A lot of people are writing these days about the “Second Renaissance,” one driven by technology.
The events that have occurred over the course of the 20th century and continue to occur through the 21st century are events that have transpired within a lifetime but will impact the World for lifetimes to come.
Is there little doubt the church will be affected as well?
Consider the changes that have occurred in a relatively short period of time; there are over four billion smartphones in the world today, and the world is in the hands of the user. With this device, you can see and be seen, hear and be heard, and exchange prayer requests, anxieties, jokes, and tears with anyone, anywhere, at anytime. The world is indeed a global village.
Dr. Rocco Leonard Martino, writing for Aleteia goes so far as to say “the Gutenberg Press was the parent of the Renaissance age, the smartphone will be the parent of the emerging “Second Renaissance,” which will be a Renaissance driven by technology.
He gives several reasons. First, he believes that in less than five years everyone on the planet will be connected to each other. This will create demands for products and services well beyond our current productions.
Second, further advances in medical technology may signal the eradication of cancer, with tech research utilizing agents that will stimulate the immune system to kill the disease—something that’s already happening in some areas of medicine.
Third, Artificial Intelligence will continue to bring about robots, driverless cars, teaching machines, consumer services and even long-distance medical diagnostics.
How does the church figure into this Second Renaissance?
Jeff Forrest, the IT Director at New Life Church in Colorado Springs has some thoughts on the predictions.
He sees many churches embracing the new technological world but won’t go so far as to liken it to the creation of the creation of the Gutenberg press as this author does? He told MinistryTech.com:
“The Gutenberg press was the genesis of the information age and we have reached a saturation level with information in the last few years but I do agree that we are now at the beginning of a second Renaissance. Technology that allows us to process that information better is now in its infancy but it is eventually going to free up time for everyone. My hope is that we use that increase in time for lasting creative endeavors rather than amusement and distraction.
What does Forrest see on the horizon for the church in this technological age?
“Technology has always freed up time for activities besides physical labor. It will be interesting to see if the Church can fill that time with Holy Spirit led pursuits that benefit us all. Spiritual needs will still exist and likely intensify in “rich” countries and we need to be prepared to meet those needs.
I don’t think augmented reality or VR will be very impactful to the Church. I remember when Life Church began a Second Life online campus and someone ran around the “church” with a naked avatar. There will be churches that do it as a form of outreach. Spiritual truths can be conveyed through technology (Gutenberg as an example), but when you are in the hospital you need a physical being to experience community and love.”
Whatever comes of this “Second Renaissance” will be exciting and in many cases unforeseen. But it will also be fascinating to see how the church uses the tools to further the gospel.