Category Archives: Culture-Economics-Society

Online “Church”: Are the Kids Really Fine?

The older generations, having come of age in cultures of society, church and education that are formed by reading physical books and encountering peers and authority figures in physical space and time, are better equipped to transfer those educational, spiritual, and social habits into the digital realm and to cope with the shortcomings of digital media, than are younger generations. Put succinctly, we think the kids are fine (even perhaps doing better than we are with all this Zooming!), but they’re not. Continue reading

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Online “Church”: United, or Merely Simultaneous?

If the entirety of my pre-COVID worship experience has been simply passive and receptive (hearing and observing the preaching and the musicians) while I am standing or sitting beside someone else in the assembly with whom I am barely acquainted—then there is little benefit to the incidental simultaneity of our passive reception of the information presented to us by the pastor or the worship leader. If this is all that church has been, then it is not surprising that people would feel little loss by introducing the mediating technology, i.e., receiving preaching and music while at home—with or without a pandemic. Continue reading

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How Did We Get Here? The Pre-COVID Road to “Online Church”

Even before the pandemic, “word” and “image” had been technologized with some extension of their reach—but with increasing fluidity, and at the cost of “presence,” which cannot be replicated. Technology makes us feel as though we can replicate presence, but it rather enables us to persist in practices that do not really satisfy or edify. Continue reading

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Halting In-Person Worship: Christian Liberty? Obedience to Romans 13?

Christians are obliged to respect civil authorities (Rom 13:1–7), and should be willing to lay down our rights for the sake of others (1 Cor 8:9–13). If the government says we may not meet or should not meet, mustn’t we take that into account? Continue reading

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Franklin on Why the Christian Response to COVID-19 Must Change

It is my pleasure to commend to you Dr Franklin’s recent piece, “Metaphysics, Medicine and Modern Science: Why the Christian Response to COVID-19 Must Change.” Continue reading

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Science, Worship, and an “Epistemology of Love”

So far we have seen that a modern scientific worldview has difficulty accounting for the immaterial “essence” of human personhood, and therefore cannot meaningfully balance the risks of physical and spiritual harms. In this installment, we compare “scientific” ways of knowing (epistemology) with other means of knowing that are just as important for human life and purpose: knowing through love, and knowing through ritual. Knowing truth about God and ourselves by these means gives us purpose and hope. Continue reading

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Humanity, Danger, and “Knowing”: Ancient and Modern Worldviews

How do we know what we are, as humans? How do we know what we know? On whom or what do we rely in order to determine what is safe and what is dangerous? Continue reading

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Is Church an “Essential Service”?

If a 70-year-old man receives a cancer diagnosis with a six-month prognosis, but could extend his life possibly two years by chemotherapy that would make his life extremely painful—is it moral for him to refuse treatment? What about a 50-year-old man, offered a ten-year extension of unpleasant life through such a harsh six-month medical treatment? How should the costs of medical treatment, and the burden on family, factor into his decision? Who is fit to decide such things?
In the midst of a situation in which a serious communicable disease is present in the population, should it be permissible to hold religious gatherings? What about funerals or weddings? Extreme unction (“last rites”) in the case of someone dying from a disease that could be transmitted to the priest?
Is it moral to celebrate the Eucharist in the midst of a pandemic? How risky for the celebrant and the participants must it be, in order to be deemed too great a risk? How should the risk of transmitting the disease to others beyond the consenting participants be factored into the ethical calculation? How might it be acceptable to modify the structure of the celebration in order to reduce health risk? Continue reading

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Article on Technology, Worship and Deuteronomy Now Available

Under the terms of publication, I am now permitted to post my 2019 article, “Technologising of Word and Sacrament: Deuteronomy 14:24–26 and Intermediation in Worship” (European Journal of Theology 28.1 [2019]: 66–77). Continue reading

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On In-Person Worship, Civil Authorities, and Christian Freedom

I’ve prepared an essay entitled, “Technologising of Worship Before and During Pandemic: Epistemology, Eschatology, and Presence,” which is under review with a journal. However, I wanted to share portions of it here before publication, for the benefit of anyone who might be interested. In his excerpt, I argue that Romans 13 and 1 Corinthians 8 cannot be used to justify Christian leaders’ acceptance of government orders to cease in-person worship, even during a pandemic. Continue reading

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