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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Teaching the Faith on the Internet

Can all of these new technologies come together and help believers spread the Word? The various technologies of the constant conversation can work to bring our message to the world just as easily as the Pauline letters helped bring Christianity to the Mediterranean.
Long distance communication in Biblical times was through letter writing. We have been blessed with letters to churches written by the Apostle Paul. Within the context of our discussion on the Internet we can ask why Paul wrote the letters in the first place. It’s the same question we confront today, why do people communicate through the Internet. Why use these technologies for communication and what do we wish to accomplish?
For Paul his primary focus for writing the letters was to teach Christian doctrine. In the book of Romans Paul argues that God’s promise to Elijah that there will be a remnant of Jews who have not bowed down to the Baals and will be spared (1 Kings 19:18) is still in force because of God’s grace. Because of God’s grace and because God always fulfills a promise, a remnant of Jews will be spared the final judgment despite refusing to believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 11:1-10). Paul uses biblical prophecy to support his contention that the Jews will somehow experience salvation at the coming Parousia.
The same argument is made on the Christian website On this site is argued the doctrinal principle that the OT prophets predicted the coming of the messiah in the form of Jesus of Nazareth. The creators of the site use the same logic as the Apostle Paul, the great prophets of the past were given messages by God that can and should be used to inform present day audiences as to the veracity of the biblical message. The prophets and prophecies still speak to us today.
Paul most likely sent his letter by currier to the Roman church. The biblical prophecy essay on can be sent to its audience through a variety of methods. In the top right corner of the page is a Share bar with links to the major communication sites across the Web. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google, as well as another 317 different services that can help the writer reach a potential audience. Paul’s audience was fairly small. Today’s potential audience is in the millions. As long as Christian doctrine can be communicated in a way that can be digitalized, Christian doctrine can be disseminated around the world at the click of a computer key.
Today writing the way Paul did is not the only way to spread the doctrine of Jesus Christ across the Internet. In the Letter to the Philippians Paul quotes what most scholars assume is a Christian hymn (Phil 2:6-11). In the hymn Paul says those wonderful words; “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow”. These same words have been repeated many times over the centuries in word and song. Today these words can be recited in a video format.
There is an old hymn by Caroline Noel that has been sung in churches for several hundred years. “At the Name of Jesus” is well known and fondly remembered by older generations. For those who want to relive some of the glory of the traditional protestant worship service, YouTube has a recording of this hymn ready to go. Pipe organ, piano and choir perform this song with gusto. And they help to disseminate the gospel of Jesus Christ as well. Just as Paul uses the hymn to teach his churches about their savior, so do churches all around the world record their services and present them to audiences on YouTube. As of the day I am writing this, over 61,000 people have viewed this ensemble singing to the glory of God. That might not be a large number for popular music videos, but all of those people have been exposed to some of the most wonderful words spoken about Jesus. One would hope that Paul would be pleased about that.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he outlines the resurrection of Jesus Christ for his audience. However, he does it to defend himself and his preaching. The Apostle Paul was guilty of many crimes before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus (1 Cor. 15:9). But he uses this reference to his stirring story to say that the power and success of his ministry comes from God’s grace and not anything that he has done. He was given this message from God, and sent out to preach and teach it from God and as a result belief in this message will lead his audience to salvation (1 Cor. 15:1-2). And so the doctrine of Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins is at the very foundation of the defense of his ministry. Paul is not worthy of God’s great love, and yet Paul was blessed by being one of the few who met Jesus face to face (1 Cor. 15:8). Paul is the example of God’s grace in action.
Today we find the same argument in digitally recorded testimonies. “I Am Second” is a website that offers professionally made video testimonies. Most of the people who appear have some sort of name recognition. Laura Klock holds a motorcycle land speed record and has been on television with her husband. Her video testimony describes an unhappy childhood that led to alcoholism. She then relates how attending church with her husband led her to faith in Jesus Christ. It also led her to the belief that with God’s help she can overcome her addiction.
The video testimonies on “I Am Second” can be sent to Smartphone’s via Facebook. The Internet is becoming fully integrated with hand held devices thus making it easier for Christians to bring the stories of our convictions to our friends and family. Thus the constant conversation that is happening online and on Smartphone’s means we can offer real people telling their stories of God’s victory in their lives. The Church has preached from the very beginning that God can perform miracles in the lives of believers. But preaching is often not enough for many people. Many need to hear basic Christian doctrine told in a simple and powerful way, the true stories of people who have experienced the message that is being preached. The Internet gives Christians an opportunity of spreading our beliefs all around the world through personal testimonies that can be accessed by people with access to a digital connection. This new technology takes the doctrine of the faithful combined with personal experience and delivers a message of light and life to an audience that could never have been reached before.

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