It is well known that Gutenberg's invention of printing technology greatly encouraged, if not made possible, the Protestant Reformation with its emphasis on each individual reading the Scripture and finding the truth about God for themselves. It shifted the focus of the Christian religion from social conversions in which a clan leader or a price or an emperor decided for groups, large and small, if they would follow Jesus or not, to individual salvation. It gave birth to what may well be some unintended consequences, such as today's extreme forms of individualism.
What if a new communication technology becomes more dominant than the printed page? How will that change Christianity and other religions? The Internet, web sites, Email, Facebook, Twitter and texting are already beginning to move into the church. Two or three or more generations from now, how will this technology have changed the nature of faith itself?
Leonard Sweet has written more about the impact of contemporary social trends on Christianity than just about any other author around and his brand-new book is Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival. It is a must read, in my opinion.
Sweet points out that Christ was "a master Storyteller ... a crafter of parables for the artists of everyday." He uses the parable of the mustard seed to explain the situation that is about to begin. He points out that the mustard plant was an invasive plant like dandelions in your lawn. "The subversive mustard weed is nearly impossible to get rid of. Once it takes root, it takes over and invites every insect, pest, and rodent to live within its leaves. It spreads quickly and can grow and thrive almost anywhere." (page 188)
He asks, "What does infectious faith look like? It erupts in amazing beauty and resilient brilliance. It pricks with an occasional thorny thistle. It incites passion, spreads love, breeds kindness, generates compassion. While it infests the mind and heart with Jesus, it revives the body with the Holy Spirit. ... The Body of Christ." (page 189)
"Jesus was a master of stories and ... a healer of the body ... a holistic blend of mind/heart, soul, and physical body ... [a[ living organism." What will happen when a generation of young people invest the Jesus way of life with house churches, Skype Bible studies, Second Life enterprises, Facebook pages, and Twitter streams of prayer? What will be the common expressions of faith among my great-grandchildren? What is your speculation? Please share ... and read this book.