In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo waxes eloquent on the decline of cathedrals and of their impact on Christianity. Claude Frollo, the archdeacon of the cathedral, points to a book, then to Notre Dame, and predicts, “This will replace that.” As new printing technologies made the written word more accessible, books would supplant churches as the primary means by which everyday people encountered God.
His prediction came true. Cathedrals were built not only to house teaching and worship, but to proclaim the gospel and convey doctrine, theology and Scripture. Now we use other technological means to do the same. In Hugo’s day, the primary means was the book. Today it’s the blog, the podcast, Twitter and Instagram.