"Christians and the Internet" newsletter CATI, Vol. 1, No. 3: January 21, 2000.
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at email@example.com. Permission is hereby granted, however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1) no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety. To subscribe, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, including "Subscribe to CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent. (To be removed from the emailing list, also write to email@example.com, but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.) _______________________________________________________________
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. WELCOME FROM YOUR FRIENDLY EDITOR, BARRY TRAVER 2. A LITTLE MORE ON MP3 FILES AND ON EMAIL HOAXES 3. MORE CHRISTIAN WEB SITES, THIS TIME WITH COMMENTS 4. FAMILY-SAFE INTERNET: AN IMPORTANT STARTING POINT 5. SOME USES OF EMAIL FOR CHURCHES AND INDIVIDUALS 6. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR FREE NEWSLETTER ________________________________________________________________
1. WELCOME FROM YOUR FRIENDLY EDITOR, BARRY TRAVER
Welcome to another issue of "CATI," a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI" is pronounced "Katy," but is spelled with a "C" for "Christians" and an "I" for "Internet").
For those who received the earlier issues, you'll notice that there's been some renumbering: the original sample newsletter is now Vol. 1, No. 1, and what was described before as the first "regular" issue is now Vol. 1, No. 2, making this issue Vol. 1, No. 3.
Why the change? Two reasons. First, the sample newsletter did not deserve secondary status. For example, its article on "Some Christian Web Sites" was useful enough that the sample issue is worthy of being considered the first "official" issue of CATI. Second, the renumbering is more logical if present plans for CATI are able to be realized.
What are the present plans? I hope to publish CATI news on a weekly basis (D.V., which stands for "Deo Volente," meaning "God willing" -- see James 4:13-15), ordinarily on Friday or Saturday. Individual issues can thus be briefer (easier to digest) and more timely (since Web sites change).
Future plans include making past issues available on the Web and perhaps having a Web site (including a bulletin board or discussion group area) specifically devoted to CATI, but the priority right now is getting CATI out on a regular basis with useful and interesting content.
At any rate, 52 issues are planned for the year 2000, from Vol. 1, No. 1, to Vol. 1, No. 52, if all goes well. That will provide an opportunity to cover a wide variety of topics related to "Christians And The Internet," all communicated in bite-size (or should that be byte-size?) pieces.
If you have suggestions as to subjects or items that might be covered or included in future issues, please pass them along. CATI is intended for your benefit, and you can be involved by contributing your thoughts and ideas from time to time as appropriate.
By the way, when I make use of suggestions or contributions by subscribers, I do not mention a subscriber by name unless I have gotten explicit permission in advance to do so. Even though I make it a point to know subscribers' real names as well as their email addresses, such information is regarded as private and will not be shared or published unless approval is specifically given (as was done by CATI subscriber Mark Mondl for the previous issue and CATI subscribers Dave Rastetter and Bill Slack for this issue, as you'll see in a moment).
--Barry Traver, Editor ________________________________________________________________
2. A LITTLE MORE ON MP3 FILES AND ON EMAIL HOAXES
The previous issue of CATI included an article on "THE MP3 MUSIC REVOLUTION ON THE INTERNET: THE BASICS," but I failed to mention that MP3 is useful for the spoken word as well. For example, you can get the New York Times Audio Digest in MP3 format. Check this page for the details:
I also got the following interesting email message from CATI subscriber Dave Rastetter:
"Cati Guy: Hi, I have been to the 'Renewing Your Mind' on line at http://www.gospelcom.net/ligonier/ . They have some great studies in MP3 format. This is what I have done: I bought all the "Chosen by God" MP3's, 6, 20-30 minutes each. That came to $6.00; then on the same site I bought the study guide for $4.00. That comes to $10.00, whereas the audio series and study guide would have came to $18.00. It's taking less than 15 min. to download each MP3."
The following are available at the R.C. Sproul site in MP3 format:
Abortion Battle for Our Minds A Blueprint for Thinking Chosen by God Christian Worldview The Consequences of Ideas The Cross of Christ Great Men and Women of the Bible Hath God Said? Heaven Hell Holiness of God The Holy Spirit The Majesty of Christ The Providence of God Themes from Ecclesiastes
Even when MP3 files aren't free, they can save you money!
Here's another thought about MP3 files: a pastor can record his sermons, convert them to MP3 format (the MP3 books I mentioned in the previous issue of CATI give the details), and make them available to his congregation or to others. They can be put on a church Web page or on a floppy disk.
If he or the church has access to a CD-Writer (a computer gadget costing, say, $300 that allows you to make your own CD-ROMs), he could put a couple dozen sermons on a single CD-ROM (and blank CD-ROMs cost $1.00 or less each when bought in bulk) if the sermons are in MP3 format. One drawback: a person needs a computer to play the MP3 files. (If you want, however, you could convert the files into WAV format and use the same equipment to make a regular audio CD, again costing $1.00 or less, but since an audio CD requires WAV format, that means you have only 74 minutes to work with and can put only two or three sermons on a single audio CD.)
The previous issue of CATI also included an article on "'IT TAKES GUTS TO SAY "JESUS"' AND OTHER EMAIL HOAXES," and CATI subscriber Bill Slack reminded me that another popular email hoax is the idea that Procter and Gamble are involved in some sort of Satanic conspiracy, supporting the Church of Satan. (They aren't.) Here are some places you can check out more on this particular email hoax:
So continue to be on your guard against falsehoods that may appear in your emailbox (and don't pass along warning letters without being sure of the facts!). ________________________________________________________________
3. MORE CHRISTIAN WEB SITES, THIS TIME WITH COMMENTS
Vol. 1, No. 1 of CATI presented a list of "Some Christian Web Sites," more than one hundred, with no comments, but with this disclaimer:
"Following you'll find a list of Christian Web sites, some of which you may like to check out further. Some of the sites on the list are 'Reformed' in perspective; others are more broadly evangelical in viewpoint. Obviously, this list is not a complete list of Christian Web sites, nor does inclusion of a particular Web site on the list necessarily imply endorsement of that site."
Well, here are forty or so additional Christian Web sites, this time with brief comments, but with the same disclaimer. It is again hoped, however, that you will find some sites that may be of interest to you that you may not have seen before.
A 21st Century Puritanism http://www.kcnet.com/~puritan/ (Mitch Cervinka, a self-described "21st Century Puritan," has put together a wealth of information, including sections for articles and books, information on conferences, and favorite links, such as links to Christian sites that use RealAudio)
Abate Not: Reformed Christian and Reformation Resources http://members.aol.com/mariostz/christian/ (describing itself as the "'Central Station' for locating Reformed Christian Resources," this site claims to be "the most comprehensive Listing of Reformed Resources on the Internet"; a choice of frames or no frames is offered)
Abortion and the Christian by John Jefferson Davis http://members.aol.com/CPLBO/AbortionandtheXian.toc.html (the entire book by a Theology Professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)
Association of Classical & Christian Schools http://www.accsedu.org/ (Christian schools with a "classical" approach incorporating the "Trivium" -- grammar, logic, and rhetoric -- see also Classical Christian Schooling Network link below for similar approach)
Audio Bible Online (KJV) http://www.audio-bible.com/bible/bible.html (listen in RealAudio to the King James Version narrated by Alexander Scourby; see RealAudio Bible below for NIV)
Awesome Christian Sites (Cross Daily) http://awesome.crossdaily.com/ (an "awesome" list of Christian sites -- some "Reformed," many not -- in such categories as arts & entertainment, Bible & reference, businesses & shopping, churches & denominations, computers & internet, education, family & individual, history & politics, ministries & organizations, missions & evangelism, music & media, pastoral & church, personal pages, publishing, recreation, regional & non-English, and theology & apologetics)
The Banner of Truth http://www.banneroftruth.co.uk/ (at this site you'll find not only information about Puritan and Reformed books published by them, but also interesting articles from Banner of Truth magazine)
Bethany Christian Services http://www.bethany.org/ (Bethany is an organization providing Christian services relating to domestic adoption, international services, education, unplanned pregnancies, infertility ministry, and more)
Bible Study Tools http://www.biblestudytools.net/ (Crossway.com presents a mixed bag of Bible study tools from different theological perspectives and of varying degrees of helpfulness; note also noticeable absence of NIV, although KJV, NASB, and NKJV are all represented; still, some of the resources are useful)
Blue Letter Bible http://www.khouse.org/blueletter/ (Set book, chap., and verse, click on "Go to Bible," scroll down to verse, and click on "Conc." for Strong's Concordance and Hebrew or Greek interlinear; Matthew Henry commentary and other resources also available on site)
BrightLight Books http://www.brightlightbooks.com/ ("specializing in the buying and selling of new, used, and out-of-print Christian Theological books")
Children's Ministry International, Inc. http://www.childministry.com/ (excellent source of teaching materials for home, church, or school based on the popular "Catechism for Young Children," starting out like this: "Who made you?" "God." "What else did God make?" "God made all things.")
C.H. Spurgeon: An Audio Archive http://www.mountzion.org/spurgeon.html (listen to selected Spurgeon sermons from 1855 to 1860 in RealAudio read by Charles Koelsch; you can also listen to Sinclair Ferguson at http://www.mountzion.org/audio.html on the same site)
ChristianityToday.com http://www.christianityonline.com/ct/current/print.html and http://www.christianityonline.com/ct/current/ (not as conservative as when edited by Carl F.H. Henry, "CT" still has some worthwhile articles from time to time; click on "ARCHIVES" near top of page at the latter address for previous issues)
Classical Christian Schooling Network http://www.ccsnet.org/ (although similar in outlook to the Association of Classical & Christian Schools mentioned elsewhere in this list, CCSN's Web site offers extensive links to related resources; for somewhat different approaches to Christian schooling, see the links to two other organizations of Christian schools, American Association of Christian Schools and Christian Schools International in the article "Some Christian Web Sites" in CATI, Vol. 1, No. 1)
CrossSearch http://www.crosssearch.com/ (search for Christian Web sites, some "Reformed," many not, by using their search engine or by exploring the following categories: apologetics, art, Bible, children's resources, church and denominational resources, computers, counseling, history, humor, literature, media, ministry resources, music, news and events, pastoral resources, prayer, prophecy, publishing, recreation, shopping resources, theology, and youth resources)
Crosswalk.com http://www.crosswalk.com/ (a collection of Christian resources of varying evangelical perspectives, some on-site and some off-site, including these categories in information and entertainment: Bible study [as mentioned elsewhere on this CATI list], careers, directory, families, health & wellness, homeschooling, men, money, news, search, shareware, spiritual life, Webcast guide, women, and events, games, MovieGuide, music, radio, shopping, sports, and travel, not to mention various "community" items, such as chat, email account, forums, greeting cards, and free email newsletters; the outlook is broadly evangelical)
Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service http://www.cvbbs.com/ ("Reformed and Puritan books at affordable prices"; check http://www.cvbbs.com/inetspecial.htm for "This Week's Internet Special")
Cyber Hymnal http://tch.simplenet.com/ ("over 2,000 Christian hymns and Gospel songs from many denominations ... lyrics, scores, MIDI files, pictures, history, and more")
Favorite Hymns http://www.kcnet.com/~puritan/hymns.htm (words and music in easy-to-use framed format with choice of menus arranged by title or first line, order of Psalm, name of tune, name of author, or order in Trinity Hymnal)
Gateway to Joy (Elizabeth Elliot) http://www.gospelcom.net/bttb/gateway/core.html (the official Web site for the radio program, including a daily devotional and transcripts of programs, present and past)
Global Journal of Classical Theology http://www.trinitysem.edu/journal/journalmain.html ("An International Journal in the Classic Reformation and Evangelical Traditions," edited by John Warwick Montgomery)
Grace to You (John MacArthur) http://www.gty.org/ (the official Web site for the popular Bible-teacher and author John MacArthur; for The Master's Seminary, go to http://www.tms.edu , and for The Master's Seminary Journal, go to http://www.tms.edu/journal.htm )
A Guide to Christian Literature on the Internet http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/christian-books.html#books [part of ICLnet, "This document contains pointers to internet accessible literature related to Classical Christianity (a term coined by C.S. Lewis to describe a theology which affirms the importance of a transforming faith in Christ as God and Savior)]
A Guide to Christian Resources on the Internet http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/christian-resources.html (like the preceding, this is "part of a series of ICLnet Christian guides, provided for internet users interested in resources related to Classical Christianity"; for the home page of ICLnet or "Internet Christian Library," go to http://www.iclnet.org/)
Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship http://www.ibcd.org/ (directed by Dr. George Scipione," IBCD was earlier known as "CCEF-West" and continues in that tradition of Biblical or "Nouthetic" counseling associated with Jay Adams and others)
Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-cvinst.html (the Reformation classic in the not-so-"new" mid-19th-century but still readable translation by Henry Beveridge; look at http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/institutes/institutes.html for an introduction by John Murray of Westminster Seminary)
Internet for Christians (Quentin J. Schultze) http://www.gospelcom.net/ifc/ (this site includes FAQs or "Frequently Asked Questions" from chapter 1 of Quentin Schultze's book Internet for Christians, a section on "Internet Sources," and his biweekly newsletter -- see http://www.gospelcom.net/ifc/past/ for archives of the past five years!)
John Newton http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pointe/4495/index2.html ("The Life, Conversion and the Theology of John Newton," the author of the hymn "Amazing Grace"; for the text of his "Olney Hymns," which he co-authored with William Cowper, author of "There Is a Fountain FIlled with Blood," see http://www.ccel.org/n/newton/olneyhymns/olneyhymns/TOC.htm .)
John Owen: Puritan Prince of the Divines http://www.theocentric.com/johnowen/ (a Web site devoted to one who has been called "the greatest Puritan theologican," admired by Jerry Bridges, Sinclair Ferguson, J.I. Packer, and others)
Judy Rogers http://www.judyrogers.com/ ("Christian recording artist, Judy Rogers, heard world wide, features adult contemporary, children's music and praise and worship"; commended by R.C. Sproul and Jay Adams; if you go to http://www.judyrogers.com/sound.htm you can hear five full songs plus shorter clips in RealAudio format)
Just Moms http://www.justmoms.com/ ("Just Moms offers a variety of Online features for Christian Mothers such as a daily Bible Study, Prayer & Praises, Support Boards, Chat Room and a Searchable Members Database where mothers can find another mother that has similar interests")
Modern Reformation http://www.alliancenet.org/pub/mr/mr.html (Modern Reformation is a publication associated with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals; you can consult online not only the current issue, but also past issues from 1992 to 1999 in the archives)
National Association of Nouthetic Counselors http://www.nanc.org/ (NANC is "a fellowship of Christian pastors and laymen who have banded together to promote biblical counseling"; the site includes an online directory of about 180 Biblical counselors, including Jay Adams, Howard Eyrich, Wayne Mack, and George Scipione)
Pilgrim's Page: A John Bunyan Archive http://www.mountzion.org/bunyan.html (here you'll find in text and RTF or "Rich Text Format" the works of Puritan preacher John Bunyan, author of the classic and ever-popular Pilgrim's Progress)
Piper's Notes http://www.soundofgrace.com/piper.htm (available at this site is a collection of sermons by John Piper, author of the book Desiring God, and the collection goes from the present back to 1980!)
Probe Ministries http://www.probe.org/ (Probe is described as "Christian scholars ... analyzing and challenging contemporary culture ... presenting reasoned Biblical information ... influencing the culture for Christ")
RealAudio Bible (NIV) http://www.talkingbible.com/ (listen to the New International Version in RealAudio using different voices; see Audio Bible Online above for KJV)
Scottish Preachers http://www.newble.co.uk/hall/ (links to sermons and writings by Scottish preachers, past and present, including Horatius Bonar, Thomas Boston, Sinclair Ferguson, John Knox, Robert Murray M'Cheyne, John Murray, Samuel Rutherford, Alexander Whyte, and John Witherspoon)
Sound Word Associates, Ltd. http://www.soundword.com/ ("over 10,000 audio and video tape resources from classics to contemporary studies," including l'Abri Fellowship, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and C.S. Lewis Institute audio tapes and National Association of Nouthetic Counselors and l'Abri Fellowship videos)
Spirit-Wars (Peter Jones) http://www.spirit-wars.com/ (this Web site includes an "online library" of some articles by Dr. Peter Jones, Professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary in California; for some comments on his two books The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back and Winning the Spirit Wars, see http://www.ibcd.org/breviews.html .)
Telling the Truth by Marvin Olasky http://www.worldmag.com/world/olasky/truth1.html (the entire book on "How to Revitalize Christian Journalism" by the current editor of World magazine)
Web Devotions http://www.farese.com/webdev.htm (links to about 25 daily devotionals, including NIV Quiet Time Bible and Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Daily Readings)
Westminster Shorter Catechism Project http://bpc.org/wsc/ (thanks go to the Bible Presbyterian Church for this amazing online resource for the WSC; read any question and click on any of the "Further links concerning this catechism question" to see what I mean!)
www.francis.schaeffer.net http://www.francis.schaeffer.net/ (although not extensive, this site includes some interesting material, including a five-part introduction in RealAudio format to the life and thought of Francis Schaeffer)
A number of these sites provide sound clips in RealAudio. If you have not yet installed the necessary software on your computer, the following links should be helpful to you:
Be careful when downloading: RealPlayer 7 Basic is the free player and all you need, so don't download RealPlayer 7 Plus instead unless you want to spend $29.95 on the fuller and fancier version.
In future issues of CATI the plan is to include some comments on the Christian Web sites on the list in Vol. 1, No. 1 of CATI (plus other interesting sites not mentioned yet here). ________________________________________________________________
4. FAMILY-SAFE INTERNET: AN IMPORTANT STARTING POINT
In an article on "FAMILY-SAFE INTERNET" in Vol. 1, No. 2 of CATI, I suggested that parents could use a filtering ISP (or Internet Service Provider) and/or special software to monitor or filter interaction with the Internet. I want to back up and say that the most important factor related to bringing about a family-safe Internet is neither of choosing the right ISP nor choosing the right software, but of understanding one's responsibilities as a parent to be involved in the lives of our children.
While I was a student at Westminster Seminary, one thing I learned from Paul Woolley, Professor of Church History, was that the responsibility for training children is not that of the state nor that of the church nor that of the Christian school, but that of the parents (Deuteronomy 6:4-7; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4). (I think he also expressed that view in a booklet dealing with Family, Church, and State.)
Coming to terms with our parental responsibilities thus means much more than turning our child over to a "Cybersitter" or "safeplace.net." Just as a babysitter may at best take our place temporarily, so also in the world of the Internet there is no true substitute for caring parents.
So don't use the Internet as a babysitter. That's no better than sitting your child down in front of a television set for the same purpose. Even though their involvement may be both monitored and filtered (by software and/or an ISP), your children need more than that. They need you.
What can you do? Talk with them about the Internet, both the benefits and the risks. Spend time with them while they are on the Internet. Set up rules and understandings to be followed whenever they are on the Internet when you are not there with them (such as not to give out any personal information, such as phone number or address, without checking with you). Have the computer in a room where there is heavy traffic, people coming in and out continually (rather than in a private bedroom). In short, take time to be involved in the life of your children, here as elsewhere.
A secondary thought: you may need to make your own rules about what Web sites it is appropriate or not appropriate for your children to visit. It may or may not be true currently, but there was a point where CyberPatrol prevented children from visiting Donald Wildmon's American Family Affiliation site (on the supposition that it was a "hate" site, since it taught that the gay lifestyle was morally wrong), but allowed children to visit Web sites that were promoting acceptance of a gay/lesbian lifestyle (on the supposition that "tolerance" is in itself a virtue)!
Here is an instance where the Bible disagrees with the kid-safe software (see Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26-27). Thus Christian parents may need to supersede the guidelines normally followed by CyberPatrol or other software. Depending on the product, you may be able to add sites to or remove sites from their list of prohibited sites. My main point, however, is simply this: that parents make the best parents.
To be sure, parents can make very good use of monitoring and filtering software and/or ISPs that filter Internet content. I'm not arguing that you not make use of such, if such is helpful to you. I'm just arguing that parents are the most important factor in building a "family-safe Internet," and that is true of those times when the child is off the computer as well as on. That's the role God has given you! ________________________________________________________________
5. SOME USES OF EMAIL FOR CHURCHES AND INDIVIDUALS
The Internet is simply a way in which we can be "connected" with one another. Just as we use the telephone to keep in touch with one another, say, between Sundays (or meetings of various church groups), so also email can be an important supplementary way for us to stay "in touch."
Here are a couple of examples from my own congregation.
In addition to having a telephone prayer chain (to make people aware of special needs during the week), so also we have an email prayer chain (since -- as is the case with many other congregations -- over half of the members of our congregation are able to receive email).
Similarly, the contents of the church bulletin (in plain text format) are sent to members, both to help them prepare for Sunday services and to let them know in advance of special planned events and prayer needs.
Email is also a good way for churches in the same area (say, the same presbytery, classis, diocese, parish, or whatever the appropriate term might be) to keep one another informed of activities and needs, as well as a good way for churches to keep in touch with missionaries on the field (some, not all, of whom may have some access to email).
In addition to email, of course, the Internet offers many other opportunities (for example, does your church yet have a Web page?), but perhaps these comments open up some of the possibilities that are there waiting to be realized! ________________________________________________________________
6. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR FREE NEWSLETTER
This is the third issue of a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the "Internet"). If you are not yet a subscriber and would like to become one, send an appropriate note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at email@example.com. Permission is hereby granted, however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1) no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety. To subscribe, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, including "Subscribe to CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent. (To be removed from the emailing list, also write to email@example.com, but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)