The Gospel in the Age of Information
The sheer volume of accessible information is not making our current generations wiser than previous ones. While we may outpace the history of thinking with the vastness of information, we lack depth. Today, most knowledge spans for miles while remaining only an inch deep.
History tells us this modern phenomenon was not always so. Until the 15th Century, books were not a commodity. Johannes Gutenberg changed the world through his creation of a printing press - a creation which, in my estimation, is the greatest invention the world has ever known. From that press, for example, Bibles were massed produced so that the common church-going Christian could read the Word of God themselves, not having to rely on faulty bishops and priests to tell them the contents of the pages.
Furthermore, the Reformation would not have happened had it not been for the ability to produce Christian teaching literature in massive amounts. Indeed, even the Enlightenment would not have occurred either were it not for Gutenberg's invention. Although we see it merely as a simple invention, it proved to be revolutionary.
The progress of the printing press to modern transportations of information tells us something about what it means to be human. We have minds, we think, we reason, we learn, and by this, we grow in maturity, in character, the way we conduct ourselves, and so on. Our thinking faculty is not for mere exercise but influences our person deeply. We thrive on information, and by it, we progress.
Fast forward to modern times where the invention of the internet is providing information at rates books can only dream of. It seems strange to me to say that I was born before the internet, yet I do remember (to an extent) what life was like before it. My parents still have a set of Encyclopedia Britannica's from the 1980's sitting on their bookshelf collecting dust. As a young boy, if I ever had a school project for which research was required, I would turn to these books. It took a few minutes to find the topic I was looking for, mostly because I was distracted by other interesting topics. Moreover, the topic of research required me to look in multiple places.
With the internet, and websites like Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica is the equivalent of a dinosaur. What took minutes and hours before, now only takes seconds and minutes.
As the internet progressed, more information was added, and the speed of the internet increased. Coupled with the ability to access it from a device which can be stored in a pocket, it is safe to say that we now live in the age of information. Information surrounds us daily, and daily we are bombarded with something "new," "fresh," and "exciting." While like the Gutenberg press, the internet provides Christian literature at rates historically unprecedented, negative effects can be observed.
Bored With Christianity
It is noted in this generation that young people are already bored of the internet. Although new ideas are incessantly published, most are uninterested in the information already there. Yet, we continue to chase the latest fad.
Christians are not immune to this way of thinking. Although the gospel is firm and set, many focus intently on addressing every situation, whether political, social, or personal. It is not wrong to address these areas with gospel application, but as so often is the case, the gospel is soon shaped by the situation, not the situation by the gospel. When we become bored with information in the age of information, we soon are sucked into the mundane current of chasing the latest opinion, idea, or fad.
Because the gospel is steadfast and unchangeable, Christians are often labeled as “old fashioned” for continuing in sound doctrine. However, we must close our ears to such claims, and open them to the commands of Scripture to continue in “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
Unsatisfied with Information
As already noted, the age of information has brought with it a discontented attitude. In essence, we are unsatisfied with information. Discontentment often disillusions us to what truly matters in this life. When we are only focused on our wants and desires, we are liable to embrace lies to achieve our desired ends. That means that when we are unsatisfied with information, we are invariably indifferent to the truth.
Any discontentment in the physical is more often than not a sign that we are discontent in the spiritual realm. The gospel, though it is a set message, is the only remedy to cure our spiritual discontentment, for the gospel is the only message to repair our damaged relationship with the God who made us for Himself.
Let us, then, turn a deaf ear to those who wish for a fresh message. They may want a fresh message, but the gospel is what they truly need. Indeed, we as Christians need the gospel. We need to be so saturated in its message that the cares of this world and the pressing discontentment with what is would dissipate completely. The gospel thrives in the age of information because it is the only information that can save us from our sin.