Christianity in the Information Age

I’m currently reading through Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now by Greg Boyd. I’ll give a fuller review/commentary later, but I found this section last night particularly poignant.

Around five hundred years ago Western culture underwent what’s called “the scientific revolution.” At that time our culture discovered that, with the right information, the laws of nature could be harnessed to our advantage. We learned that “knowledge is power.” This mind-set has produced a culture of people who put a great deal of trust in information. We tend to assume there is no problem that can’t be resolved if only we acquire the right information.

This is one of the reasons why many contemporary Western Christians place so much stress on hearing sermons, engaging in Bible studies, reading books, and attending seminars and conferences. We believe that acquiring information is the key to helping us grow spiritually and solving our personal and social problems.

Of course, it can’t be denied that sometimes information helps people grow and sometimes helps people solve problems. But it also can’t be denied that, while knowledge may give us power in all other areas of life, it does not on its own empower us to become more Christlike. When it comes to living in the Kingdom, moment-by-moment, our typical Western confidence in information is misplaced….

One could argue that our historically unprecedented confidence in the power of information is part of the problem. Why do so many Christians today spend more time listening to sermons or reading books than they do feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, welcoming outcasts, visiting prisoners, or engaging in other activities Jesus said should characterize Kingdom people? I suspect it’s at least partly because many believe they’re already living in the Kingdom by virtue of the fact that they’re learning about the Kingdom. The truth is that there is no necessary connection between these two things….

The challenge of living in the Kingdom is not about figuring it out. There’s really nothing to figure out! The challenge, rather, is in submitting to it.The only information we need to know is that the love of God that was revealed on Calvary surrounds us at every moment and the supreme goal of our life is to surrender to it. The question then is, Will we do this?

I’m a theology student. I spend a lot of hours a week thinking about God. Apart from classes, I listen to at least 3 sermons a week, read blogs, follow other podcasts, and sit around in Bible Study discussing and thinking even more. Thinking. I’d like to think I spend some hours living the Kingdom of God, too. But the majority of my time is thinking about the Kingdom of God without doing anything about it. I know I’m not alone on this – maybe I’m an extreme but in my experience it is a common trend in Western Christianity to be obsessed with information over wisdom. This is definitely a very tough challenge for me, but I want to share it to you as well. How much is the quest for more information stopping you from surrendering to the life of the Kingdom of God?

  • http://www.facebook.com/somecop Stephen Bradley

    Interesting observation. It reminds me of a Louis C.K. bit where he talks about the feeling he gets when he THINKS about giving up his first class airline seat to a soldier in uniform. The punchline is that he never ever does it, but it sure makes him feel good to THINK about having done it.