"Christians And The Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 5 No. 3:  February 28, 2004
_______________________________________________________________

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. THE HIGHWAY: WEBMASTER COMMENTS AND PARTIAL AUTHOR INDEX!
2. MEL GIBSON'S "THE PASSION:  MORE MATERIAL FOR AND AGAINST
3. IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON E-MAIL VIRUSES AND OTHER EVILS
4. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER
_______________________________________________________________

The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed
on-line at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati92.htm.  The
Web page edition makes it especially easy to visit the links.

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2004 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  See
the end of this issue for more information on "CATI."
_______________________________________________________________

1. THE HIGHWAY: WEBMASTER COMMENTS AND PARTIAL AUTHOR INDEX!

The following Web site is a rich resource of materials from
a Reformed perspective, including works by Thomas Boston,
John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, John Flavel, Thomas Goodwin,
A.A. Hodge, Charles Hodge, J. Gresham Machen, John Owen,
C.H. Spurgeon, Robert Trail, B.B. Warfield, Thomas Watson,
and Isaac Watts:

The Highway
  http://the-highway.com/

I talked the Webmaster, Jeff Nesbitt, into sharing with us
an autobiographical introduction to the site:
 _________________________________________________________
/
I was asked by Barry to share something about my website,
"The Highway," which has been on the Internet now for a
little over 8 years.  The originator of The Highway was
actually Dr. Rick Abshier, who back in January of 1996 began,
as you might expect, with just an idea of having something
online which would extol the greatness of God and be of some
benefit to those who would visit the website. Unfortunately,
Rick's full-time job with FedEx didn't leave much free time
to devote to the website's development. So, rather than
abandon everything, and after much prayer, he decided to
seek out someone who would be able to continue the site's
development and further his dream. That fortunate individual
was me.

Ironically, at that time, I was quite new to computers, never
mind creating a webpage for the Internet. Rick's "dream" was
something that really struck a sweet chord with me and I, with
much trepidation,agreed to take over the reins and continue in
Rick's footsteps. Needless to say, I had much to learn, but
it was one of those situations where enthusiasm overrode
ignorance and perhaps better judgment. I began reading
everything I could find about webpage design, HTML, word
processors, graphic design,and all those marvelous things
which a web designer must know. It wasn't long before I found
my "comfort zone" and thus I was able to spend the majority
of my time actually creating pages for the website rather
than on educating myself in the fundamentals, e.g., meta
tags, cascading stylesheets, javascript and all those
marvelous things that exist invisibly behind what people 
see on the Internet.

There can be no denying that, at least in my case, God was
behind my efforts, beause my lack of expertise should have
ended in disaster.  Instead, The Highway began to grow in
popularity and it no longer appeared on the last page of a
Google search. With this encouragement came a new focus as
to where I wanted the website to go; i.e., what content
would be most beneficial to those who visited The Highway.

It became clear to me that what was most lacking at that time
was a place where Christians could find edifying material
that would provide sound doctrine, practical application,
comfort for those who were hurting, and a clear gospel
message to those who were yet lost.  Since I had a library
of reasonable size, consisting of many works which the
majority of people would probably never have access to, the
logical thing to do was to share the writings of those
authors with the Christian community.  And thus, this was
to be my quest and contribution to the Internet community.

From that small beginning The Highway has grown exponentially
over the past eight years.  It now houses in excess of 1000
articles, books, and sermons.  There is also a very popular
Discussion Board, which is integrated with the website and
which currently has 590 registered members and over 33000
messages in 19 public forums.  There is also an integrated
Chatroom where members can engage in real-time conversation.

Statistics? Well, currently, the website and discussion
board average over 250,000 hits per week. Truly, God has
marvelously blessed the work and those who regularly visit
The Highway. Spiritual growth among the members has been
overwhelming, and there have been a number of people who
have come to believe in the Lord Christ.

Perhaps, from this little biographical sketch, there might
be some of you who will be encouraged to press on with what
you are doing online.  Or maybe some might consider starting
a website for the glory of God.

Come visit the website at: http://www.the-highway.com, or the
Discussion Board at http://www.the-highway.com/forum/index.php

In His Marvelous Grace,

Jeffrey C. Nesbitt
Webmeister
\_________________________________________________________

You may or may not always agree with Jeff's comments as
moderator (see the next article), but you'll find some
interesting discussions going on.  The bulletin board
is an active one.  But, to me, the even greater strength
of The Highway is the 1000+ articles that are available
there.

Jeff and I disagree about at least one thing:  I think
there should be more on the site to let people know the
rich resources that are there.  Jeff points, however,
to the search engine on his site which he says makes it
easy for people to find material by a particular author
or on a particular topic.  I grant that to be true to a
certain extent, but I think The Highway could benefit
from more "road signs," so to speak.

That's why I have started a "partial author index for
The Highway."  It is a "work in progress"; you can
watch the progress by checking out this Web address:

Partial Author Index for The Highway
  http://traver.org/highway/

Enjoy!
_______________________________________________________________

2. MEL GIBSON'S "THE PASSION:  MORE MATERIAL FOR AND AGAINST

One way or the other, it is evident that many people feel
passionately about Mel Gibson's new film, "The Passion of
the Christ."  This newsletter is one of the very few places
around where you can find materials both pro and con.  You
can read the resources on both sides and come to your own
conclusions about this controversial movie.

The comments in this article are a supplement to what was
published in a previous article:

Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ: Views and Reviews
  http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati91.htm#1

You should read that first, if you have not done so already.

What is my own viewpoint?  Well, I believe that whether or
not we believe that the film is a violation of the second
commandment, we can use the current interest in the movie as
a stepping-stone to profitable discussion about Who the real
Jesus is and what He came to do.  We can concede the powerful
presentation of the film, while simultaneously showing its
inadequacies.

For example, we can say something like this:  "As powerful as
the film is in presenting the suffering of Jesus, it falls
far short of the reality.  The greatest suffering that Jesus
suffered was separation from the Father, and that is not
something that can be shown on film.  Since it is impossible
to show fully in a film the Person and Work of Christ, some
Christians believe that the attempt to do so is wrong and
- to the extent that it presents the filmmaker's portrayal
of Christ as worthy of worship - a violation of the second
commandment.  The only place where we can find a perfect
portrayal of Christ is in the Bible, by which everything
else is to be judged."

At that point there could be the invitation to be part of
a Bible study considering the Person and Work of Christ.

The fault I find with most of what has been written about
the film is that it either ignores entirely the issue of
the second commandment (this is generally true of those
who are supportive of the film) or (this is generally true
of those who are against the film) ignores that there is
some diversity of interpretation of that commandment among
intelligent, informed, sincere, Christians (some of whom
are Reformed in conviction and serious about the matter
of obedience to the Holy Scriptures and to the Reformed
Confessions).

An exception to that generalization about most of what
has been written about the film is this commendable
Sunday School lesson from a traditional Reformed
perspective:

"Outline of Adult Bible School Class on Mel Gibson’s The
    Passion of the Christ" by William Shishko
William Shishko is pastor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
of Franklin Square, New York, and a member of the Orthodox
Presbyterian Church (OPC) Committee on Christian Education.
  http://opc.org/cce/2Comm/PassionClassOutline.html

If you like, you can listen to this presentation
on-line:

SermonAudio.com:  William Shishko (MP3 file)
  http://snipurl.com/4qex

Mr. Shishko presents clearly what he believes to be the
implications of the second commandment, yet he recognizes
"the sincerity of the motives of many of the Christians
who want to use the film as a tool for evangelism" and he
encourages Christians to "[u]se the interest in the film
to tell people about Christ and his work."

The implication of what he says seems to be that Christians
should NOT attend the film with their non-Christian friends,
although he does not state that explicitly, perhaps leaving
the question somewhat open.  (Read his "Outline" and decide
for yourself!)  At any rate, his "Outline" has a pastoral
tone to it that is not always evident in other presentations
of this position.  As Dr. Van Til used to express it at
Westminster Seminary, I think that Mr. Shishko presents his
case "suaviter in modo, fortiter in re" (i.e., gentle in
manner, resolute in deed), whether or not you are persuaded
by it.

Here are some other examples of arguments against the film,
often on the basis of the second commandment, but sometimes
for other reasons:

Banner of Truth:  Five Reasons Not to Go See The Passion
    of Christ by Andrew J. Webb
Andrew J. Webb is pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church
(PCA) in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
  http://snipurl.com/4qcj

Challies.com:  Movie Review: The Passion of the Christ
    by Tim Challies (in three parts)
Challies.Com describes itself as "Putting The Fun In
Fundamentalism."  This Web site seeks to present
"Musings, Essays, Articles & Reviews written from a
Reformed Perspective."
  http://snipurl.com/4rlf (part one of film review)
    and
  http://snipurl.com/4qcl (part two of film review)
    and
  http://www.challies.com/ (part three of film review)

The Highway:  Discussion Board:  Discussion of Passion
    Movie and the 2nd Commandment
Here's discussion pro and con, with the moderator Jeff
Nesbitt (see preceding article) presenting the arguments
against the film, which he sees as being a violation of
the second commandment.
  http://tinyurl.com/26ewc

Orthodox Presbyterian Church:  "Question and Answer" on
    Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion"
The author of the "Answer," G.I. Williamson, is a pastor
in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) and the author
of commentaries on the Westminster Confession of Faith
and the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
  http://opc.org/cce/QandA/69.html

SermonAudio.com:  The Passion Movie:  To See or Not To See
    by Albert N. Martin (MP3 audio file))
Al Martin is a popular speaker and pastor of Trinity Baptist
Church in Montville, New Jersey, which is a Reformed Baptist
congregation.
  http://snipurl.com/4qj2

Reference is often made to Question 109 in the Westminster
Shorter Catechism:

Q. 109. What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all
devising, counselling, commanding, using, and anywise
approving, any religious worship not instituted by God
himself; the making any representation of God, of all or
of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind,
or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any
creature whatsoever; all worshipping of it, or God in it or
by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities,
and all worship of them, or service belonging to them, all
superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God,
adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken
up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others,
though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion,
good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever; simony;
sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing
the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.
  http://opc.org/documents/wlc101-150.html

The important words here are these, which forbid any
representation of Christ:

"A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are ...
the making any representation of God, of ... any of
the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or
outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any
creature whatsoever...."

It is argued that not to accept Question 109 in the
Larger Catechism is to be out of accord with the
Westminster Standards and (for a Presbyterian
minister) to be unfaithful to one's ordination vows
to "sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of
Faith and Catechisms of this Church, as containing
the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures."
(Others argue, of course, that "adopting the Confession and
Catechisms ... as containing the system of doctrine taught
in the Holy Scriptures" does not necessarily mean a literal
subscription to all the details (such as the details in
Question 109 of the Larger Catechism).

Sometimes the Heidelberg Catechism is cited in similar
fashion:

"Question 96. What does God require in the second commandment?
Answer: That we in no wise represent God by images, nor
worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his
word.

"Question 97. Are images then not at all to be made?
Answer: God neither can, nor may be represented by any means:
but as to creatures; though they may be represented, yet God
forbids to make, or have any resemblance of them, either in
order to worship them or to serve God by them.

"Question 98. But may not images be tolerated in the churches,
as books to the laity?
Answer: No: for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who
will have his people taught, not by dumb images, but by the
lively preaching of his word."

  http://www.reformed.org/documents/heidelberg.html

Although some people have indicated that they thought my
first article was "too negative" concerning Mel Gibson's
"The Passion of the Christ" (and you may think the same
of the first half of this article), my goal is to present
both sides fairly and to provide links where you can read
both sides presenting their own views in their own words.

So we'll strive to balance this article by moving on at
this point from the case against the movie to the case
in favor of the movie.

Some see the second commandment as specifically concerned
with forbidding representations for the sake of worship
("do not bow down or worship/serve them").  Here, for
example, is how Presbyterian Francis Schaeffer views
the second commandment in his book on Art & the Bible,
p. 11:

"Those who feel that art is forbidden by the Scriptures point
first to the Ten Commandments:  'Thou shalt not make unto
thee a graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in
heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in
the water under the earth:  thou shalt not bow down thyself
unto them, nor serve them; for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous
God...' (Ex. 20:4-5).  Isn't it clear, they say, that man is
forbidden to make likenesses of anything, not just of God,
but anything in heaven or on the earth?  Surely this leaves
no place for art.

"But before we accept this conclusion, we should look at
another passage in the Law, which helps us to understand what
the commandment in Exodus actually means.  'Ye shall make
you no idols, neither shall ye rear you up a graven image, or
a pillar [that is a standing image or a statue], neither
shall ye place any figured stone in your land, to bow down
unto it, for I am Jehovah thy God' (Lev. 26:1).  This passage
makes clear that Scripture does not forbid the making of
representational art but rather the worship of it.  Only God
is to be worshiped.   Thus, the commandment is not against
making art but against worshiping anything other than God
and specifically against worshiping art.  To worship art is
wrong, but to make art is not."

To Francis Schaeffer and H.R. Rookmaaker (Schaeffer's friend,
professor of art history at the Free University of Amsterdam,
and author of Modern Art and the Death of a Culture), the
golden calf would be a violation of the second commandment,
but not the paintings of Rembrandt.  The point argued is
that from the second commandment, either all representational
art is wrong or only art that is worshipped is wrong.

This appears to be the view of PCA Pastor Jeff Myers:

"As for the objection that filming Christ violates the second
commandment, I have little patience for these kinds of
accusations.  The second commandment forbids making images
in order to bow down to them and venerate them.  Artistic
representation is not prohibited. Besides, as others have
noted, moving images are hardly susceptible to veneration.
Icons, yes; movies, no.  (If anyone is interested, about a
decade ago I wrote a little booklet examining the claim
that all artistic representations of Jesus are idolatrous.
It's called Vere Homo: The Case For Pictures of Jesus. You
can download ... it [at http://snipurl.com/4s2s]."
    http://corrigenda.blogspot.com/

The Special Committee of Synod on Pictures of Christ by the
RPCES (Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod - now
part of the Presbyterian Church in America or PCA) reported
at their General Synod in 1981 that not only were pictures
of Christ permitted, but also that in some situations they
were to be encouraged.  As I understand it, their argument
went something like this (I'm having to rely here on some
creative paraphrase based on descriptions of the document,
since I have not at this point seen an actual copy):

"If you're allowed to have pictures of the Apostles but not
pictures of Jesus in our Sunday School materials, what is
that teaching children about Jesus?  The Apostle John said,
'...we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard' (1 John
1:3), and he proclaimed the Word 'which we have heard, which
we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our
hands have touched" (1 John 1:1).  But the Jesus of some
Sunday School materials seems to be incapable of being seen,
heard, or touched.  If the Word, however, did not become
flesh and dwell among us (John 1:14), we are in very serious
trouble, for our salvation is dependent upon the reality of
the Incarnation.  A Docetic Christ cannot save us."

Is it likely that people will worship the actor who portrays
Jesus in the film?  A defender of the Gibson film is likely
to respond something like this:  "To the extent that the actor
accurately portrays the Jesus of the Scriptures, to that
extent people may be led to worship not the actor, but the
real Jesus.  But it is rather unlikely that people will see
the film and worship the actor or mistake him for the real
Jesus.  I'm reminded of Lloyd Bentzen's comment to Dan
Quayle, 'I knew John F. Kennedy, and you are no John F.
Kennedy.'  Well, Christians know Jesus Christ, and no actor
is Jesus Christ."

Well, that's enough of "creative paraphrasing."  If you want
to read what defenders of the film have to say in their own
words, here are some resources basically supportive of the
film:

Christianity Today:  The Passion of the Christ:  Special
    Section
  http://snipurl.com/4s2r

Jeff Myers:  Wednesday, February 25, 2004:  The Passion of the
    Christ
Jeff Myers is Senior Pastor of Providence Reformed Presbyterian
Church (PCA) in St. Louis, Missouri.
  http://corrigenda.blogspot.com/

Jeff Myers:  Vere Homo:  The Case For Pictures of Jesus.
    (revised June 1999)
(See preceding item for biographical information.)
  http://snipurl.com/4s2s

Jeffrey Overstreet:  A letter to Christians:  How should the
    Church respond to The Passion of the Christ?
Jeffrey Overstreet publishes frequent film and music reviews
at Looking Closer (http://snipurl.com/4scu), and edits the
"Film Forum" at Christianity Today (http://snipurl.com/4sct).
  http://snipurl.com/4s2q

Jeffrey Overstreet:  Movie Review:  The Passion of the
    Christ
(See preceding item for biographical information.)
  http://snipurl.com/4scl

Jews for Jesus:  The Passion:  Special Site
From a "CATI" subscriber:  "...if you plan to add more
Passion links in your next issue, you could consider the
Jews for Jesus special Passion site....  It includes an
Open Letter to Mel Gibson, articles, comments from Jewish
leaders favorable and otherwise, discussion board, and
poll :)"
  http://www.jewsforjesus.org/mel

Jonathan Barlowe:  2/26/2004:  Preliminary Thoughts on “The
    Passion of the Christ”
Jonathan Barlow is an M.Div. graduate of Covenant Theological
Seminary in St. Louis and a Ph.D. student in historical
theology at St. Louis University.  He also founded and
developed the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics
(CRTA) at http://www.reformed.org.
  http://www.barlowfarms.com/

One final thought:  "...Each one should be fully convinced
in his own mind....  Blessed is the man who does not condemn
himself by what he approves.  But the man who has doubts is
condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith;
and everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Romans
14:5, 23).  Think and pray through what you believe on this
issue, and base your belief on what you believe the Bible to
be teaching (and not merely what one side or the other says
it says).

If you don't know whether or not you can go see "The Passion
of the Christ" in good conscience, don't go.  If you do know
what you believe, then act in accordance with that belief
(but exercise some charity toward other Christians who may
hold to a different position).
_______________________________________________________________

3. IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON E-MAIL VIRUSES AND OTHER EVILS

At the present time on the Internet there is an epidemic of
e=mail problems caused by the MyDoom (sometimes called
Novarg) virus, or worm.  It is estimated that currently one
out of every four email messages on the Internet is infected
with MyDoom, and Christians are not exempt from such problems.

MyDoom has the ability to "spoof" (i.e., take random e-mail
addresses from someone's address book and insert them into
the "From:" and "To:" fields of infected email messages that
it sends out itself.  What that means is this:  As a result
not only may you be sent infected files at your e-mail
address (when MyDoom puts your email address in the "To:"
slot), but also other people may be receiving infected files
which list you as the sender (when MyDoom puts your email
address in the "From:" slot)!  And if the email message
"bounces," it will get returned not to the infected computer
which really sent it, but to the email address in the "From:"
slot (that is, you)!

What can you do about the situation? You could change your
e-mail address, but then you'd have to inform people of your
change of address (and it would probably be only a matter of
time before your new address would be in the address book of
someone who will be infected with MyDoom).

Here are three recommendations:

(1) Do not open any file attachments (even if the supposed
sender is someone you know) unless you check with the person
to confirm that they sent you such an attachment. This is
how the virus infects your computer.

(2) Run a free online virus scan to see whether or not your
computer is infected. Here are some places to find such a
resource:

Trend Micro: Housecall
  http://housecall.trendmicro.com/housecall/start_corp.asp

BitDefender Free Online Virus Scan
 http://www.bitdefender.com/scan/licence.php

Panda ActiveScan: Free online scanner
 http://www.pandasoftware.com/activescan/

McAfee Freescan
 http://us.mcafee.com/root/mfs/default.asp

RAV AntiVirus Online Virus Scan
 http://www.ravantivirus.com/scan/

(Or, if you have an antivirus program installed on your
computer and you have kept it updated, run that to scan your
system.  If your computer is infected, you'll probably be
given directions on what to do next.)

(3) Make sure you're regularly using a good antivirus program
(I use Norton AntiVirus, but McAfee is also good) and that
you update it at least weekly. (I've received, without any
exaggeration, hundreds of infected emails, but so far Norton
has caught them all, which I confirmed by doing a virus scan
of my entire system a short time ago, so I know my system is
"clean.")

Here are some places where you can learn more about
the MyDoom/Novarg virus/worm:

Symantec (Norton): W32.Novarg.A@mm
 http://snipurl.com/49i9

McAfee: W32/Mydoom@MM
 http://snipurl.com/49ia

On a separate unrelated note, some people have received
emails related to "child porn."  One email says something
like this:  "Dear customer, We are glad to inform you, that
your DarkProfits.com Sales Order has been successfully
completed....  Product ordered: 1 Month Child Porn Unlimited
Online Access."  The other says something like this:  "Your
credit card will be billed at $22.95 weekly and free 3 pack
of child porn CD is shipping to your billing address....
Ready to enjoy all types of underage porn?...  Click the...
link below....  shadowcrew.com ."  Both emails are hoaxes.

It is important for you to know that neither DarkProfits.com
nor shadowcrew.com sell porn.  Neither one is the perpetrator
of the hoax, but each rather is an intended victim.  It's what
they call a "Joe Job."  The point is that you're supposed to
react so as to do something _against_ DarkProfits.com or
shadowcrew.com.  The best response to such an email is to
make no response.

Finally, unless you have taken steps to keep your email
address as secret as possible, you may find yourself the
target of spam (i.e., unsolicited commercial email) of
many types.  You may find these two recent articles to be
helpful on spam in general:

Spam E-Mail on the Internet and Some Ways to Combat It
  http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati88.htm#3

Christian Surfers:  Defeat Spam with SpamEater Pro!
  http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati90.htm#4

There is in Internet email much evidence of the doctrine of
total depravity and of people's need of the Savior. And as
Christians, we need to be "wise as serpents, and harmless
as doves" (Matthew 10:16).
_______________________________________________________________

4. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER

Like to know what this is?  This is the ninety-second 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
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Like to pass along this issue to others?  You may.  Permission
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Like to use material from this newsletter (say, on a Web page
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a lot of work (albeit a labor of love) and (since it is a free
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let me hear from you!)

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2004 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.
_______________________________________________________________