Today’s cultural language is digitality. Gen Zers or post-millennials, millennials, and Gen Alpha consider digitality a part of everyday living. Indeed, theologians and digital scholars, such as Heidi Campbell of Texas A&M, John Dyer, Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary, and Teresa Berger of Yale Divinity School, argue that online and offline are now interwoven in our lives. In an extensive survey for Digital Report 2023, We Are Social and Meltwater present that out of the 8.01 billion population in the world, 68% or 5.44 billion people are internet, mobile phone, and social media users as of January 2023. What does this mean to evangelicals?
The paper explores a decade of research on the intersection of theology and digital technology. Specifically, the focus is on the theology of digital anthropology, avatars, embodiment, and virtual realities. Moreover, grounding in Daniel Darling’s challenge to reclaim the dignity of humanity, the paper contends for a critical engagement of the Evangelical churches in cyberspace and digital worlds.
Initially, a snapshot of the church’s part in the development of revolutionary technology in the light of providentialism gives a necessary backdrop. The providentialist view offers: 1) in Creation, humanity as the image of God as co-creator utilizes technology as part of “creating”; 2) in Fall, humanity as a corrupted image creates and spreads malice even through technological development (e.g., Tower of Babel); 3) in Redemption, God in Christ restores his people including their function to channel divine wisdom and creativity for human flourishment; 4) in Eschatology, Christians are the eschatological companions of God.
Finally, the church’s role in recovering and engaging human sexuality, embodiment, and dignity advances the hope for an objective view of theological anthropology in the digital realm. Issues about pornography, cyberbullying, online human trafficking, cancel culture, ecclesial challenges on online worship, virtual reality churches, and Gnostic accusations on digital church engagement urge the church to act. The paper concludes that an orthodox view of theological anthropology shapes digital culture.