"If the church truly believes that the Bible holds the power to change lives, then we must make it a priority to introduce Netizens to this wonderful book. At the same time, we must understand that our much-loved "Good Book" must be transformed. It must be released from the tyranny of the printed page to reach a wired, digitized, hyper-connected world. It won't be easy for a church conditioned by hundreds of years of word-based Christianity. While our postmodern culture celebrates the "triumph of the image" over the written word, the traditional church is mired in Enlightenment-era rationality, a world in which the word was the primary unit of cultural currency. Granted, much online communication is textual, but it is a different kind of text-based communication than the church is accustomed to.
Charles Henderson, the organizing pastor for the First Church of Cyberspace, said that 'The worst possible approach to the Holy Scriptures is to read it in one uninterrupted, linear progression from start to finish. It is far preferable to wander in circular patterns in and around and through its varied poetry, history, saga, parable and story. As one does so, one finds that one passage plays itself off against another, though they were written hundreds of years apart by people who spoke entirely different languages. And as one threads a path through the text, one finds that its images and ideas emerge and play off against each other and against the situation in which one is living.'[Charles Henderson, "The Emerging Faith Communities of Cyberspace",Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine, March 1997.] The Internet is truly a liberating medium. It makes scripture -- and therefore God -- more accessible to a culture alienated from traditional Christianity. This is a "virtual" return to the pre-literate society at the time of Christianity's founding. Christian gatherings on the Internet bear more resemblance to the primitive church's house meetings than to the regimented weekly services of most Protestant denominations."
(Andrew Careaga is the author of E-vangelism: Sharing the Gospel
in Cyberspace, Vital Issues Press,1999. He is also a youth pastor at
Salem Faith Assembly Church in Salem, Missouri.
He is currently at work on a new book, Digital Discipleship: Ministering
to the Internet Generation, from which this article is adapted. He can
be reached at
and his Web site, www.e-vangelism.com)