"Christians And The Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 5 No. 4:  March 13, 2004



The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed
on-line at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati93.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."


So who was Richard Baxer?  That name is often unfamiliar to
21st-century Christians, but it is a name worth getting to
know.  Richard Baxter was a 17th-century Puritan preacher,
but he was much more.  According to Knowing God author J.I.
Packer, Richard Baxter was

"the most outstanding pastor, evangelist and writer on
practical and devotional themes that Puritanism produced."

In fact,

"Dr. J. I. Packer, who did his doctoral work on Richard
Baxter, calls his Christian Directory the most important
Christian book ever written besides the Bible itself."

Packer elaborates on that theme:

"[The Christian Directory] is the richest and the best single
counseling resource available....It is the fullest, most
thorough, and most profound treatment of Christian
spirituality and standards that has ever been attempted by
an evangelical author....'Back to Baxter' would make a good
and healthful motto for the Christian leadership of our time."

Others agree with the judgment:

"Dr. Timothy Keller called that book 'the greatest manual on
Biblical counseling ever produced.'"

"Jay Adams writes, '... Baxter's Directory [is] a book with
which every Christian Counsellor should be familiar.'"

Concerning this book, Dr. Joel Beeke has this to say:

"The Puritans sounded a call to become Word-centered in faith
and practice. Richard Baxter's Christian Directory showed how
the Puritans regarded the Bible as a trustworthy guide for all
of life. Every case of conscience was subjected to Scripture's

The Puritans understood well that the Scriptures provide the
only rule of faith and life.

Baxter was a prolific author, and some of his other books are
also regarded as Christian classics, including A Call to the
Unconverted, The Reformed Pastor, and The Saints' Everlasting

Concerning the last, Dr. Beeke has this to say:

"The Puritans show us how to live from a two-worlds point
of view.  Richard Baxter's The Saint's Everlasting Rest
demonstrates the power that the hope of heaven should have
to direct, control, and energize our life here on earth.
Despite its length (800-plus pages), this classic became
household reading in Puritan homes. It was exceeded only by
John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress...."

The Saints' Everlasting Rest is available on-line here:


Also of great influence was Richard Baxter's A Call to the
Unconverted, both in his lifetime and afterwards:

"...Dr. [J.I.] Packer ... says 'This is the first
evangelistic pocket book in English, which in its year of
publication, sold twenty thousand copies and brought an
unending stream of readers to faith during Baxter's

Baxter's book had a continuing influence not only upon people
in general, but also preachers in particular:

"...what we are dealing with when we look at the book 'A Call
to the Unconverted' is an evangelistic treatise of immense
importance which has helped some of the greatest preachers
who have ever lived since Baxter's day. You cannot find
greater names in the history of preaching than [George]
Whitefield, [Charles] Spurgeon and [D. Martyn] Lloyd-Jones."

Why is Baxter's book so powerful?  Maurice Roberts suggests
ten reasons:
1. First, the directness with which he addresses his hearers.
He takes his hearer by storm. He talks to us as if he was at
our side, or at our elbow....

2. The reasons he brings forth are to be carefully noted.
Baxter did not rant, he did not simply vociferate or shout;
he did not make an assault on the will or on the emotions,
but on the mind. Man, said the Puritan, ... needs to know
why he is to turn to God; and then how to do so. And that
was what Baxter, in common with the men and preachers of
his day, did.

3. He uses the ploughshare of exhortation to rip up the
conscience of his hearers. Almost every word is a challenge
to the conscience of sinful man, to drive him out of his
refuge and conceit, and bring him worshipfully to the feet
of Christ.

4. I mention the thoroughness with which Baxter worked. He
said it and then said it again. He put it in different forms,
different ways: arguing, reasoning, persuading, convincing.

5. There is clarity of method....  He begins with a text of
Scripture - that was the universal Puritan method. You begin
with the Word of God then you announce the doctrine or
doctrines that derive from the text; these are proved and
then they're explained and expounded and then there is
relentless application to the conscience....

6. ...Baxter deals with primary truths. There is nothing
abstruse, obscure or recondite. He deals with the great
themes which are clear to the minds of all average hearers:
of heaven and hell, of God and Christ, of faith and
repentance, of Christ's cross, of the need to come at once.

7. We see his deep pastoral compassion and concern. He cared
profoundly for the lost state of man. He had a burning heart
of love to Christless sinners and his motive is to move men
to God.

8. He answers every objection that is conceivable and which
man might at any time raise against the truth....  The
Puritan evangelist removes every piece of self-defence,
self-righteousness from the sinner. He strips the sinner of
his armour and leaves him naked before God's Judgement

9. We see how sin is unmasked and the heart is laid bare. Man
is shown to be a sinner and sin to be exceeding sinful.

10. God in Christ is presented as supremely delightful,
desirable and to be attained to, no matter what the cost, or
difficulty, the sacrifice, or the apparent loss in this life.



It is no wonder that Roberts goes on to say this:

"Surely, we must conclude that we need another Richard Baxter
today. We do not need another Gospel but we need someone who
can preach to the masses like this."

Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor was based on his own

"J.C. Ryle esteemed Baxter as one of the most successful
pastors to ever live. He writes, 'While some ministers were
wrangling about the divine right of Episcopacy or Presbytery,
or splitting hairs about reprobation and free-will, Baxter
was always visiting from house to house and beseeching men
for Christ's sake, to be reconciled to God.... While others
were entangling themselves in politics, and 'burying their
dead' amidst the potsherds of the earth, Baxter was living
a crucified life and daily preaching the Gospel.'"

Perhaps it should be noted, however, that what J.C. Ryle
sees as a strength in Baxter, some see as a fault, i.e.,
that he was too "inclusive" in his concern to seek unity
within the Church.

Lynell Friesen puts it this way:

"Baxter wanted more than anything to see souls saved.
His work A Call to the Unconverted along with The Saints
Everlasting Rest will live as the great works of the
seventeenth century. But in his resolve to moderate the
position in the church and his great love of unity in the
body of Christ, his theology suffered."  He adopted a view
known as Amyraldianism, which is sort of a compromise
four-point Calvinism, rather than the typical five-point
Calvinism of his time.

The argument may not be easy to follow, but here is how
Benjamin B. Warfield describes historic Calvinism vs.

"The ... important [difference is] between those who hold that
God has in view not all but some men, namely those who are
actually saved, in all his operations looking toward the
salvation of men [the view of historic Calvinism]; and those
who wish to discriminate among God's operations in this matter
and to assign only to some of them a particularistic [reference
while] they assign to others a universalistic reference [the
view of Amyraldianism]....

"[T]he redemption of the sinner by Christ.... is supposed to
have in the plan of God [according to Amyraldianism] ... a
hypothetical reference to all men....  The scheme is therefore
known not merely by the name of its author, as Amyraldianism,
but also ... as Hypothetical Universalism. It [deals with] the
... specific question of the reference of the redeeming work
of Christ.  And the precise point at issue comes therefore to
be whether the redemptive work of Christ actually saves
those for whom it is wrought, or only opens a possibility of
salvation to them."

Two things can be said concerning Baxter's departure from
historic Calvinism:  (1) Like some other authors claimed for
Amyraldianism (John Bunyan, Matthew Henry, John Newton, John
Brown, Charles Simeon, and J.C. Ryle), the tremendous value
of some of the things written by him is acknowledged by those
who hold to historic Calvinism (e.g., The Reformed Pastor is
published by Banner of Truth and the 4-volume Practical
Works of Richard Baxter is published by Soli Deo Gloria).
(2) Nevertheless he should be read with some discretion in
areas involving theological speculation, while his practical
and devotional works do not usually present a problem in
that area.

J.I. Packer, historic Calvinist, highly praises some of
Baxter's works, as we have seen.  And here is how Packer
describes Baxter's extraordinary ministry:

"There was an amazing transformation ... under his ministry.
Family catechizing, family worship, a public worship pattern
full of praise, church discipline, preaching, devotional
reading, regular pastoral counseling, and small-group
ministry under Baxter's oversight, were all part of it, and
reformation was Baxter's name for it. He wrote a classic
book on ministerial practice entitled The Reformed Pastor.
By the word reformed Baxter meant spiritually alive...."

Here's where you can find The Reformed Pastor on-line:


Dr. Joel Beeke makes some comments about the Puritans in
general which also apply to Richard Baxter in particular, and
his comments show us some of the reasons why we ought to read
the Puritans today:
The Puritans show us how to marry doctrine and practice in our
lives by addressing the mind, confronting the conscience, and
wooing the heart.

Puritan literature addresses the mind. The Puritans loved and
worshiped God with their minds. They refused to set mind and
heart against each other, but taught that knowledge was the
soil in which the Spirit planted the seed of regeneration.
They viewed the mind as the palace of faith....  The Puritans
teach us to think in order to be holy. They understood that a
mindless Christianity fosters a spineless Christianity. An
anti-intellectual gospel will spawn an irrelevant gospel that
doesn't get beyond "felt needs." That's what is happening in
our churches today.....

Puritan literature confronts the conscience. The Puritans were
masters at naming specific sins, then asking questions to
press home the guilt of those sins....  Devotional reading
should be confrontational as well as comforting. We grow
little if our consciences are not pricked daily and directed
to Christ. Since we are prone instead to run away, we need
help in our daily devotions to be brought before the living
God, "naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have
to do" (Heb. 4:~3).

Puritan literature woos the heart. It is unusual today to find
books that both feed the mind with solid biblical substance
and move the heart with affectionate warmth, but the Puritans
do this. They reason with the mind, confront the conscience,
and appeal to the heart. They write out of love for God's
Word, love for the glory of God, and love for the souls of
readers. They set forth Christ in His loveliness, moving the
reader to yearn to know Him better and live wholly for Him.


If you have the money, I highly recommend that you purchase
the excellent reprint by Soli Deo Gloria of The Practical
Works of Richard Baxter, including the four works I've just
mentioned.  A good source is The Discerning Reader:


The set is made up of four very large hardbound books.  If
You could pay $240 for the set at Amazon.com, or you could
pay $149 for the set at The Discerning Reader:


If your budget is more limited, at that store you can also
get The Reformed Pastor for $5.59 or The Saints' Everlasting
Rest for $19.99.

You can also read the following by and about Richard Baxter
on-line (for free):


"The Advantages of Pleasing God"

"Advice on Reading"

"Cases and Directions About Confessing Sins and Injuries to

"Cases And Directions Against Censoriousness And Unwarrantable

"Cases and Directions for Loving Our Neighbour as Ourselves"

"Cases Of Conscience, and Directions Against Backbiting,
    Slandering, and Evil Speaking"

"Compassionate Counsel to All Young Men"

"The Cure of Melancholy and Overmuch Sorrow"

"Directions Against Covetousness'

"Directions Against Inordinate Man-pleasing"

"Directions Against Sinful Desires and Discontent"

"Directions Against Sinful Fear"

"Directions for a Peaceful Death"

"Directions for Grief at the Death of Friends"

"Directions for Hating Sin"

"The Duties of Parents for Their Children"

Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings: Index to Richard
Links to 23 writings by Richard Baxter!

"The Greatest Thing in the World"

"How to Spend the Day with God"

"Labour to Know Christ: Part 1"
"Labour to Know Christ: Part 2"

"Ministers of Love"

"The Mutual Duties Of Husbands And Wives Towards Each Other"

"On Sin"

The Reformed Pastor

The Saints' Everlasting Rest

"Signs of Living to Please God"

"The Sin of Man-Pleasing"

"The Sinfulness of Flesh-Pleasing"

"Special Directions for Christian Conference, Exhortation,
    and Reproof

"The Special Duties of Children and Youth Toward God"

"The Special Duties of Children Towards Their Parents"

"The Special Duties of Husbands to Their Wives"

"The Ten Marks of a Flesh-pleaser":

Three hymns by Richard Baxter

"Treason Against the Soul"

"A Word about Pride to all but Especially to Ministers of the


Beeke, Joel.  "Profiting from the Puritans for Devotional

Donnelly, Edward.  "Richard Baxter - A Corrective for Reformed

Fire and Ice: Richard Baxter

Friesen, Lynell.  "The Life and Ministry of Richard Baxter"

Friesen, Lynell.  "The Work and Thought of Richard Baxter"

Ravenhill, Leonard.  "Richard Baxter of Kidderminster"

The Richard Baxter Homepage

Roberts, Maurice.  "Richard Baxter and His Gospel"

Salisbury, Vance.  Richard Baxter: Mere Christian

Smithers, David.  "Richard Baxter - Prayer Makes History"


The Internet is an amazing place, and so is that part of the
Internet known as the World Wide Web.  You'll find lots of
good stuff there (part of the purpose of "CATI" is to show
you how), but there's lots of bad stuff as well (I'll let
you find that on your own).

But how do you filter out the bad stuff?  Well, there are
a number of software programs intended to help you do just
that.  No free software here (that I'm aware of), but for
many families purchasing such a program may indeed be a
wise investment.

Another approach is also available:  choosing an Internet
Service Provider or "ISP" who uses filtering.  My comments
are a bit dated now, but you'll find that option treated in
these articles:

Family-Safe Internet: ISPs that FIlter Content (Part One)

Family-Safe Internet: ISPs that FIlter Content (Part Two)

That information, however, is, as I said, now quite old
(the articles were published back when "CATI" was just in
its first year of publication), so some of the information
may now be out-of-date.  I hope to rectify that by having
a new article on ISPs that filter content sometime soon in
"CATI" (D.V.).  (The "D.V.," by the way, stands for the Latin
phrase deo volente, meaning "if God wills" or "Lord willing"
- see James 4:13-15.)

Also somewhat out-of-date (but perhaps of still interest of
some possible interest are these "CATI" articles on "filtering
software" used to filter out objectionable content:

PC Magazine: Utility Guide and Parental Filtering
(please ignore first half of article)

Consumer Reports Reports on Parental Control Software

The Web: PC Magazine Reviews Software to "Clean It Up"

More recent is this article:

Making the Internet More Family-Friendly by "Filtering"

I would recommend that you read that last mentioned article
(it's recent enough to still be very helpful) before you
read this one to give you some background on the filtering
approach (whether it's done by your ISP or done by software
installed on your own computer).  It's probably not really
required reading, but it does provide useful background.

What are some more current resources on the Web on "filtering"
programs?  That's what this article is all about!

Incidentally, these filtering programs are also sometimes
called "parental control software," presumably because by
using them parents can control what their children access
on the Internet.  But many of them can be used as well to
control the surfing habits of the (male?) parent (so the
Mom may given sole control over the password for the sake
of not only the kids, but also the Dad).

Woody Leonard has some thoughtful things to say in a short
chapter on "Proecting Your Children" in his book Windows XP
Timesaving Techniques for Dummies.

Digression:  Yes, I've got lots of the Dummies books - which
are not "just for dummies"  - but that's not the main reason
why I got this book.  Woody Leonhard is one of the most
helpful people around when it comes to Microsoft Windows or
Microsoft Office.  He puts out half a dozen free newsletters,
including Woody's Windows Watch, Woody's Office Watch, and
Woody's Office Watch for Mere Morals (WOW-MM is much less
technical than WOW) and he is a major authority on Windows
and Office.

Here is what he says about "Protecting Your Kids":  "A few
tools will help; but in the end, it's a question of how you
interact with your kids.  The phrase 'parental control'
rightfully belongs to parents - not software."  As I often
say, "Parents make the best parents."  The best software
cannot take the place of a Mom or a Dad who spend time with
their kids.

Thus he offers these "basic guidelines":

"Spend all the time you possibly can with your kids while
they're on the computer.  As Woody says, "Who knows.  They
may teach you something."

"Make sure that your kids understand what you expect - not
only in terms of where they can and cannot go on the Internet,
but also what information they're allowed to give out while
chatting or sending e-mail."  Or, rather, they need to know
what information they're NOT allowed to give out in chat
rooms or via e-mail (e.g., it's often unwise to give out
personal information, such as address or phone number).

"If you can, put the computer where people commonly walk by."
Our two computers are in the dining room, through which you
have to pass if you're going between the living room and the
kitchen (which themselves are the two most frequently used
rooms in the house).  Many people put the computer in the
living room.  The important thing is that it be a major
thoroughfare, frequently traveled.

"If you use parental control software to block accss to Web
sites, anticipate the likelihood that your kids will wonder
why they're being locked out - and spend an inordinate amount
of time trying to circumvent the rules."  As Woody says,
"They're kids.  That's their job."

(The preceding quotes are from pp. 299-302 of his book, which
was put out by Wiley Publishing, Inc., in 2003.  You can sign
up for his free newsletters at http://snipurl.com/5006 .)

If you recognize the limitations of parental control (or
"filtering") software and take care in selecting the product
that is best for you and your family, then it can indeed be a
helpful aid to protecting your family on the Internet.  So we
turn to the question, which product is best for you?

That's not a question that has a "one size fits all" kind of
answer.  Alhough some products are obviously better than some
others, the answer of what is best for you depends on a number
of circumstances (such as the number and ages of the children
that you have, whether you're concerned about chatrooms or
newsgroups in addition to the Web, etc.).

Here are two sites that contain information that are helpful
in comparing some of the available products:

2004 Internet Filter Review

Family Internet Safety

The former is a helpful review (primarily in chart format) of
ContentProtect 1.2, CYBERsitter 2003, Net Nanny 5.0, Cyber
Patrol 6.0, FilterPak 7.1, Cyber Sentinel, McAfee Parental
Controls, Cyber Snoop 4.0, and Child Safe 3.0.  The latter
(also primarily in chart format) is a somewhat helpful review
of S4F FilterPak, Cyber Sentinel, Kidsnet, BSafeonline, and
WeBlocker.  These are two places that let you see quickly how
some of the products vary in features.

Improved in usefulness since I wrote my earlier review of it
is this site:


Here is their stated goal:

"FilterReview.com [is] a resource provided by the National
Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families to
help you find the Internet safety solution that will
best suit your needs. We realize that selecting the
right ISP, filtering/blocking or monitoring systems is a
personal decision affected by your individual situation.
FilterReview.com is here to provide you with the information
you need to select the proper solution."

(Caution:  for some reason, the "www." seems necessary to get
to the site.)

If you use the "Quick Jump" at the top left on the Web page,
you'll see information on _sixty_ (60!) filtering products
(although the popular product Net Nanny is strangely
missing from that list).  The site is a helpful One (and
is recommended by Focus on the Family).

If you choose the "Search" tab, after you provide your name
and e-mail address you'll be asked to provide the details
of what you're after.  At that point FilterReview.com will
give you a list of software related to your specific goals.

Usually you can consult an overview (brief review of the
product) and read customer reviews (at least for some of
the products on the list).  You'll probably still have more
choices than you know what to do with, but it will help you
at least start narrowing them down, and with the additional
information from the previously-mentioned two articles with
the charts, you may narrow down your choices even further.

I'm not recommending any particular products, but one you
may perhaps want to consider is BSafe Online, which has
apparently the endorsement of Tim Wildmon of the American
Family Association and of James Dobson of Focus on the
Family (alhough I could not find confirmation of the latter
on the Focus on the Family Web site).

BSafe Online may be exactly what you want, or it could be
possible that another filtering device might offer more
features from which you could benefit.  I'm just suggesting
that you may want to consider it as one of the possible options.

On behalf of Bsafeonline, it should be said that it has gotten
good customer reviews in general at FilterReview.com:

FilterReview.com:  BSafeonline customer reviews

But that is also true of some other products.  Again, this is
not an endorsement.  Other programs may be as good or better.

Here are the home pages for eighteen of the more popular
parental control (i.e., "filtering") programs:

A+ Internet Filtering

The BAIR Filtering System

Bsafe Online

Child Safe

ChildWatch Web


Cyber Sentinel

Cyber Snoop





McAfee Parental Controls

Net Nanny

Norton Parental Controls (part of Norton Internet Security)

S4F (FilterPak and FilterCube)



One final thought:  If you do use "filtering" or "parental
control" software, I would love to hear about it (what product
you are using, what you like or don't like about the product,
etc.).  I may even ask permission to publish your comments in
"CATI."  Or why not post your comments among the customer
reviews at http://www.FilterReview.com/?  That way many 
people can benefit from your experience!


Like to know what this is?  This is the ninety-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").

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