If Luther were alive today, I believe he would be embracing the ‘Internet’ with characteristic zeal. The Internet is a sophisticated network of computers that enables its users to exchange files, images and even music via the world’s telephone network. It provides the means to communicate effectively with millions of people all over the globe. Just like the printing press, some of its output is less than edifying. The Internet has sometimes been demonized by the media as an anarchic underworld of pornography and paedophilia. It is true that there is pornography on the Internet, but this is no reason to outlaw this new and exciting medium. The existence of pornographic books does not prompt us to dispense with books. Just as responsible parents can monitor the books their children read, so also they can control the material they access on the Internet.
So what use is the Internet to the Christian? Firstly, there are many web sites (both graphical and text pages) that are dedicated to helping Christians. An example is that maintained by the Belvidere Church in Liverpool. It is an attractively produced site providing much that is of interest to non-Christians as well as Christians. The site also contains complete digitized sermons by Pastor Stuart Olyott. The Evangelical Times web site offers several years of ET articles and reviews, all of which can be searched for by title, author or key-words. This makes it easy to locate all articles relating to a given topic, for example.
Secondly, there are many well-established biblical resources on the Internet. Many of Calvin’s commentaries are available, as well as a searchable version of the Authorised Version and sermons by well-known preachers. Searches are easily carried out, and new material is added on a daily basis.
Thirdly, churches can use the web to encourage people to attend their local church. Nearly all university students have Internet access, and if the church does its job, those who consult the Internet will find their way to an evangelical church rather than to their local Kingdom Hall!
Finally, email enables Christians to maintain contact across the world, and to enter into useful discussions with one another. Contacting missionaries through the Internet is already a reality. But please be warned: the Internet is not a ‘closed’ network, and messages can be intercepted by anyone with the necessary technical expertise. Internet access is possible through any computer with a modem. Perhaps it’s time to get connected!