Monthly Archives: February 2014

Modern Media:
Reflections on, and Guidelines for Using (1)

Why this?

Why did we write this document?  We are not writing to be judgemental or legalistic.  Nor do we at all claim to have “the answer” to what is right and wrong.  In fact, we would much appreciate being corrected if we state things that are not accurate, or unclear, or poorly argued.  But our motive is this: There have been many developments in media and communications technology that have completely changed the way of life in our Reformed communities.  The computer was one such device, the mobile phone a second, and the internet a third…  Twenty years ago few of us had, or needed them.  Now most of us (including our pre-teen children) fully depend and cannot imagine life without them.  These devices have become completely engrained in our lifestyles.  We need to step back, therefore, and ask ourselves some hard questions.  Not so much if we should accept these new technological developments–we already have–but to ask what uses of these technologies are acceptable and what uses are not, and how we can determine this.

 Modern Media

What do we mean with “modern media“?  If with a “medium” we understand a device and tool used to communicate with other people, or obtain information, then “old media” would include newspapers, magazines, books, and telephones.  “Modern media” then includes both physical devices such as computers, tablets, and smart phones, but more importantly those technologies that make use of these physical devices–such as the internet and the many programs that are based on the internet.

Sections to come: “Three Basic Principles”, “Some Basic Guidelines”, and “Conclusion”.

The Best of the Web (1)

For those interested in Church History and theology, the internet is a treasure trove.  Here are a number of sites you will want to check out.

Many (thousands!) rare and difficult to obtain works have been scanned in recent years and can be found at Internet Archive, Google Books, and Project Gutenberg, and downloaded for free.

Those interested in Puritan works need look no further than Puritan Library and The Digital Puritan, where you can browse by author.

A wider range of literature is available at the Post Reformation Digital Library and the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College and the Theological Commons at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Some sites are more or less specific to an author, such as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, or Philpot and Huntington.

If you are looking for more general classic books, a good resource is The Online Books Page.  Those interested in theological works in Dutch should visit  And for those looking to buy rare, used books, have a look at AbeBooks, which gives you access to thousands of bookstores at once.

Of course, this is only scratching the surface–there are so many other sites offering so many other good books–more than you can ever read in a lifetime.  And of course the web gives you access to poor quality books with equal ease, but that is inevitable.

Martin Luther once said that other than God’s salvation to mankind, the printing press is probably the best gift that God has ever given to man1.  Imagine how effusive he would have been about the libraries mentioned above!  Like the printing press, the internet as a technology is not inherently evil but has an incredible potential for good!

1 Source

Church Telephone

Last year our church changed its church phone service.  With about 118,000 Google search results, 1-267-507-0240 is obviously a common conference call number.  Dial the number, enter the pin you received and you are connected.  Simple.

Unfortunately, 267 is a Pennsylvania area code so the long distance charges could add up.  For a cell phone without a long distance plan the rates could be about $0.50 per minute resulting in about $45 per service!  It is recommended to obtain a long distance plan.

Two internet based options include Skype and Google Voice.

Skype: Unlimited calls to landlines and mobiles in Canada and the US for $2.99/month.  Skype can be installed on your smartphone and use your 3G or WiFi connection.

Google Voice is free for all calls within Canada and the US.  It might need to be activated:  Unfortunately, Google Voice is currently limited in Canada.  Smartphones can still use the Google Voice service in Canada by using third-party apps such as Mo+ PHONE for iPhone or Android.  Although it appears Google is terminating these third-party apps in a few months.