The Flip Side

Duncan Johnson made a valid comment on a recent post. The Internet may be an opiate for the people, but that’s not the whole story. So here’s something on the flip side.

I recently attended a large evangelical-ish church while on vacation (and limited by snow from going elsewhere). It was a part of the Churches of Christ, a group known for its belief in baptismal regeneration. But I wouldn’t have been able to tell that very well from anything I was told or handed, because its more important identity was that of a mega-church of the standard American variety. A praise team opened the service with a 15-minute set, singing praise and worship as we all stood, many silently. Then we got a two-minute meditation (not too bad; he mostly just read the Scripture). And then communion was handed out—but perfunctorily, with no explanation of what was going on. I declined it.

Then the teaching pastor got up to speak. To be honest, he was a good speaker. Easy to listen to. He didn’t look as cool as the stereotype. No soul patch. And he lasted over 30 minutes—though he did say a few things like, “Jesus doesn’t roll with that.”

He didn’t stay very close to his text, but he did make some good, well-worded points. And then came the shocker. The pastor, despite this being a Church of Christ, quoted Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll in his sermon. He quoted no one else by name.

I immediately thought, “The Internet is doing something good.” This is a guy who would have no denominational reasons that I know of to seek out exegesis-toting Calvinists. Whatever else Keller and Driscoll are (and I tend to find a lot more help in the former than in the latter), they are that. And 20 years ago, I wonder if anything written by people like them would have even found its way into his hands. But the Internet has changed things. Good material is readily available to anyone who lands in that particular province of the blogosphere.

And check out this church I ran across: it’s Mennonite, but look at who is influencing the pastor. His articles page features Piper, Frame, Challies, DeYoung, and Priolo, and his recommended reading list looks like a bestseller list from the Young, Restless, and Reformed bookstore.

I consider this kind of influence to be a good thing, despite all the evil the Internet has sludged into our culture. And I am partly a product of that influence. I write this blog with wise words ringing in my ears all the time, words I wouldn’t have heard myself but for the Internet:

Instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can. —John Piper

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

5 thoughts on “The Flip Side”

  1. One more thing, although perhaps this should go on the earlier post instead.

    These two posts are especially interesting in light of the government of Egypt’s move to cut off internet access to the entire nation. I don’t really understand the politics involved, of course, but it’s hard to see how this action can really contribute to the propagation of democratic freedom or ultimate truth:
    http://krebsonsecurity.com/2011/01/egypt-unplugged-from-the-internet/

  2. Yes, I have found it interesting that the nascent revolutions (?) in both Tunisia and Egypt hit the news after that first post—and in each case, NPR at least has quoted more experts who point to the Internet and social media as key factors in the foment.

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