Original Research - Special Collection: Christianity as a Change Agent in the 4th Industrial Revolution World

The black church as the timeless witness to change and paradigm shifts posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Hlulani M. Mdingi
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 2 | a5985 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i2.5985 | © 2020 Hlulani M. Mdingi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 March 2020 | Published: 03 August 2020

About the author(s)

Hlulani M. Mdingi, Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


The current technological and scientific developments of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) signal great leaps in human intellect and creativity. At the crossroad of great steps into the future, a future that will be determined by science and innovation, the smeared bond between theology and science recoils upon theological consideration of human intellect. Black liberation theology has stressed a change in paradigm, which takes oppression, class and intellect seriously. This research seeks to elaborate that a general acceptance of human intellect and science tends to ignore that modern-day science is part of Western civilisation. The Western world view remains dominant in the world. It will be argued that while the 4IR is important, the intellect, politics, economics and need for a 4IR, however, remain synonymous with the need of the West to ‘civilise’ the world. Institutions such as the World Economic Forum are Western institutions and still represent the goals of Western civilisation. This article argues that great leaps in science must be measured by the Christian church’s commitment to eschatology and a building of an egalitarian society on earth. The article seeks to explore if the notion of a black church can be instrumental in the 4IR for focusing on the human condition and humanity of the oppressed in Africa and Latin America. The article argues that the church’s role is to witness great change in society and it must be prepared to actively respond to great societal change posed by the 4IR.

Contribution: This article focuses on theology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as such, cutting across disciplines. This allows engagements to occur in all disciplines, proving the relevance of theology today. The contribution of this research is its emphasis on the role of theology within techno-political development.


4IR; Intellect; Black church; Technology; AI; Black theology


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