Blessed Is the Internet (Sort Of)
The Internet is an odd contrivance. It digs deep and runs shallow, all at the same time. The technology is modern but the goal is ancient: self-expression of the most diverse kind.
Itís hard for me to imagine that there was a time when the word ďbloggerĒ did not exist. It seems like everyone today has an opinion about everything. Some moderns react vehemently against such morosophic bloviation, but I enjoy the Internetís magniloquence.
For what itís worth, I think the greatest weakness of cyberspace is also its greatest strength: its anthropocentricity. Generally speaking, itís a bad idea to follow any man, even web-savvy reformers. If you will look at the history of the church, you will see that the great reformers did not set out to establish hard-and-fast guidelines for others. They were simply trying to find out how they could give themselves wholly to God without any strings attached. As Karl Barth was fond of saying with regard to his famous Romans commentary, he felt like a man in a dark bell tower, groping to find his way, who had reached out to steady himself and suddenly heard a bell ringing.
Beware, then, the Internet and cyberspace, webmasters and blogosphers. God calls us to relationships in real time, in which we are to find our ministries. I live a fairly mundane life surrounded by different groups of people to whom I desire to minister: my family, my rural farming community, the people of Averett Baptist Church, my seminary students, the believers in Ethiopia, my doctoral candidates. The question I constantly ask myself is, What are their needs, and how can I best serve them? When I have time left over, I blog.
Perhaps because I edit a website myself I am always a little wary of what people say or write. The Bible teaches that all of us, by nature, are basically egotistical, centered in ourselves and sinful. This means that a disciple of the Lord Jesus must be very honest about admitting his own inadequacy, insisting always that Jesus increase while he decreases. True, there needs to be a healthy interdependence among Christians, but never a co-dependence. God alone is the real Teacher, and the Bible alone His textbook.
Of course, I will continue to bloviate as long as I can persuade myself that I am being useful in pointing others to Christ. But to be honest, at any given moment each of us who clicks a mouse realizes that much of what we read (and write) is idle talk. By definition the Internet is opinion. It is when it becomes an impeccable guide that our troubles begin.
So, thereís a place for the Internet, for cyber-conversations, for quibbling and caviling. But in the end we must each go our own way, guided by the only True Light we have.
November 29, 2007
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.