Newsletter 610 – Anticipating the Future by Looking at the Present

future 2King Saul was not the first person to consult a medium or fortune-teller (1 Samuel 28.) Efforts to predict the future using sorcery and fortune-tellers have been around for centuries and even interest some Christians despite the Bible’s condemnation of these practices. In the church where I grew up, visiting preachers would sometimes conduct prophecy conferences where parts of the Bible, Revelation especially, would be interpreted in ways that seemed to mix biblical exegesis with preacher speculation about current and future events.

Today we take a more secular, quasi-scientific approach. We carefully look at trends in the present and make speculations about how these might play out in the future. Often these predictions are wrong, especially in an era of rapid and unpredictable change. But sometimes we can predict accurately enough to plan ahead wisely. Best example is the predicted development of well-studied diseases. Business magazines and newspapers often give predictions like those in the April 27, 2015 Wall Street Journal where experts made predictions on subjects including small business, the economy, mass marketing, retirement, religion, virtual reality gaming, health care and even sex. Here are three examples that might interest you:

  • “The Internet of the future will be everywhere—and the more people who have it, the more important it will become…. Instead of seeking out the Internet, we’ll be surrounded by it. Instead of extracting data from it, we’ll be fed a constant stream of curated, personalized information to help us solve problems and live better.” If we can strike a balance between caution and convenience, the spread of connected devices will have a profound impact on the way we do just about everything.”
  • What about books including textbooks and other printed communication? It’s likely that reading will always remain but the format will be different. Future books will be more on electronic screens than on paper, despite the tastes of maybe dwindling numbers of bibliophiles (people who avidly read, collect and/or have a great love for books.)
  • Education, especially higher education will survive and thrive but it will continue to change dramatically. Information dumps and the “sage on the stage” will fade further. Teaching methods and models will shift to fit our increasingly digital world. Interaction and on-line activities will increase. Universities that thrive will have no alternative except to do teaching online and offer quality courses. What does this say about long sermons by “talking head” preachers?

Surely you have reactions to this. Please comment.

4 Comments

  1. «What does this say about long sermons by “talking head” preachers?»
    They are already dead in some lands.
    In the most rapidly-spreading Christian movements that I know about, monologue has no place.
    Groups of 3 to 30 read or listing from the Bible, then discuss what they learned from it, deciding together what to do about it.
    Even the poor and the illiterate listen to Scripture and to teaching songs, on their smart phones.
    In my own “teaching” in North American, I invite learners to do the same. They are often amazed at what they themselves find.I then affirm their findings and add a little value.
    Should this trend sound the death knell of abstract theology, then good riddance.

    Reply

  2. I see these predictions more as current realities. The things you mention have been in the process of becoming popular for the past 10 years. They are not mainstream yet, but well on the way for the informed.

    I see the future including things like total government (business intelligence) surveillance and the lack of secrecy. DNA manipulation and the development of super humans. A new single world currency leading to a world government in the pursuit to stamp out Christianity. Perhaps all leading to (or from) a total economic collapse.

    World view thinking will shape how these things will shape the future for our children and grandchildren. Our Christian faith will determine how we react (handle) these changes.

    Reply

  3. What is the sense in my asking for comments if I read them (which, of course I do) and never reply. Thanks Galen, Carol and Bruce. Your comments are excellent. Of course the WSJ issues that I chose were not really cutting edge but I was trying to reach beyond my therapist readers (although until I do a survey I don’t know if most of my readers are counselors.) But I do know that within about two hours I know if I have connected based on the number of responses I get.
    Bruce, of course you are right – the future probably will look very different from what we see at present. Thank God that he ultimately is in control despite some of the stupid, foolish, and sinful things that we humans do.
    And Galen – more power to you in your approach to teaching.
    Carol, I always appreciate book suggestions. As soon as I send this post I plan to check out the “Church Uncorked” book.

    Reply

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