I spend a lot of time thinking about the future. I pour over books by big-brained futurists, flip the pages of technology magazines, ideate at future-forward conferences and keep an eye out for the latest far-fetched innovations (jet packs and the Light Phone, for example). And, I should; it’s my job, kinda.
However, my keen interest in technology and its impacts on society surprises even me. Growing up, I had no interest in Star Wars or Star Trek or Star-anything. Rather, I preferred athletic, musical, philosophical and spiritual pursuits. My most in-depth encounter with the future came from church and an en vogue futurist eschatology. I distinctly remember reading Revelation 9:17 and being certain John was describing helicopters. Turns out Hal Lindsey thought so too.
Like many Christians my age, I grew up scared to death of the end times.
It was a way of life. There was a supporting industry of low-budget apocalyptic films, songs like “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” by Larry Norman and sensationalist books like "The Late, Great Planet Earth" by the aforementioned author. Later, doomsayers like Jack Van Impe would propagate his interpretation of news headlines and the fantastical endtimes book series "Left Behind" flew off the shelves. That was then.
Now, it seems that debates about topics like the rapture (“Are you pre-trib or post-trib?”) have all but vanished from popular Christian discourse. While this is to all our benefit, a Christian view for the future is as important as ever. Why?
Because the future — as envisioned in futuristic tomes and cartoons alike — is upon us.
The prophecies of yesterday’s sci-fi writer, philosopher and technologist surround us. The introduction of technology is happening faster than many systems and people can adopt it. This ‘disruption’ affects institutions like government, education, media and religion. It also causes a ‘future shock’ that leaves many people behind while others participate uncritically. In an age of Orwellian surveillance, Huxleyan narcissism and Terminator-inspired ‘wearables', a Christian response is in order. And, especially a Christian response without shallow criticism or withdrawal.
Here we find ourselves in the tension between the good and the cursed. In Genesis 1, we see that “God created mankind in his own image,” that “God blessed them” and charged them to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:27). Then in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve rebel and God curses creation.
Human creativity and dominion was given by God as a fundamentally good gift, but has — in this age — been tainted by human pride and a quest for godlikeness.
It is through this lens that we must view modern ingenuity. There is as much beauty and fallenness in the wheel, the book and electric circuitry as can be found in social media and virtual reality.
So, rather than predicting a rapture or fearing our digital age, the Christian should engage modern culture and shape it. As N.T. Wright implores, “The task of the church is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.” Indeed, Christians are to participate in the redemption of all creation, “whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20) — whether analogue or digital.
Jordan is/has been part of Redemption Church — in all its variations — for over ten years. With his wife, Elizabeth, Jordan leads one of our Oikos communities. He is a Vancouver native, graduated from Trinity Western University, and currently works in digital marketing.