. I have been thinking about this last blog for a couple of months and I am not that much clearer on the outline of the idea than when I first started. However, I remain convinced that eschatology matters for a theology of technology.

The reason is that across nearly 25 years of adult activity in churches I have tried to get them more interested in the everyday lives of those in the congregation. This started with my interest in economics and theology and moved onto an interest in connecting work day week lives with Sunday.  Across that time and in three churches of two different denominations on two continents my success has been zero - none, zip. It seems like I am in good company though, Robert Banks and Paul Stevens both more articulate and gifted communicators than I who have spent their lives on this topic have less impact than they should have had. My diagnosis is that there have been two barriers.

The first is that with professionalised pastorate, many of who have no vocation beyond that of the university environment and churches there are several inbuilt barriers. The lives of pastors revolve around church, their personal value (and income) depend on healthy churches. Second, having little experience of other jobs, they find it hard to relate to pressures and hierarchical structures or increasingly with the fragmented economy of sole contractors. Therefore church becomes an experience focussed on God in a Sunday morning context without a connection to the rest of the week.

The second aspect of this puzzle is that eschatology gets wrapped up in this picture somehow. The Protestant Reformation got us more focussed on God and subtly and not-so-subtly introduced other values such as new views of time and efficiency for the here and now while simultaneously creating a focus on 'saving souls'. We still carry in our heads images of heaven without work, but the scholarship on the Book of Revelation during the last 20 years has emphasised a different image - one of activity on the new heaven and the new Earth. The best we can often manage though in our churches is the injunction to be moral in the workplace with no depth to that concept. We don't see the laity talking about their calling and their mission fields.

Eschatology and our daily lives in the here and now are intimately connected - our view of the New Earth and the way we live now are connected but we have barely begun to unwrap what this means in the experience of churches. It may be present in our Bible / Theology colleges but it needs to be the experience of Christians worldwide.

Thus if we want to have a theology of technology we need the theology of the everyday (as Robert Banks would say) and as importantly as having gifted scholars write eloquent books on the subject we need to get our churches to live a different experience. Technology is just part of the mosaic of our everyday for which many of us don't have more than baby Christian speak for .... can we grow to maturity?

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