Thursday, April 07, 2011

Rather hokey ten years on

Boiling Point: Monitoring Cultural Shifts in the 21st Century by George Barna and Mark Hatch

"Prediction is very difficult," Niels Bohr allegedly said, "especially about the future." Well, this book aims to predict the future. It was written in 2000, and describes what the world will be like in 2010. And it's kind of hokey. The most obvious thing it fails to predict is 9/11, but it also misses the rise of social media and user-generated content.

The authors do mention terrorism, actually. They talk about electronic terrorism, chemical terrorism and "traditional, violent terrorism, especially at the hands of extreme religious groups" (p. 298). But it's still a far cry from predicting the way that radical Islam has shaped the last decade.

They have some interesting economic predictions: debt fiascos will be exposed in Russia and other "kleptocracies" (p. 277). Well, it hasn't really been Russia, but rather Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. The authors also get all premillennial with electronic money ("a number of respected Christian financial experts" contend that "the emergence of electronic money signals the start of the global system the antiChrist will use to force many into submission", p. 273) and one world government (p. 301) .

I was particularly interested in their predictions in regards to the church scene. They asserted that "at least three major denominations are likely to experience splits during the decade in reaction to the structural, theological and methodological stands of the denomination" (p. 254). Well, the Anglican Church in North America is an obvious fulfillment of this, but there aren't really any others, unless one counts Grace Presbyterian Church in New Zealand.

They also predict that "dozens of church association" will emerge, and that "it will not be uncommon for churches to trumpet their affiliation with such associations rather than their connection to old-line denominations." The rise of the church networks is an important feature of the current Christian scene. It is certainly the case that some congregations are affiliated with a church network and a denominations,
(Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, for example, is affiliated with both Acts 29 and the Southern Baptist Convention) but I'm not sure how many churches are "trumpeting" their association with a church network at the expense of their denominational affiliations.

The book is an interesting read, and provides food for thought. The authors are to be congratulated for their insight in many areas, and their courage in having a go at predicting the future. It makes one wonder what the world will be like in 2020.

1 comment:

Gary Ware said...

Interesting too, in view of Barna's transition from observer of trends to openly championing the house church movement.
I'd have guessed the three denominations they had in mind to split may have been the Episcopalians, the Lutherans and maybe the Southern Baptists.
Predicting that reformed/presbyterian churches would split is like shooting fish in a barrell.
You'd go out on limb by predicting that ten years would pass without a division.