There is little doubt that we are living in a “digital age,” an age characterized by a move to the virtual and the electronic. The COVID-19 pandemic simply accelerated this trajectory to the point of no return. From an ecclesial perspective, parishes are equipped to live-stream their liturgies, and the need for a functioning and updated website has never been greater. From an academic perspective, virtual learning has become mainstream, along with conferences and webinars that scholars can participate in from the comfort of their home. Amidst the flurry of these innovations, one shift has remained under the radar: the role of theological education in the Digital Age.
Since its genesis, Christianity has embraced the media necessary for effective communication. This is why, for example, St. Paul wrote letters to various church communities to convey his message as opposed to painting pictures on the walls of a cave. From writing letters to composing dense theological treatises, to radio and television, to our days of the Internet, Christian leaders have found it necessary to utilize the best forms of communication in order to spread the Good News. But the democratization of the Internet—the fact that anyone can publish a blog or upload a video—has had unfortunate consequences for theological education. While there have always been false teachers, never before have such teachers been able to reach millions of souls in seconds.
This special youth submission was originally a speech delivered at the 2018 St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival hosted by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The speech was delivered in response to the prompt: “Christ said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9). The Lord said this with reference to the way we hear the word of God. What is our response?”
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Obviously, it is quite easy to identify the source of irony in this quote: We all have ears don’t we? So we should all be able to hear the word of God. This is often on the contrary, as today more so than ever it is harder to hear and revel in God’s word cogently. In order for us to be able to soak in Jesus’ teachings to the same extent as devout followers were able to thousands of years ago, we must be all the more aware and committed. We live in a world full of seemingly endless knowledge and opinions that have the potential to distract us from God’s simple message, while in Christ’s time, there was a seemingly definite wrong and right (in other words, the existence of a gray zone was negligible). It is harder for us to hear God’s word with the same conviction because our minds are so cluttered with the noise of physical society. That’s not to say that knowledge is bad—much of human discovery has allowed us to understand the world more complexly—but we have to change the way we think and hear the word of God in order for it to resonate with us.
God’s word is universal, both in its meaning and its adaptability, which has allowed for its longevity. Continue Reading…