Virtual Reality Church: Pitfalls and Possibilities (Or How to Think Biblically About Church in Your Pajamas, VR Baptisms, Jesus Avatars, and Whatever Else Is Coming Next)
Theology professors Bock (How Would Jesus Vote?
) and Armstrong argue in this intensive analysis that new and novel technologies, if used properly, can benefit evangelical churches. The authors emphasize that interactive internet-based platforms are tools that, like the Roman roads of Jesus’s time, were built for a secular purpose but can facilitate spreading the gospel. The challenges facing a church that’s meeting virtually, the authors suggest, are largely the same challenges for a church meeting face-to-face—how to properly worship God and encourage others to grow in faithfulness—and the solution is to find renewed ways of connecting believers to the Gospels. Examining how evangelical Christians have used other emerging technology, such as newspapers during the First Great Awakening and 20th-century expansions into radio, television, and film, the authors conclude that virtual environments can facilitate Christian worship and community-building, but will complement, not supercede, in-person meetings. The one serious weak point is the repeated unsupported assertions that real Christian fellowship of mutual encouragement requires in-person interaction. Bock and Armstrong’s measured analysis will be a timely aid to congregations deciding what online activities should be retained when the Covid-19 pandemic recedes. (Mar.)