Skype Interview: Stephen Holmes on the Church-Technology Intersection


"I'm an ordained geek, I guess," says a Scottish theologian of why he cares about the church and technology.

Stephen Holmes, senior lecturer in theology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, has a background that includes both Cambridge physics and Spurgeon's College theology. He has worked in the local church and still does so. And now he's talking with EthicsDaily.com in a new Skype interview about the intersection of church and technology.

Skype Interview: Stephen Holmes from EthicsDaily on Vimeo.

"I care about churches," says Holmes. "Before I took my current academic post, I was trained for Baptist ministry. I was ordained and served the church, and I've never lost that passion for the local church."

Holmes says church folks, like others, often misunderstand the truly transformative power of technology.

"Often, when we see a new technology, we think it's a good way of doing something we're already doing, but perhaps faster or slightly better," says Holmes, citing how computers and cellphones caught on.

But the personal computer, he says, really changed the culture not because of its word-processing capability (nice though it was), but because of the spreadsheet.

"It was the fact that you could do your accounts in a completely new way," says Holmes, "and it transformed your possibilities."

He points out that churches are sometimes "behind the curve" because they rightly question new technologies.

"We tend to, for good reasons often, we tend to ask, 'Is this right? Can we do this new thing?'"

Holmes goes on to give examples of how churches and church folks are successfully and meaningfully employing new technologies, like Twitter.

He also speculates on how technology's future will continue to impact the church, and he provocatively suggests it will have something to do with "accountable relationships."

Watch the interview with Holmes at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily/skype-stephenholmes

Visit Stephen Holmes online at st-andrews.ac.uk/divinity/rt/staff/sh80/

Watch other EthicsDaily.com Skype interviews at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily

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