"Christians And The Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 5 No. 5:  May 7, 2004



The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed
on-line at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati94.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."


If you are interested in getting a classical education at
home, either for you or your children, here are two books that
you may find helpful:

Susan Wise Bauer, The Well-Educated Mind:  A Guide to the
Classical Education You Never Had (W.W. Norton & Company,
1993.  432 pp.

Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, The Well-Trained Mind: A
Guide to Classical Education at Home (W.W. Norton & Company,
1999).  764 pp.

And here is where you will find the Web site for one of
these two books:

The Well-Trained Mind

This is from the home page for that site:

"The Well-Trained Mind, a book published in 1999 by W.W.
Norton, serves as a resource for parents wanting to educate
their children according to the classical model of education.
This site complements the information in the book, providing
updated resources, articles, links, and other information
useful to parents who are actively involved in their family's

A revised edition of that book has just been published.

Here's the other Web site:

The Well-Educated Mind

This is from the home page for that site:

"The Well-Educated Mind offers brief, entertaining histories
of five literary genres — fiction, autobiography, history,
drama, and poetry — accompanied by detailed instructions on
how to read each type. The annotated lists at the end of each
chapter ... preview recommended reading and encourage readers
to make vital connections between ancient traditions and
contemporary writing."

Both sites include "message boards" and other "resources for

Who will find these books helpful?  Not only Christians who
are involved with "home schooling" (a topic I am now working
on for a future issue), but also parents who have children
enrolled in "classical Christian" schools, should find The
Well-Trained Mind to be very useful, while any adult, with
or without children, is likely to find The Well-Trained Mind
to be worthwhile.

I say this in spite of the fact that the books are definitely
not overtly Christian.  And yet Susan Wise Bauer includes
some interesting facts in her autobiographical account.

First, she was home schooled herself:

"My parents taught me at home for most of elementary and
middle school, and all of high school....  I was born in 1968,
grew up in Virginia, and was educated at home by pioneering
parents, back when home education was still unheard of.  I had
a wildly original education; I learned Latin at age ten...."

Second, the "wildly original education" was certainly not an
academic hindrance to her:

"I entered college at seventeen as a Presidential Scholar
and National Merit finalist, and finished my B.A. in five
semesters with a major in English, a minor in Greek and a
summer spent studying twentieth century theology as a Visiting
Student at Oxford."

Incidentally, most biographical accounts (including her own)
do not mention the interesting fact that it was at Liberty
University, Lynchburg, Virginia, that she earned her B.A.

Third, what may perhaps interest "CATI" readers most is
that she is a graduate of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia:

"I went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Westminster
Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where I added Hebrew
and Aramaic to my languages and took several Ph.D. seminars.
Westminster is famed as an academically rigorous and intensely
conservative theological institution; 1988, the year I
enrolled, was the first year their M.Div. program was open to
women.  I graduated at the top of my class, after becoming
Student Government vice-president (I'm told certain members of
the Board of Directors were appalled)."

Finally, he has continued her literature studies at the College
of William and Mary:

"In 1994, I completed the M.A. in English language and
literature at the College of William and Mary in Virginia....
I currently serve as adjunct faculty at William & Mary,
teaching American literature and the Bible as literature.
I am also a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies [at William
and Mary] with concentrations in American literature and the
history of American evangelicalism."

Here are two other Web sites of interest:

Susan Wise Bauer

On that site, here's some interesting reading:

"Seven Words You Can't Say in the CBA"
(CBA refers to the Christian Booksellers Association.)

Here's the other site:

Peace Hill Press
(This is the publisher of other Bauer books, but you may find
better prices elsewhere, although she encourages you to order
her books from Peace Hill Press or smaller merchants rather
than the mass-market dealers like Amazon.)

Both books have gotten rave reviews in the general press from
a variety of sources.  For example, this is what America:  A
Catholic Weekly had to say:
"If she’s not careful, Susan Wise Bauer will wind up a guru on
PBS. Her maiden name doesn’t hurt her chances, but neither do
her ideas, which are both erudite and down-to-earth, “wise”
yet in touch with the commonplace. If she talks the way she
writes - with spark and flair but also the right amount of
patience for a mass audience - this professor of American
literature at William and Mary may be facing floodlights in
her future.

Bauer’s book is not just sagacious, but also aptly timed. She
has already written - with her mother, Jenny Wise - The
Well-Trained Mind, on how to make K-12 home schooling work
fruitfully. Now she taps into the tremendous contemporary
hunger for adult learning, especially about the classics of
the Western past. In the last two decades, such figures as
Mortimer Adler [and] William Bennett ... have helped to
create this market. Bauer threatens to corner it...."

"The author’s lists of choices for “great books” are gutsy.
anyone can debate such lists; provocation is part of the fun
of drawing them up, and Bauer is no slouch at it....  Bauer
provides good synopses for her selections and runs them right
up to the present...."

"Throughout the book, Bauer also tackles the challenges posed
to each genre by postmodernism, but demurs from its First
Commandment, 'There is no god but Theory and thou shalt have
no intellectual respectability without it.' Bauer is a real
rebel; she does not mistake the last century of cranky
half-truths from Frankfurt garrets and Sorbonne cafes for
2,500 years of philosophical aesthetics. All her genres
include not only Dead White Males but also authors far beyond
that usual cast of suspects....

"Bauer is concerned not only with the major challenges posed
by 'postliterate culture' but also the minor ones.  She
engages not just Theory but nitty-gritty problems like finding
the time to read and focus, on which she provides pleasant
little vignettes from her harried (and married-with-children)
life. She advises readers not to be surprised that sustained
reading is hard work: We all walk, yes, but putting one foot
in front of the other is not the same as running a marathon.
A good coach, she wants her trainees to be realistic...."


And Publisher's Weekly had this to say:

"For serious self-educators, it's a well-balanced,
long-lasting reading program. For book-clubbers, it's a
brilliant guide on to how to analyze any given literary
work — even if it's not on Bauer's list. And for college
students in trouble, it's a quick gloss of books there
wasn't time to read, plus sound advice on spotting critical
fallacies. ... Bauer has crafted a timeless, intelligent

At any rate, if you are at all serious about a classical
education at home, whether for yourself or for your children,
these two books by Susan Wise Bauer - along with the related
Web sites - are an important resource.



If you're not a Webmaster, skip over this article.  Or, even
better, give a copy to your local Webmaster (e.g., the person
who is in charge of the Web site for your local church).

Sometimes spammers purchase lists of e-mail addresses, but
another way they get e-mail addresses is to make use of
SpamBots (spamming robots, "spider" programs that visit a
Web site and harvest the e-mail addresses that are there).

There are a number of ways a Webmaster can protect e-mail
addresses on his site against SpamBots (spamming robots,
"spider" programs that visit a Web site and harvest the
e-mail addresses there).

The method that I've worked with thus far is primarily the
manipulating of HTML code to make it difficult for such
harvesting to take place.  My revised version of the program
is a significant improvement over the earlier version, but
there's no guarantee that someone won't sooner or later come
up with a way to decode what my new program does.  (Make that
"sooner" rather than "later" - see the P.S. at the end of
this article.)

But there are other approaches, e.g., adding Javascript to the
HTML or resorting to server-side solutions, e.g., CGI (Perl,
PHP).  Webmasters differ in level of expertise (although many
of these techniques can be used without your really knowing
what you're doing) or in how many e-mail addresses they need
to encode, but here is an annotated list of some resources on
the Web to prevent the harvesting of e-mail addresses from a
Web site (feel free to skip to the final few paragraphs of this
letter, if you prefer):

Uses only one technique of what we use on one Web site; the
"Decript whole page" in the new version of my program can
decrypt pages encrypted by Obfuscator.exe.

ECM--Email Countermeasures
Uses only one technique of what we use on one Web site; the
"Decript whole page" in the new version of my program can
decrypt pages encrypted by their encoder.

EmailAddresses.com: Mailto Encoder
Uses only one technique of what we use on one Web site; the
"Decrypt whole page" in the new version of my program can
decrypt pages encrypted by their Mailto Encoder.  Interesting
is their comment:  "There is an effective solution to the
problem. It's free, easy to implement and - most importantly
- it works! I have been using it on several of my sites for
several years, and receive virtually no spam at all at the
protected addresses."

Dreamweaver Fever:  Encoded Email Address Harvester
This page is fun, but scary (although not as scary as the one
at the end of this article)!  Enter a URL and watch it harvest
the e-mail addresses, even if they are encoded.  It was able
to handle the first version of my program, but not the revised
version (but see the P.S. below).


Javascript.internet.com: Spambot Countermeasure
As you might expect, this page provides a Javascript solution.

Danjo Creations: Hidden Email Address
Once again, a Javascript approach.

Hiveware Enkoder Form 6.0
Works online to produce Javascript code for an email address.
Great program!

CGI (Perl and PHP):

Master Spambot Buster
A free CGI program written in Perl.  Looks promising.

EmbiMEDIA: PHP Email Address Encoder
PHP is an alternate language to Perl; both languages run on
the server.  I have not yet tested this script.

SpamBot Trap
A free CGI program in Perl.  It "tries to trap Internet robots
looking for e-mail and snail-mail addresses in an infinite
loop." I don't know how effectively it works, and I would want
to know more about it before I used such a script.


Save Your Site from Spambots
Although this article by Steven Champeon also deals with HTML
encoding (which we use on one Web site) and Javascript, its
main concentration is what can be done on an Apache server
(which many sites are on.)  He also says, "One tactic I do
recommend is the use of spamtraps — addresses that you
control, but that have no other use besides catching spammers.
I have several unpublished freemail accounts that receive
nothing but spam, which I then report to the appropriate


Spambot Beware: Avoidance - HTML Tricks
This and the next are great resources.  This page deals with
techniques relating to the Web page itself:  "Mailto tags,
Using a graphic, Using HTML entities, Spelling it out, Fun
with tables, Pull down menus, Javascript, Java, and Using a
feedback form."

Spambot Beware: Avoidance - CGI Tricks
This and the preceding are great resources.  This page deals
with techniques relating to the server.  It deals, however,
with only two CGI scripts:  "The Nomailto Program and Post

www.sternidae.com: How can I protect mail-to links from
A great resource.  "There are five techniques that you can
use, which I describe on separate pages: Simple obfuscation
with character substitution and images, Hiding it with
Javascript, Sacrificial email addresses, Server side coding,
and Filtering."

NetMechanic:  Hide from Email Spiders
Suggests these techniques:  1. Use Special HTML Characters,
2. Hide Email Addresses With JavaScript, and 3. Use A Comment
Form With CGI Script.

Obfuscating e-mail addresses
A simple technique involving Javascript and (for those who
cannot handle Javascript) an online form.  What is interesting
is this claim:  "So how effective is this method? Well, I
have several e-mail addresses that appear on web sites. I
receive hundreds of spam messages every month to these
addresses, largely I believe due to the work of spambots. But
there is one exception. The e-mail address I use on this site
has been protected using the method I describe here almost
since the site went live. I receive no more than one or two
junk e-mails to this address in any month, and to date I have
always had evidence to indicate that the address was obtained
by means other than harvesting from the pages of this site.
That seems a pretty good return from such a simple method."

DevNewz: Follow Up: Killing The SpamBot Spiders
Two techniques: Use Javascript To Mask Email Addresses and
Hide Behind A Contact Form.

WebProNews.com: Baffling The Spambot Harvesters
Brief comments on techniques for Keeping the Harvesters Away and
Hiding the Email Address.

P.S.  After writing the above, I have had increasing doubt about
the effectiveness of an HTML-only approach to protecting e-mail
addresses on Web sites.  I recommend that you test a Web page
containing e-mail addresses by going to the Web address and
typing in the URL of the page you are testing:


As I wrote to someone recently, "So in spite of the fact that
many people recommend it with one technique or another (and I
used a combination of four!), it would seem that 'obfuscation'
of e-mail addresses  on the HTML level is a lost cause."

I'm now experimenting with a server-side solution.  If it
works reasonable well, I may tell you about it in a future


While I'm on the topic of "confession," let me confess up
front that this article should not be taken as much more
than a serious "thinking out loud" about a serious topic.
Throughout my Christian life I have met from time to time
examples of what seemed to be to be abuses of the confessing
of sins to one another.  I believe at the very least strong
caution should be observed and care taken to not go beyond
Biblical guidelines.  You may or may not come to my own
particular conclusions (I may later disagree with some of
them myself), but whereas we should be "quick to speak" in
confessing our sins to God, I think there is wisdom to "be
slow to speak" (James 1:19) when confessing our sins to one
another, for I believe there are times when that may indeed
be improper or unhelpful.  At any rate, I present my thoughts
to you, "warts and all."

What does it mean to "confess your sins to one another"?  The
words are found in Scripture (James 5:16), but in a rather
specific context (the sick man calling for the elders of the
church to pray over him and anoint him).  The Bible clearly
calls us to confess our sins (e.g., see 1 John 1:9).  But to
what extent are we to confess our sins to one another?

I raise the question, since it is sometimes considered to be
a virtuous thing for people to open up and share their own
personal sins with one another; those who do not do so are
sometimes considered "second-class Christians" who are thus
failing to be obedient to Scripture.

How much then are we called to share our personal spiritual
struggles and to whom?  If "it is shameful even to mention
what the disobedient do in secret" (Ephesians 5:12), then
it would appear that certain personal sins ought not be a
part of public (or even small group) discussion.

As a Christian, I have been much helped by the Biblical
expositions of John R.W. Stott, starting with his book Basic
Christianity.  Another book I found very helpful is his book
Confess Your Sins, one of the most extensive treatments of
the subject I have seen.  Here is the guideline that Stott
argues for in that book:

"The principle which we have sought to establish is that sin
must be confessed only to the person or persons who have been
offended and from whom forgiveness is therefore desired.
Confession is never to a third party, both because he has not
been offended, and because he is not in a position to forgive
the sin....  If the sin has been committed against God, it
should be confessed to God secretly; if it has been committed
against the church it should be confessed to the church

Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 are prayers of David that relate to his
sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah (see 2 Samuel 11.)  But
note that that David does not go into the specifics in his
confession of sin; we would not even know from the Psalms
that David's sins were adultery and murder.  The Apostle
Paul seems to be equally reticent in confessing his sins.  In
fact, the only confession I can think of at the moment is 1
Corinthians 15:9 where he confesses persecuting the Church of
God, but the sin was committed before Paul became a Christian.

All of our sins, of course, should be confessed to God; that
is not under dispute (see, for example, many Psalms, including
Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 - note Psalm 51:4, "Against you, you
only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight...,")
emphasizing that all sin is ultimately against God and should
be confessed to Him).  What is under dispute is how much of
our personal sin ought to be confessed to other people.  Are
we to share the intimate details of our personal spiritual
struggles with people who are not involved, or are we to be
more restrictive in the confessing of our sins?

I may be wrong, but I think that the wholesale confession of
sin which is sometimes encouraged seems to me to be more
related to the teaching and influence of Buchmanism than to
the teaching of the New Testament.  "Buchmanism" is a term
that is largely unknown to most Christians, especially those
who are younger, but whether of not the term is well-known,
the Buchmanite approach toward the confession of sin has in
fact influenced many Lutherans and Reformed Christians,
particularly in the tradition of pietism in its tendency
to emphasize experience over a careful application of the
Bible to our experience.

Note well:  I am NOT accusing Christians who openly share
the personal spiritual struggles and personal sins as being
"Buchmanites."  What I am suggesting, however, is that the
wholesale confession of sin - and you are welcome to disagree
with me on this - is a practice more at home in Buchmanism
than it is in Biblical Christianity.  I myself do not find
significant support for it either in the Scriptures or in
Christian biography and autobiography throughout the history
of the church.  (You may see, of course, some confession of
personal sin in what were written originally as private

I do believe that it is possible for people to be influenced
by Presbyterian pietism and not necessarily be aware of any
influence of Buchmanism on Presbyterian pietism.  And who
knows?  What I regard to be a wrong practice may have come
from a different source, in spite of the significant (but
today little-known) influence of Buchmanism (especially
through the "12 steps" of Alcoholics Anonymous and other
12-step groups).

At any rate, let me explicitly state that Buchmanism taught
many errors for which I'm sure "CATI" readers have no
sympathy.  And if you do in fact favor the general practice
of Christians confessing their sins to one another without
making Stott's distinctions, there are certainly many other
evangelical Christians who would follow you in that area
(such as Promise Keepers who, as I understand it, encourage
men to confess their sins to other men, especially if it's
"a guy thing, for they believe that "A Promise Keeper is
committed ... to pursuing vital relationships with a few
other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help
him keep his promises.")

But let me provide some significant background material on
"Buchmanism" from the Internet (the name may be unfamiliar,
but not the practices, as you will shortly see):
The movement originated in the fertile brain of the Rev.
Dr. F. Buchman, a Lutheran minister, and was known at first
as Buchmanism; but latterly, after it had gained a foothold
in one of England's great universities, it has been labeled
the "Oxford Group." It has made quite a stir in the eastern
section of the United States and in certain parts of Canada.
It has received unqualified approval in some of the
Reformed Churches, while in others it is a subject of lively
controversy. Lutherans are also divided over the movement.
Some heartily endorse it; others condemn it; and still others
reserve judgment upon it. Consequently, it might be well for
us to examine it....

Their methods are ... questionable. These methods as noted
above are sharing and guidance....  This sharing is .... is
somewhat similar to the Roman Catholic confessional, but
differs from it in that the confession is reciprocal.

The Scriptural basis on which it is founded is insufficient,
viz., James 5:16, 'Confess your faults one to another, and
pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual
fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.' Students
of the Bible know that this verse no more teaches the
confession of sins in general, one to another, than the
fourteenth verse of this same chapter teaches Extreme
Unction, of which the Roman Catholic theologians make it
the sedes doctrinae....

Further, the whole tendency of the movement is toward
separatism. It reminds one of the Pietistic movement with
their conventicles, their little Church within the Church,
which bore such fruit. The Pietists had the same end in view
as this modern movement; but their subjectivism ran to seed,
and in the end the results were disastrous. This also
encourages the Pharisaic spirit. Those who count themselves
among the 'changed' will naturally look down upon those who
are not so fortunate in their eyes and will have something
of that spirit of the Pharisees who looked down upon the
common people with contempt and said, 'But this people who
knoweth not the law are cursed.'

The movement, if continued sufficiently long, is bound to
result in a cleavage in the Church and in a lowering of the
Church's confessional position, and in a loosening of hold
upon the great doctrines of Redemption, and is a standing
reflection upon the Church's ordinary method of applying the
Means of Grace...."


That was the perspective of a Lutheran.  In a moment I'll cite
similar thoughts from a Presbyterian perspective, but first
let me provide another example besides John R.W. Stott that
James 5:16 (as I would think would be obvious from the
context, which speaks of the elders and physical sickness
and healing) does not teach a general confession of sins by
Christians to one another.

Here's a note on James 5:16 from the new Spirit of the
Reformation Study Bible:  "5:16 confess your sins.  James
is not advocating that Christians confess their sins to
one another under normal circumstances, but rather that
they should confess to the elders, when these sins are
the possible reason for their illness.... [See] 1 Cor.

Church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette has also commented
on the significant influence of Buchmanism:

"What is variously called Buchmanism, from its founder, and
the Oxford Groups, or simply the Groups, has had wide vogue
in some Protestant circles."

That includes Presbyterianism.  The observation was made
earlier that Buchmanism "has received unqualified approval
in some of the Reformed Churches, while in others it is a
subject of lively controversy."  Here is some interesting
background from "A Brief History of the Bible Presbyterian
Church and Its Agencies":

"The rise of the apostasy in the 20th century is the result
of an educational process which has been going on for over
one hundred years and which has reached tremendous
proportions in the last forty or fifty years. It is the
seminary today that determines what the church will be
tomorrow. As go the seminaries today, so go the churches in
the next generation....

"At first the changes were slight, but Princeton veered
farther and farther from the Word of God....  The Rev. Dr.
John A. Mackay was elected third president of Princeton
Seminary in 1936....  Dr. Mackay had written a number of
articles in 1933 praising the 'Oxford Group Movement' or
'Buchmanism' and 'Barthianism,' and presented them both
as Christian movements...."

The American Presbyterian Church likewise criticizes the
promoting of Buchmanism by Princeton Seminary President
John Mackay:

"The same tendency to emphasize experience rather than the
Bible as the norm for Christian life is manifest in Dr.
Mackay's endorsement of Buchmanism, a movement which includes
men and women of all shades of thought and belief and which
judges the validity of a person's religion by the quality of
his 'changed life' experience. In opposition to this point of
view the Princeton of old fought, and fought vigorously, to
show the vagaries of human experience in all of its subtleties
and to demonstrate that human experience, instead of being a
guide in religion, must itself be tested and judged by the

The influence of Buchmanism at the time can be seen in an
article entitled "Buchmanism: An Appraisal," published in
The Evangelical Student, a magazine of the League of
Evangelical Students, in 1933, after the founding of
Westminster Seminary.  That it had a significant influence
upon Princeton in particular can be seen in Disastrous
Disturbances: Buchmanism and Student Religious Life at
Princeton, 1919-1935," a doctoral dissertation by Daniel

Although most people are not aware of it, Buchmanism had a
tremendous influence upon Alcoholics Anonymous and other
twelve-step programs:

"The practices of the Oxford Group were:
1) Admission of personal defeat (you have been defeated by
2) Taking of personal inventory.
3) Confession of one's defects to another person.
4) Making restitution to those one has harmed.
5) Helping others selflessly.
6) Praying to God for the power to put these precepts into
These were also the original six steps of Alcoholics
Anonymous, before the group even had that name. Some of the
very early AA members mention these original six steps in
the "Big Book", Alcoholics Anonymous.  In December, 1938,
while writing the Big Book, Bill W[ilson] simply rewrote
the Buchmanism steps and practices, very verbosely, adding
enough words to change the six or seven steps into twelve."

Meanwhile, as Dr. Sack observes, "In the decade after World
War I Buchman developed a network of young followers on
prestigious university campuses in America and Britain," so
the movement had a continuing influence there as well (at
least for a time). In later years the movement was reborn
as Moral Rearmament (MRA).

The practice of open and mutual confession of sin is central
to Buchmanism (and perhaps important in the experience of
those who have gone though Alcoholics Anonymous or other
twelve-step programs), even though it is NOT central to
traditional Christian belief and practice (but seen more
frequently in groups which tend to favor "life," "love,"
and "experience" over doctrine, truth, and being careful to
understand and obey the teaching of Scripture):

"...the Buckmanites gather in so-called "house parties, " and
"share" their inner secrets....  Both the [Roman Catholic who
goes to confession] and the Buchmanite feel a great sense of
'relief,' after the confessions. Indeed, the Buchmanites make
a great parade of testimonies of those whose lives have been
'changed' through this process of 'sharing.' Certainly! But
John Bunyan, in the seventeenth century gave the right name
to Buchmanism: 'Changing Sins'; -that is, exchanging one
sin for another. It is not by unburdening my conscience to
my fellow man, whether 'priest' or friend, that peace with
God, and eternal safety come; but by deep conviction of
both my guilt and my helplessness-of my lost state; and
revelation to me, by the Spirit, of the shed blood of Christ
as my only refuge and hope, -a Christ who bore God's wrath
against sin, and provided the only ground on which a holy
God can deal with guilty man. Resting in God's Word about His
Son whom He raised from the dead, I have salvation."

Many Bible-believing Christians consider "Buchmanism" to be a

"As for the Oxford Group/Moral Rearmament, a number of
evangelical writers have written on it, identifying it as
a cult (see, for examples, Spittler's Cults and Isms, Van
Baalan's The Chaos of Cults, Irvine's Heresies Exposed, and
Gaebelein's Buchmanism).

(That is NOT the same thing, of course, as saying that Christians who
treat the confession of sin in a similar way to Buchmanism are
themselves heretical or a cult.)

What guidelines do I personally find helpful in the area of
confessing our sins to other?  I believe that excellent
advice can be found here in Richard Baxter's Christian
Directory.  For an introduction to Richard Baxter, check out
this article in the previous issue of "CATI":

Richard Baxter: 17th-century Christian and Reformed Pastor

And here's the section on how to "confess your sins to one

Cases and Directions About Confessing Sins and Injuries to Others.
    by Richard Baxter

At points the "King James English" may make it difficult to
follow (Baxter wrote in the 17th century, the century in which
the King James Bible came into existence), but here is what
Baxter advises:

"Quest. ... In what cases is it a duty to confess wrongs to
those that we have wronged?

"Answer. 1. When in real injuries you are unable to make
any restitution, and therefore must desire forgiveness, you
cannot well do it without confession. 2. When you have
wronged a man by a lie, or by false witness, or that he
cannot be righted till you confess the truth. 3. When you
have wronged a man in his honour or fame, where the natural
remedy is to speak the contrary, and confess the wrong.
4. When it is necessary to cure the revengeful inclination
of him whom you have wronged, or to keep up his charity,
and so to enable him to love you and forgive you.
5. Therefore all known wrongs to another must be confessed
[to that person], except when impossibility, or some [ill]
effect which is greater than the good, be like to follow.
Because all men are apt to abate their love to those that
injure them, and therefore all have need of this remedy.
And we must do our part to be forgiven by all whom we have


So, like John R.W. Stott, Baxter believes that in general
personal sin against another person should be confessed to
that person (the question is, when should we "confess
wrongs to those that we have wronged"?).  But even here
Baxter sees some exceptions:

"Quest. II. What causes will excuse us from confessing wrongs
to others?

"Answer. 1. When full recompense may be made without it and
no forgiveness of the wrong is necessary from the injured,
nor any of the aforesaid causes require it. 2. When the
wrong is secret and not known to the injured party, and the
confessing of it would but trouble his mind, and do him more
harm than good. 3. When the injured party is so implacable
and inhumane that he would make use of the confession to the
ruin of the penitent, or to bring upon him greater penalty
than he deserveth. 4. When it would injure a third person
who is interested [i.e., involved] in the business, or
bring them under oppression and undeserved misery. 5. When
it tendeth to the dishonour of religion, and to make it
scorned because of the fault of the penitent confessor.
6. When it tendeth to set people together by the ears, and
breed dissension, or otherwise injure the commonwealth or
government. 7. In general, it is no duty to confess our sin
to him that we have wronged, when, all things considered,
it is like in the judgment of the truly wise, to do more
hurt than good for it is appointed as a means to good, and
not to do evil."


Baxter even deals with sins that are committed in the mind but
not in actual practice:

"Quest.  ...If I have had a secret thought or purpose to wrong
another, am I bound to confess it, when it was never executed?

"Answer. 1. You are not bound to confess it to the party whom
you intended to wrong, as any act of justice to make him
reparation; nor to procure his forgiveness to yourself:
because it was no wrong to him indeed, nor do thoughts and
things secret come under his judgment, and therefore need not
his pardon. 2. But it is a sin against God, and to him you
must confess it. 3. And by accident, finis gratia, you must
confess it to men, in case it be necessary to be a warning
to others, or to the increase of their hatred of sin, or
their watchfulness, or to exercise your own humiliation,
or prevent a relapse, or to quiet your conscience, or in
a word, when it is like to do more good than hurt."


Here's a specific example of such a situation.  If someone
in the congregation has a lustful thought toward another
person in the congregation, he is not required to confess
his sin, his lustful thought, to that person.  In most cases,
the results of such a confession would do more harm than good
(and could possibly even lead to the sinful thought becoming
a sinful deed - confession of lascivious thoughts may easily
lead to licentious actions).

Back to Baxter:

"Quest. ...To whom, and in what cases, must I confess to men
my sins against God, and when not?

Answer. The cases about that confession which belongeth to
church discipline, ... shall here be passed by. But briefly
and in general, I may answer the question thus....  The
reasons which may move you to confess your sins to another
are these: 1. When another hath sinned with you, or persuaded
or drawn you to it, and must be brought to repentance with
you. 2. When your conscience hath in vain tried all other
fit means for peace or comfort, and cannot obtain it, and
there is any probability of such advice from others as may
procure it. 3. When you have need of advice to resolve your
conscience, whether it be sin or not, or of what degree, or
what you are obliged to in order to forgiveness. 4. When you
have need of counsel to prevent the sin for the time to come,
and mortify the habit of it.

"The inconveniences which may attend it, are such as these:
1. You are not certain of another's secrecy; his mind may
change, or his understanding fail, or he may fall out with
you, or some great necessity may befall him to drive him to
open what you [told] him. 2. Then whether your shame or loss
will not make you repent it, should be foreseen. 3. And how
far others may suffer in it. 4. And how far it will reflect
dishonour on religion. All things being considered on both
sides, the preponderating reasons must prevail....


"Inconvenience" in King James English meant something like
"harm, injury, or mischief" or "misfortune or trouble,"
according to the Oxford English Dictionary.  The term had
a more serious meaning than the way we use the term at the
present time.

Thus there is some allowance to confess your sin to a
non-involved person for the sake of advice or counsel
(such as a trusted pastor or mature elder), but even
here care must be taken to avoid doing more harm than
good.  And it would seem to me to be questionable to
seek "counsel to prevent the sin for the time to come
and mortify the habit of it" from someone else who is
still personally struggling with that particular sin.

Well, that's where I am in my own particular study of
this issue at the moment, and I submit my thoughts to
you in the hope that they may be helpful to you, whether
or not you fully adopt them.  The important part of what
I have said is in the Biblical principles as set forth by
Stott and Baxter rather than the question of the historical
details I have included.

Two things I think we can all agree on are these:  (1) that
we are to come to God in true repentance, confessing our
sins to Him (1 John 1:9), and (2) that we are to come to
God in true faith, confessing before others our trust in
Jesus as Savior and Lord (Romans 10:9-10).


Just got this in from a "reliable" source. It seems there is
a virus called the "Senile Virus" that even Norton Anti-virus
and McAfee Anti-virus cannot take care of, so be warned. The
virus appears to affect those of us who were born before 1955.
(And, yes, the following virus warning came via e-mail.)

         Symptoms of the Senile Virus:

1. Causes you to send the same e-mail twice.
2. Causes you to send a blank e-mail.
3. Causes you to send e-mail to the wrong person.
4. Causes you to send e-mail back to the person who sent it to
5. Causes you to forget to attach attachments.
6. Causes you to hit "SEND" before you've finished the e-mail.


I don't remember if I sent this one out. . . .  I don't think
I did . . . uh, or did you send it to me?

Funny, I don't remember being absent minded . . .

God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked
anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the
eyesight to tell the difference.

Now that I'm "older" (but refuse to grow up), here's what I've

1. I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.

2. My wild oats have turned into prunes and All Bran.

3. I finally got my head together; now my body is falling

4. Funny, I don't remember being absent minded. . .

5. Funny, I don't remember being absent minded. . .

6. If all is not lost, where is it?

7. It is easier to get older than it is to get wiser.

8. Funny, I don't remember being absent minded. . .

9. Some days you're the dog; some days you're the hydrant.

10. Or, some days you're the pigeon; other days you're the

11. I wish the buck stopped here; I sure could use a few.

12. Funny, I don't remember being absent minded. . .

13. It's hard to make a come-back when you haven't been

14. The only time the world beats a path to your door is when
you're in the bathroom.

15. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them
on my knees.

16. When I'm finally holding all the cards, why does everyone
decide to play chess?

17. Funny, I don't remember being absent minded. . .

18. It's not hard to meet expenses . . . they're everywhere.

19. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the

20. These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the
hereafter.  I go somewhere to get something and then wonder
what I'm here after.

21. I am unable to remember if I have mailed this to you or

22. Funny, I don't remember being . . . uh, what's it called?
Oh, yeah, . . . . absent minded.

Now, I think you're supposed to send this to 5 or 6, maybe 8, maybe
10, oh, drat, just send it to a bunch of your friends if you can
remember who they are. Then something is supposed to happen. . . I
think. Maybe you get your memory back or something! I think. . . .


You've probably seen some of the many books "... for Dummies"
that are around as well as the various Idiot's Guides.  You
probably have NOT seen, however, a series of books that cost
half as much and, in my opinion, are often better as basic
introductions to different computer topics.

Some Christians see learning about computers as part of
the fulfilling of the "cultural mandate."  We are called
to use whatever technical expertise we have (or come to
have) to use creation (including technology, computers,
the Internet, etc.) for the good of our fellow man and
to the glory of God.  The specifics vary, however, with
individuals, so if you're not interested in books on
computer topics, feel free to skip this article.)

I'm talking about the "In Easy Steps" books, which sell for
$9.95 or less each (most computer books cost twenty or thirty
dollars, some even more), but you haven't seen them in your
local bookstore, unless that bookstore happens to be Barnes
& Noble, because these books are exclusive to Barnes & Noble.
They are also available on-line (not everyone has a nearby
B & N), which is why I include them here in this newsletter.

Here's a list of some of the titles:

Dreamweaver MX in Easy Steps
Flash MX in Easy Steps
HTML in Easy Steps
Internet in Easy Steps
Internet Security in Easy Steps
Javascript in Easy Steps
Office XP Professional in Easy Steps
Paint Shop Pro in Easy Steps
Perl in Easy Steps
PHP in Easy Steps
Visual Basic in Easy Steps
Visual Basic.Net in Easy Steps
Web Graphics in Easy Steps
Web Page Design in Easy Steps
Windows XP in Easy Steps
Windows XP Tips & Tricks in Easy Steps
XHTML in Easy Steps

Those are the titles which thus far I have added to my own
personal library, but there are more in the series, such as
books on digital photography, Photoshop, and Microsoft
Works.  The books are easy-to-read, colorful large quality
paperbacks of a couple hundred pages each.

The series has gotten very positive reviews.  "The simple
explanations and practical use deserve applause...," says
Internet Magazine.  "Excellent, practical, clearly written,
good value," says the London Sunday Times.  "This is one
of the best...," says PC Home magazine.  And so on.

Right now you can order them on-line with free shipping
and a slight discount.  Here's the Barnes & Noble Web
page to check out for the Barnes & Noble "In Easy
Steps" series (available only from Barnes & Noble):

Barnes & Noble:  In Easy Steps Series


P.S. If you're involved (or even thinking of getting involved)
with a personal or church Web site, the best book I have seen
thus far on learning HTML and XHTML (used to create Web pages)
was written by an evangelical Christian, chalk artist, and
novelist who the last I knew was working on the screenplay for
a movie to be based on his latest novel.  I hope to say more
about that in a future issue.


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