"Christians And The Internet" newsletter CATI, Vol. 3, No. 13: November 15, 2002 _______________________________________________________________ TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. J. GRESHAM MACHEN: DEFENDER OF CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALS 2. WARNING: HOLD OFF ON OPENING THAT ELECTRONIC GREETING CARD! 3. AOL 8.0 & MSN 8.0: TWO INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS COMPARED 4. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER _______________________________________________________________ The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed online at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati76.htm. The Web page edition makes it especially easy to visit the links. Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2002 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. See the end of this issue for more information on "CATI." _______________________________________________________________ 1. J. GRESHAM MACHEN: DEFENDER OF CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALS During the fundamentalism/modernism controversies that took place in the 1920's, a great defender of historic, Biblical Christianity was J. Gresham Machen of Princeton Seminary. One particularly influential book was his Christianity and Liberalism, a book whose virtues were admired even by those who did not hold to traditional Protestantism or, for that matter, hold to any profession of religious belief. One example of such was Walter Lippman, who in his book A Preface to Morals (1929) wrote at some length about the controversy and Machen's book: ______________________________________________________________ / Fundamentalism is....avowedly a reaction within the Protestant communions against what the President of the World's Christian Fundamentalist Association rather accurately described as 'that weasel method of sucking the meaning out of words, and then presenting the empty shells in an attempt to palm them off as giving the Christian faith a new and another interpretation.'... There is...a reasoned case against the modernists....[T]his case has been stated in a little book called Christianity and Liberalism by a man who is both a scholar and a gentleman. The author is Professor J. Gresham Machen of the Princeton Theological Seminary. It is an admirable book. For its acumen, for its saliency, and for its wit, this cool and stringent defense of orthodox Protestantism is, I think, the best popular argument produced by either side in the current controversy. We shall do well to listen to Dr. Machen.... Dr. Machen insists, rightly I think, that the historic influence of Christianity on the mass of men has depended upon their belief that an historic drama was enacted in Palestine nineteen hundred years ago during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius. The veracity of that story was [is?] fundamental to the Christian Church.... The fundamentalist goes to the very heart of the matter, therefore, when he insists that you have destroyed the popular foundations of religion if you make your gospel a symbolic record of experience, and reject it as an actual record of events. The liberals have yet to answer Dr. Machen when he [argues that "the] Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but on an account of facts." It was based on the story of the birth, the life, the ministry, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That story set forth the facts which certify the Christian experience. Modernism, which in varying degree casts doubt upon the truth of that story, may therefore be defined as an attempt to preserve selected parts of the experience after the facts which inspired it have been rejected. The orthodox believer may be mistaken as to the facts in which he believes. But he is not mistaken in thinking that you cannot...have a faith of which the only foundation is their need and desire to believe. The historic churches, without any important exceptions, I think, have founded faith on clear statements about matters of fact, historic events...." http://www.podmonkeyx.com/article.asp?Titles=74&Searchstring= \______________________________________________________________ Similarly, the irreverent H.L. Mencken in his newspaper article "Dr. Fundamentalist" had much praise for Machen: ______________________________________________________________ / The Rev. J. Gresham Machen, D. D....was actually a man of great learning, and, what is more, of sharp intelligence. What caused him to quit the Princeton Theological Seminary and found a seminary of his own was his complete inability, as a theologian, to square the disingenuous evasions of Modernism with the fundamentals of Christian doctrine. He saw clearly that the only effects that could follow diluting and polluting Christianity in the Modernist manner would be its complete abandonment and ruin. Either it was true or it was not true. If, as he believed, it was true, then there could be no compromise with persons who sought to whittle away its essential postulates, however respectable their motives. Thus he fell out with the reformers who [were] trying...to convert the Presbyterian Church into a kind of literary and social club, devoted vaguely to good works. His one and only purpose was to hold [the Church] resolutely to what he conceived to be the true faith. When that enterprise met with opposition, he fought vigorously, and though he lost in the end and was forced out of Princeton it must be manifest that he marched off to Philadelphia with all the honors of war.... ...I never had the honor of meeting him. Moreover, the doctrine that he preached seemed to me...to be excessively dubious.... But Dr. Machen had the same clear right to believe in it that I have to disbelieve in it, and though I could not yield to his reasoning I could at least admire, and did greatly admire, his remarkable clarity and cogency as an apologist, allowing him his primary assumptions.... ...[H]is opponents....essayed to overhaul the scriptural authority which lay at the bottom of the whole matter, retaining what coincided with their private notions and rejecting whatever upset them. Upon this contumacy Dr. Machen fell with loud shouts of alarm. He denied absolutely that anyone had a right to revise and sophisticate Holy Writ. Either it was the Word of God or it was not the Word of God, and if it was, then it was equally authoritative in all its details, and had to be accepted or rejected as a whole. Anyone was free to reject it, but no one was free to mutilate it or to read things into it that were not there. Thus the issue with the Modernists was clearly joined, and Dr. Machen argued them quite out of court, and sent them scurrying.... His operations...at least disposed of those who proposed to read [Holy Writ] as they might read a newspaper, believing what they chose and rejecting what they chose.... It is my belief, as a friendly neutral in all such high and ghostly matters, that the body of doctrine known as Modernism is completely incompatible, not only with anything rationally describable as Christianity, but also with anything deserving to pass as religion in general. Religion, if it is to retain any genuine significance, can never be reduced to a series of sweet attitudes, possible to anyone not actually in jail for felony. It is, on the contrary, a corpus of powerful and profound convictions, many of them not open to logical analysis.... It is potent in a man in proportion as he is willing to...accept its fundamental postulates.... These postulates, at least in the Western world, have been challenged in recent years on many grounds.... But it is one thing to reject religion altogether, and quite another thing to try to save it by pumping out of it all its essential substance.... That, it seems to me, is what the Modernists have done.... What they have left, once they have achieved their imprudent scavenging, is hardly more than a row of hollow platitudes, as empty of psychological force and effect as so many nursery rhymes.... Religion is something else again.... Dr. Machen tried to impress that obvious fact upon his fellow [Presbyterians]. He failed--but he was undoubtedly right. http://members.aol.com/dpinstitut/Mencken_Machen_Eulogy.htm \______________________________________________________________ Machen did not like the term "fundamentalist" (he believed not merely in five or so "fundamentals of the faith" but in "the whole counsel of God" in the Bible as summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms), but when the battle-lines were drawn between the "fundamentalists" and the "modernists," he did not hesitate to take his stand with the "fundamentalists" as over against those who denied fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith (the trustworthiness of Scripture, the virgin birth and deity of Jesus Christ, His death as a substitutionary atonement, His bodily resurrection, and His second coming). The battle was largely lost in the mainline Protestant denominations (such as Machen's own Presbyterian church) and seminaries (such as Princeton). In response, Machen was involved in the founding of Westminster Seminary and was also one of the founders of what is now the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. (I count myself priileged to be a graduate of Westminster Seminary -- M.Div; Th.M. in New Testament -- and an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.) You can read J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism, the entire book, online at any of the following addresses: J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmchrandlib.htm or http://www.biblebelievers.com/machen/ or http://christianbeliefs.org/books/c&l/c&l-contents.html Following is a list of many (but not all) of the writings of J. Gresham Machen available online: "The Atonement" http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmatonement.htm The Christian Faith in the Modern World (book) http://www.christianbeliefs.org/books/chrfaith/ChrFaith-Machen-00.html "Christianity and Culture" http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmculture.htm or http://www.cambridgestudycenter.com/articles/machenculture.htm Christianity and Liberalism (book) http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmchrandlib.htm or http://www.biblebelievers.com/machen/ or http://christianbeliefs.org/books/c&l/c&l-contents.html The Creeds and Doctrinal Advance" http://www.the-highway.com/creedsadv_Machen.html "The Doctrine of the Atonement" (three parts) http://www.the-highway.com/atone1_Machen.html "The Fear of God" http://www.the-highway.com/articleSept00.html "History and Faith" http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmhistfaith.htm "The Importance of Christian Scholarship" http://bpc.org/resources/articles/machen/scholar.html "Jesus and Paul" (essay) http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmjesuspaul.htm "Liberalism or Christianity?" (essay) http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmliborchr.htm "The Life of Christ" http://www.markers.com/ink/jgntsurvey.htm "The Living Saviour" (sermon) http://www.the-highway.com/saviour.html "The Minister and His Greek New Testament" http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmmingreek.htm or http://christianbeliefs.org/articles/greektestament.html "My Idea of God" (PDF file) http://www.pcanet.org/history/documents/machen-myidea.pdf "New Testament Greek: A Brief Introduction" http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmgreek.htm New Testament Greek for Beginners (book) http://www.ccel.org/m/machen/greek/htm/i.htm "On the Deity of Christ" (seven parts) http://www.the-highway.com/deityTOC_Machen.html The Origin of Paul's Religion (book) http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmorigin.htm "Prophets False and True" (sermon) http://www.the-highway.com/prophets_Machen.html "The Proposed Department of Education" http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmcongress.htm "The Resurrection of Christ" http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmresurrection.htm "What Is Christianity?" (essay) http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmwic.htm or http://www.ondoctrine.com/2jgm0003.htm or http://reformerkev.esmartweb.com/whatis_machen.html or http://teachall.net/hl/otherresources/15_misc/christianity.htm "The Witness of Paul" http://www.markers.com/ink/jgmwop.htm Various excerpts, essays, etc. http://members.aol.com/rsichurch/gospel.html And here is a list of some online articles about J. Gresham Machen: Barr, James Daniel. "Newspaper Coverage of J. Gresham Machen's Ecclesiastical Trial In 1935" (Premise) http://capo.org/premise/97/Dec/p971204.html Hart, Darryl. "Bibliographic Essay on the Works of J. Gresham Machen" (Premise) http://capo.org/premise/96/mj/p960504.html Hart, D.G., and John R. Meuther. "J. Gresham Machen and the Regulative Principle." (Premise) http://www.opc.org/OS/html/V6/1a.html Hawkins, Craig S. "A Short History of the Life of J.G. Machen: His Relevance for Today -- '...by Faith He Still Speaks, even though He is Dead'" (written by a non-Calvinist, but helpful and informative) http://www.apologeticsinfo.org/papers/machen.html Helseth, Paul Kjoss. "J. Gresham Machen and 'True Science': Machen's Apologetical Continuity with Old Princeton's Right Use of Reason" (Premise) http://capo.org/premise/98/FEB/p980203.html "Lessons from J. Gresham Machen" (summary of an address by Carl Trueman) http://www.evangelical-times.org/ETNews/July01/jul01n30.htm Oliver, Randy. "Defender of the Faith: The Life of John Gresham Machen (two parts) http://www.thirdmill.org/files/english/html/ch/CH.h.Oliver.Machen.1.html and http://www.thirdmill.org/files/english/html/ch/CH.h.Oliver.Machen.2.html Piper, John. "J. Gresham Machen's Response to Modernism" http://www.desiringgod.org/library/biographies/93machen.html Rosenthal, Shane. "Was J. Gresham Machen A Consistent Calvinist?: Van Til vs. Machen & The Princeton Apologetic of Common Sense." http://www.markers.com/ink/srmachen.htm Schlect, Chris. "Machen Against Fundamentalism" (Credenda Agenda) http://www.credenda.org/issues/13-3historia.php Sundberg, Walter. "J. Gresham Machen: Christianity and Liberalism (1923)" (First Things) http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0003/articles/machen.html Walker, Daniel F. "J. Gresham Machen: A Forgotten Libertarian" http://www.libertyhaven.com/theoreticalorphilosophicalissues/libertarianism/jgresham.shtml Enjoy! _______________________________________________________________ 2. WARNING: HOLD OFF ON OPENING THAT ELECTRONIC GREETING CARD! If you receive an electronic greeting card from an unknown source or even get an unexpected card from someone you know), it may be wise for you to hold off on opening it until you confirm its authenticity (e.g., by first checking with the family member or friend it claims to be from). Otherwise you may be exposing yourself or those you know to spam mail or pop-up pornography ads. If you get an E-Card, for example, from "friendlygreetings.com," delete it (and check out any other suspicious e-cards before opening them)! This warning is not an "urban legend" (like the rumor passed around earlier about Blue Mountain e-cards), but actual fact. Here's how TruthOrFiction describes the situation: "Summary of the eRumor. A warning is circulating on the Internet about a 'virus-like' program that says a friend has sent you an e-card, but if you respond to it, all the addresses in your Outlook address book will be sent to the greeting card company. The Truth. The warning is true. What appears to be an invitation to read an e-card actually forwards your Outlook addresses to a Spammer who will be sending advertisements to your friends [quite possibly] about pornography." http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/e-card.htm I added the words "quite possibly," because apparently the same approach is now being used by other spammers as well. ("Spam" is Internet slang for unasked-for e-mail, such as get-rich-quick schemes, invitations to pornographic sites, etc.) TruthOrFiction warns of that and suggests some ways to protect yourself: "Virus experts are warning that there are other companies now trying this tactic. They suggest avoiding installing programs from emails and that if there is fine-print, read it. Also, Lawrence Baldwin, president of Internet security firm myNetWatchman.com told CNN that he suggests disabling the Internet Explorer function that allows browsers to instantly download ActiveX Controls." http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/e-card.htm If you read the fine print, you may discover that you are giving the company permission to have the program send to them all the e-mail addresses in your address book. For this reason and since the program does not do any actual damage to your computer, it's not technically a virus and thus is sometimes ignored by anti-virus programs. The same e-Card approach that is used to gather e-mail addresses to which to send spam, either pornographic or otherwise, can be used to install pornographic pop-up ads: "A trojan progam called Ortyc sends out a goofy graphic e-card that installs a marketing program that assaults you with porn pop-up ads. The e-card may arrive as an email with a message alerting you that you have received an e-card. It then links you to the website, where a permission box pops up saying an extra program is needed to view the card. This is what secretly installs the porn pop-up program." http://www.techtv.com/news/security/story/0,24195,3406838,00.html Not all electronic greeting cards are booby-trapped, of course: "There are still legitimate e-greeting cards out there, but overall, security experts say that users should take caution when opening such messages. As with any suspect e-mails, experts recommend that receivers of such e-greeting messages should personally contact the sender to verify that the e-mail was indeed sent by them." http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/TechTV/techtv_nastyecards021111.html For further information on the situation, check out these online articles: "ABCNews: "E-Cards Delivering Nasty Greetings: Hackers and Marketers Tap Into Popularity of Virtual Greeting Cards" by Becky Worley (slightly different from the Tech Live article) http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/TechTV/techtv_nastyecards021111.html CNN.com: "E-mail greeting card hides porn" by Jeordan Legon http://asia.cnn.com/2002/TECH/ptech/10/28/security.net/ MSNBC: "Wormlike e-card still spreading" http://www.msnbc.com/news/826033.asp?0bl=-0 NewScientist.com: "Email greeting card hides spam software" by Willl Knight http://www.newscientist.com/news/print.jsp?id=ns99992975 Tech Live: "E-cards Delivering Nasty Greetings: Virus writers, spammers, and porn peddlers are finding e-greetings a useful means to deliver their wares" by Becky Worley (slightly different from the ABCNews article) http://www.techtv.com/news/security/story/0,24195,3406838,00.html _______________________________________________________________ 3. AOL 8.0 & MSN 8.0: TWO INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS COMPARED In October 2002, two popular Internet Service Providers -- America Online (AOL) and Microsoft Network (MSN) -- offered a new version of their software. Both called the update version 8.0, so the purpose of this article is to compare AOL 8.0 and MSN 8.0, for the sake of readers who would like to compare the competition with what they already have. Although we may take a brief look at other things as well, the emphasis here will be on "family-friendliness" and on parental control options, since I expect that area may be of particular interest to CATI readers. Both AOL 8.0 and MSN 8.0 were reviewed recently by Dan Tynet. The results of his comparison were published by both ZDNet and CNET. Those reports form the starting point for our discussion here. Before we go into particulars, here's the bottom line: "If you use AOL and don't like it much, MSN 8.0 is a family- friendly alternative. Get it if you need parental controls and surfing filters, but Net-savvy surfers shouldn't switch from another ISP.... Net newbies, disgruntled AOL users, and those with families should look to MSN 8.0 for the best all- in-one Internet package, but anyone using another ISP, such as EarthLink, needn't switch." http://www.cnet.com/internet/0-3762-8-20576873-1.html?tag=st.is.3762-8-20578242-1.arrow.3762-8-20576873-1 Neither AOL nor MSN at present offers a perfect package to parents, but -- between the two -- MSN is more "family- friendly," judging from Tynan's reviews: CNET review of AOL 8.0 http://www.cnet.com/internet/0-3762-8-20520916-1.html?tag=st.is.3762-8-20576873-1.more.3762-8-20520916-1 CNET review of MSN 8.0 http://www.cnet.com/internet/0-3762-8-20576873-2.html?tag=st.is.3762-8-20576873-1.arrow.3762-8-20576873-2 ZDNet: "The Great Eights: AOL 8.0 vs. MSN 8.0" http://www.zdnet.com/products/stories/reviews/0,4161,2895819,00.html ZDNet review of AOL 8.0 http://www.zdnet.com/supercenter/stories/review/0,12070,562375,00.html ZDNet review of MSN 8.0 http://www.zdnet.com/supercenter/stories/overview/0,12069,562417,00.html If you're considering changing your Internet Service Provider and are thinking of AOL or MSN, I recommend that you read the full reports before deciding (but keep in mind also that they represent primarily one person's opinion you are reading) and that you check out other reviews of both services where it is possible. Let's look at parental controls on AOL 8.0 and MSN 8.0. "...MSN's new parental controls are more sophisticated than AOL's. As with America Online, you pick one of four age settings for each member; at the strictest setting (age nine or under), children must obtain permission before exchanging mail with strangers, entering a chat room, downloading a file, or accessing all but a handful of Web sites. A unique feature lets parents grant permission by filling in a box on the child's screen or responding to e-mail; parents can also obtain weekly reports detailing their child's online activity. (AOL plans to introduce similar parental controls later....)" http://www.zdnet.com/supercenter/stories/review/0,12070,562417,00.html In his review of "AOL vs. MSN," John Morris offers similar comments: "It's a sad commentary that some of the most prominent new features in the 8.0 versions are meant to protect users from the Internet and e-mail, rather than take best advantage of them. Both services include expanded parental controls starting with simple, age-based controls, but Microsoft [i.e., MSN] has given a little more thought to how these controls will actually work for busy families. For example, you can bar specific sites or e-mail addresses (both services let you block downloads) and get a regular report of your children's online activities." http://hwreviews.netscape.com/hardware/0-1016-8-20610289-1.html Michael Martinez at Kiplinger.com, going into even further detail in this area: ______________________________________________________________ / "Parental controls. For a while, AOL was the only major service to have parental controls -- settings that parents could use to monitor and control their kids' Web surfing habits. MSN didn't have them in past versions but more than made up for it in 8.0. AOL's trend-setting parental controls look simple and tired now, giving parents just a handful of options based on their child's age and maturity. MSN took things about 50 steps further. Parents can not only assign filters to Web sites based on age but can also identify categories of Web sites or specific sites that your child can or can't access. If your kid comes across a site that he or she really wants to view but is blocked, you can be petitioned via e-mail to see the site. If you agree, you can then give your child immediate access via e-mail. MSN also offers more flexibility in mail and messenger use, and can even control access to the child's "buddy list" and address book to prevent unwanted messages from appearing. Parents can go in and generate reports at any time. So if you really want to be paranoid, you can scan your kids' surfing every day.... You can shut down the child's access from wherever you're logged in, at work or at home. If there's homework to be done, rest assured that your kid is actually working on the computer instead of goofing off." http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/tech/ \______________________________________________________________ For further discussion of the improved parental controls in MSN 8.0, see the following: Arizona Star: "New features in MSN 8.0 give parents more control" by James Coates of the Chicago Tribune http://www.azstarnet.com/public/startech/archive/102302/hottopic.html Currently MSN offers parents more control, but that's good even for AOL users, because it forces AOL to play "catch up" in the future, as John Morris indicates: "...AOL promises to slip in many of MSN 8.0's features, such as parental reports, in coming months. But for now, if you're looking for a new ISP and want the added features of an online service, MSN 8.0 is the clear choice." http://hwreviews.netscape.com/hardware/0-1016-8-20610289-1.html In the comparisons I saw, MSN 8.0 seemed consistently to be preferred over AOL 8.0. CNET gave MSN an 8 (out of 10) and AOL a 6. ZDNet gave MSN a 7.8 and AOL a 6.4 (essentially the same as CNET, as we might expect, since Dan Tynan is the basis for both), but user ratings at ZDNet also showed a preference for MSN over AOL (8.4 vs. 5.3). The results of a benchmark study by the Usability Sciences Corporation claims to have shown "MSN 8.0 to be the preferred product over AOL 8.0 by a three to one margin": "The results indicate that MSN 8 was, by a substantial margin, the product of choice among consumers. The sample population recruited for this study reflects subscription patterns across the wider Internet population. The 150-user sample consisted: 30 percent current AOL users, 10 percent current MSN users, and 60 percent Internet users of neither product. The study required the 150 users to execute a series of commonly performed tasks on MSN 8.0 and AOL 8.0. Seventy five percent (75%) of users preferred MSN 8.0 over AOL 8.0. Twenty five percent (25%) of users preferred AOL 8.0 over MSN 8.0." http://www.usabilitysciences.com/press/msn_aol.html But perhaps it ought to be mentioned also that "The benchmark was commissioned by Microsoft," so this study may not be as persuasive as it might otherwise have been. Final thoughts: MSN may offer more functions and more control to parents than AOL at present, but AOL is easier to use, so there may be reason for some people (especially the "newbie newbies") to prefer AOL over MSN. And parental control on neither is perfect (as I've often said, the best parental control is done not by parental control software, but by parents involved in the lives of their children). Also, it should be said that there are other options besides AOL and MSN (including family-friendly "filtering" Internet Service Providers), options which cost no more (and often cost less) than AOL and MSN. Ultimately, the choice is yours as to what is best for you and your family. My purpose in CATI is simply to provide information so that you may make a more intelligent and informed choice. If you're not satisfied with what you have now, you may want to consider switching (once you are convinced that what you're switching to is better for your own specific situation). Here are a few more online articles that may contain useful information on AOL 8.0 and MSN 8.0: ABCNews.com: First Look: AOL 8.0 http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/TechTV/techtv_AOLreview021016.html ABCNews.com: First Look: MSN 8.0 http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/TechTV/techtv_MSN8review021025.html MSNBC News: Review: AOL 8.0 vs. MSN 8.0 http://www.msnbc.com/news/828788.asp?0si=-#BODY _______________________________________________________________ 4. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER Like to know what this is? This is the seventy-sixth 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"). Like to subscribe to this free email newsletter? Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (but be sure to include your name in the note). Like to read past CATI issues and articles (or even search CATI for a particular subject)? 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