Throughout church history, Christians have used the new technologies of the time to further God’s kingdom. The Internet has been no exception. In this video, blogger and author, Tim Challies, talks about how Christians have used technologies including the Internet and blogs and how they have had both benefits and drawbacks.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
If you go back and look at the long history of the Christian faith in this world, you’ll see that Christians have always been very adept at taking hold of new technologies and using them for the good of others and the glory of God.
Go all the way back to the early church who used a great new technology. It was in some ways a communications technology and it was the Roman roads. This road system that spread all through the world. It had been invented for a very different purpose, to carry trade, to carry soldiers from place to place. The Christians saw it as an opportunity to take missionaries from place to place to communicate the gospel across these roads.
Then, go into the 1400’s and you have the printing press. What happens is Christians take hold of the printing press. And really, through the printing press, this new communications medium, they usher in this Reformation that forever changed the world, and introduced far more people than every before to sound, biblical doctrine.
All through history, Christians have found ways to use new communication, new media, in order to carry out the Great Commission. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing with the Internet. When the Internet came along, Christians were very quick on the scene to say, “How can we use this to serve the Lord? How can we use this to carry out our mission?”
I see blogs as one way that Christians can do that. We can use this relatively new medium to teach, to encourage, to equip other people. We’ve seen all through the Christian world people coming around bloggers, coming around blogs themed around different ideas, finding affinity with one another, sharing truth, sharing books, sharing ideas. And I think it’s been a tremendous blessing in that way.
Yet one of the things we find whenever we study any technology is that every technology comes with benefits and it comes drawbacks. We tend to see the benefits right away and we jump on those and we start to use that medium because of those benefits we see. But over time we learn that there’s also drawbacks. There’s also some negatives that come with the positives.
And one of the negatives we’ve come to learn happens through blogs and through other forms of social media is that we can be very quick to speak and very slow to listen. Or we can really focus on depersonalized communication. So it’s very easy to put thoughts out there and speak of others and yet, in a very detached way so I don’t have to look anybody in the eye. I don’t have to see their face. I don’t have to read their physical reactions as I speak to them.
So one of the fears of life in this online world and communicating through blogs and other social media is that we’ll lose the interpersonal part of communication that’s so important. It’s very easy to criticize somebody when that’s just an abstract entity out there in this kind of fake world called cyber space. Often communication is much better when it’s face to face and we can focus on one another. We can communicate back and forth.
For all the good that’s come through the Internet and through blogs – and there’s been a tremendous amount of it – I do think we have to be very, very cautious about how we use it as well. To do our utmost to ensure we’re emphasizing the great benefits that come, but we’re also doing our best to mitigate the risk and the inevitable drawbacks that come as well.
I think there’s a good future for blogs. Just this idea that anybody can have a voice, can speak to others, can write something that’s of interest to them, and draw other people around those ideas. Yet we’ve got to ensure that we’re doing this in a distinctly Christian way, that we’re emphasizing godly character, love for others, all to the glory of God.