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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
Scripture Corner…

CYBERTHEOLOGY

In our contemporary world cybernet has become an influential reality to the extent that all aspects of life are affected by it. Thus, in dealing with theology too cyber influence comes into the scene; hence, cybertheology! It is a fact that human beings do not remain unchanged when the world around them changes. It is not only the means of communication like internet that are transformed, but the self, the society itself as well as the culture of the people. Throughout history, technological advances have transformed the lives and sense of self of human beings. They actually make the story of the human experience of technology. This implies that our humanity unfolds through the routes and navigation systems that open up new horizons to us, let it be through writing, telephone, fax, email or whatsApp.

Looking at the cybernet from the internet perspective, Antonio Spadaro writes, "The internet is not an instrument; it is an ambience which surrounds us. The handheld devices that permit us to be connected at all times are becoming ever lighter and smaller, making life's digital dimensions almost transparent. They are open doors that are rarely closed" (Thinking Christianity in the Era of the Internet, p. vii). Surely, internet is changing our everyday lives as well as our relationships with the world and with people who are close to us. As it changes our ways of living and thinking, does it not change our way of thinking and living our faith?

Internet is an interesting reality for a believer, if at all he takes it from its positive perspective. It can affect his capacity to comprehend reality, and therefore, his faith and the way of living it. It can also help to increase his human potential. Internet can be considered to be an essential resource;  however, it requires critical scrutiny and wise responsible usage. It is obvious that the internet, emerging from a long history of innovation and technological advances in communication, cannot but have an effect on the comprehension of one's faith and the Church as such. Again, in its positivity, the logic of the internet can help to model theological logic, knowing very well that the internet now poses interesting challenges for Christianity as people want quick answers or responses through cyber realm. Redemptoris Missio states that, "The media have not only the channels to spread the news and gossip many times over but that there is also a more profound reason why the evangelization of modern culture to a great degree depends on their influence. It is not enough to use the media to spread the Christian message and the Magisterium of the Church; there is a need to integrate the message itself into this new culture that has been created by modern communication" (no. 37). This is a complex problem because that culture was born before the creation of its content since there are many and more new ways of communicating, with new languages, new techniques, and even new psychological attitudes.

On the one hand, the statement of Jesus that, "Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature" (Mk. 16:15), shows clearly that Christianity is a communicative event. Everything in Christian Revelation, including the incarnation itself, exudes communication. The heavens tell about the glory of God, the angels are his messengers and the prophets speak in his name. On the other hand, the words of Exodus that, "You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in sky above or on earth below or in the waters beneath the earth" (Ex. 20:4), are very precise. The God of Exodus puts us on our guard against making images, from a technology that substantially exposes idolatry and reduces the other to something amongst other things. In fact, if we are not careful, the internet itself may become a 'demi-god' discarding or putting aside the God of Revelation.

All in all, the Church is naturally present where humans develop their capacity for knowledge and relationship both vertical as well as horizontal, both with God and with his people on earth. Announcing a message and relationships of communion have always been two of the founding pillars of her being. The task at hand does not have to be how to use the web or the cyber, but how to live Christianity well in the era of the web. Of course, this shows that the web is not a new means of evangelisation but is, above all, a context in which the faith is called to express itself not by a mere willingness to be present, but by the compatibility of Christianity with the lives of human beings (cf. Bera and Meo, Gift  and  Cooperation: a New  Model of Production and Development, 2006, pp. 162-200).

 


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