Certainly, this need will not arise from any change in God. Consistent with Christianity’s most basic tenets, we can anticipate that God will continue on just as is.
Why then this bold statement? Why the need for change?
Christian conceptions will need change because humanity changes.
God – to the degree and manner such a deity exists, and not withstanding God’s creation and incursions into our actuality – God exists fundamentally as a transcendental existence, “residing” outside our time and space. God thus lies beyond our full comprehension and understanding, i.e. humanity can not conceive God completely.
Rather, we understand God only within the christian mysticism churches boundaries of existing thought, experience and knowledge. Given that humanity constantly seeks to, and does, broaden and deepen those boundaries, that broadening and deepening creates a necessity to alter, and also offers an opportunity to improve, our conception of God and religion.
Past Evolution of God and Religious Conceptions
I have set a high bar, i.e. demonstrating what expansions of human understanding challenge Christian conceptions. But first let’s look backward. Change in religious conceptions would not be ground-breaking; multiple and significant changes in religious conceptions have occurred in the past.
Polytheism to Monotheism – In antiquity, polytheism served as a mainstream, if not the mainstream, religious belief structure. The great cultures of Samaria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, among others, all developed extensive, and intricate, theistic systems of multiple gods, with each god exhibiting defined and differing powers and attributes, and reflecting different human or natural characteristics. These belief systems drove daily rituals, communal services and civic construction, among other activities, and became central components of the culture.
Today, in Western and Near East cultures, monotheism has clearly displaced those ancient belief systems. The prophecy, life and teachings of Abraham, Jesus and Mohammad have spawned the dominant, and monotheistic, religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Certainly the conception of the single God differs across these three (for example in the status of Christ, and in what texts represent revelations from God), but these religions represent clear and distinct breaks from former polytheism.
Separation of Governance from Religion – From the dawn of religious belief, up through the Middle Ages, the kings, emperors and pharaohs of many and various countries in the Mediterranean and Europe possessed God-privileged status. Such leaders stood as a god themselves, or held power by grant of a god, or could become a god upon death, or received guidance from a god, or otherwise held a special status in the eyes of a god.
That linkage, between a god and a ruler, has by and large been replaced. Many, if not most, modern nation states in the West provide for distinct separation of Church and state, as a founding constitutional principle. Even where a nation maintains a state religion, political power in most cases resides with secular forces, be that the vote of the people, or power of the army, or will of an autocratic leader, or the economic interest of the wealthy, or other worldly origin.
Decline of Direct Animal Sacrifice – Whether an adoption from pagan practices, or a ritual prescribed by revelation, or a symbolic substitution for human cleansing, animal sacrifice arose as a common and central religious and cultural practice in the ancient world. Religious services and communal meals involved, when and as dictated by custom or prescription, specific procedures for killing, offering and consuming sacrificial animals.