My Reponse to Josh McDowell

Yesterday a number of you shared with me recent comments made by Josh McDowell, including his opinion that the Internet is the greatest threat to Christians.  It’s never helpful to attack anyone in the Church, and I respect Josh McDowell greatly.  (In fact, my non-profit’s online church in Poland distributes McDowell’s book More Than A Carpenter to new believers to whom our team ministers.)  I share this response to present a side of the issue that isn’t mentioned in The Christian Post article.

I agree with Josh McDowell when he states that many young “evangelical, fundamental, born-again Christians” believe “There is no truth apart from myself”.  While this is a watered-down worldview present in the Church that could be a result of youth being exposed to incorrect teaching online, this attitude also develops when we as parents fail to:

1) establish God’s Word as authority
2) exemplify Christ in our relationships and money or time expenditures
3) discuss the tough issues (sex, drugs, homosexuality, porn, addiction, etc.) with our kids before someone else does

When we don’t take responsibility for investing Godly influence in our kids’ lives, they search other sources for answers (particularly on the Internet).

…And this is why Church Online is a necessity! While I don’t know whether Josh McDowell mentioned online ministry in the speech referred to above, I will not pass up the opportunity to state that the plethora of anti-God information available online needs to be met with equal access to Truth.  The Church’s presence online is crucial.  When God’s word is shared on the Internet, we’re claiming territory for His Kingdom and glory.

Those of you who volunteer online know that countless times each week people ask spiritual questions and express doubt or fears related to God, many of them having never had the opportunity to discuss them face to face with a trusted grown-up during their formative years.  If a person didn’t feel comfortable discussing spiritual matters with caretakers as a teen, they aren’t likely to darken the door of a local church to get answers as an adult.

So rather than create division among believers over what is *truly* the greatest threat to Christians, let’s directly address how to shine our lights in the darkness around us online (without cutting off the Internet access in our homes).

The Internet is not going to disappear, and it’s our role to set healthy boundaries at work, home, and in our families to be responsible.  Tami & Toni of @LiveSticky say it well: …there is no need to renounce your residency in The Land of Shiny Things [the digital age] or mask the evidence of your connected life. There’s no shame. This is the hour to which you’ve been born—so by all means, power up! Just power up the way God wants you to. That means with God-breathed strategy; Holy Spirit power, and divine discernment.

One of my trusted resources for parenting wisdom in the digital age (which would not be available to me were it not for the Internet) is the blog of  my friend Chris Spradlin at EpicParent.tv. Take a look at Josh.org, too – where McDowell has a number of biblical resources to help you answer others’ (or your own) spiritual questions.  Finally, I want to share a project that is near to my heart, ThePornEvent.com, as a resource for people already struggling following exposure to the dark side of what’s available online.  

Do you think the Internet is our greatest threat?  If you allow your kids to get online, how do you navigate the issues presented here?

Thanks for joining the discussion,

Dana

PS – My prayer is that church online be available in every country around the globe so that people who are far from God would hear the Gospel in their own language.  Interested?  Check out my non-profit organization, which is already involved in projects in 28 different countries, BlueDoor.tv.

12 Responses to “My Reponse to Josh McDowell”

  1. Brian Notess July 19, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    Great response, Dana.

    My main issue with his interview was that he seemed to imply ( whether intentionally or not) that the Internet was somehow responsible for the moral and theological failings of my generation.

    The internet is just a tool that gives light to my moral and Theological failings :)

    As you mentioned, it can just as well be used to deliver life transforming truth.

  2. Faye July 19, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    What a thoughtful way to handle this! I agree that there are dangers inherent in the Internet. There are also dangers inherent in wine or the automobile or the airplane, but we don’t call those the greatest threat to Christians.

    According to scripture, the greatest threat to Christians is the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy — or one might argue that lukewarmness is the greatest enemy.

    At any rate, the Internet is a tool. A resource. It is something to be used by parents and grandparents to enhance the time they spend teaching their children and grandchildren. It is not a replacement. It’s not a nanny, hired to fulfill the role of parent in a child’s life.

    Like any tool, it needs to be used skillfully and with care. That means as parents and grandparents, we have to learn how to use it and use it well.

  3. Haden Coonan July 19, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    The Internet has not developed to the point of being able to create its own intelligence ala iRobot.. Everything on the Internet has either existed well before the internet or has been created by human beings to extend their own personal realm. To blame the internet for society’s problems is like blaming obesity on food.. Food doesn’t hold a gun to your head and demand to be eaten.. And the internet consumed in a responsible manner is healthy.. And it does not make any sense at all to shut off a tool to carry out the Great Commission!

  4. Phil Thompson July 19, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Hmmm..i wonder if Josh would have objected to the printing press if it were 1440?

  5. Terry Austin July 19, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    The church will respond to the Internet in the same way the church responded to the invention of the printing press. Some will be afraid and advocate avoidance. Others will see a better way to get God’s Word in the hands of more people. By the way, the printing press has been used to produce a great deal of evil as well.

  6. Candace July 19, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Josh is right about the HUGE downside to the net BUT there’s equally a HUGE upside and the quicker he jumps in with both feet like Rick Warren and other have, the BETTER:)

    The breakdown of the family and other core culture issues are the big culprits; the net just accelerates it’s decline.

    Great post Dana!

  7. Dana Byers July 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Thanks for chiming in, everyone! I love gaining your insight.

  8. Tim Schraeder July 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    PREACH!

  9. marvin July 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    How about if McDowell (and all Christians) becomes ‘proactive’ and say “Internet is the greatest tool in spreading the Good News to people around the world.”

  10. Lindsay July 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    Love. this. response.

    In an age where people seem to shoot from the hip and wound other Christians in their reactions, I appreciate the tone and content of this response.

    Love. you.

    Watching God work in and through you is…inspiring. Thank you for taking us along for the journey.

  11. Ben Reed July 20, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    Great response, Dana. I see the internet as an amoral tool…it’s neither good nor evil. “Good” or “evil” is in the hands of the user. We as the church should offer ample opportunities through the internet for people to connect with God and with the Church.

    Thanks for the thoughtful response.

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