Monthly Archives: June 2014

Modern Media:
Reflections on, and Guidelines for Using (2)

Three Basic Principles

Before we go on we should state three basic principles

First, no media or communications technology is inherently wrong, or evil.  They are simply tools used to communicate, obtain and share information, help us with our work, and build and maintain relationships.  Some indeed seem more wrong than others, because they are rarely used for acceptable purposes, but the devices themselves are not evil.  New developments in communications technology can be very useful, and like any other technology can be a great blessing for society.  Missionaries in South Korea use the radio to spread the gospel into North Korea, for example, and the Bible has never been so easy to obtain, and Bible study has never been so easy as with today’s technology.  But any technology can be abused and made into a snare, a curse.  This is equally true for books and smart phones, stone tablets and electronic tablets.  The internet is not inherently evil, but much of what it is used for is.  The same is true for books and newspapers, although the content published in these is under some degree of censorship and government control, and therefore in general not nearly as extreme.

Second, some media is more appropriate for certain messages than others.  Much has been written about this by thinkers such as Postman and McLuhan.  To some extent the medium constrains and shapes the message delivered by it, simply because each medium is limited by what content it can deliver, and in what format it delivers this content.  Different media also give different connotations to the message.  The Bible on your iPhone appears as no more than an app beside many other, very different apps–in book form, on the shelf, it (hopefully) has a more distinguished presence.  A sermon listened to on your iPod will not seem the same as one listened to in Church.  On another note, our communications tools shape more than the message–they shape us.  Our way of life has changed fundamentally with the advent of texting, gaming, virtual worlds, twitter, Craigslist, YouTube, Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram and Pinterest.

Third, there has always been a battle between the world and the church.  And in this battle the world has always encroached more and more into the church, and with it God’s Spirit has been increasingly grieved and withdrawn Itself.  Modern media developments have, unquestionably, made this process much, much more rapid and pervasive.  Evil influences that were always accessible via books and newspapers and movies are now very much more accessible.  Monitoring what our kids (parents, spouses?) are up to is increasingly difficult.  Put differently, you can say that the main use of many of these new technologies is not to foster a godly, separate life, but to conform and integrate us into the world.  Our continual exposure to secular and anti-Christian lifestyles through the internet and social networking acclimatizes and desensitizes us to sinful practices that we increasingly being to accept as normal, or at least as tolerable and acceptable.  This is a gradual, but continual process of threshold-lowering to what we realize is sinful and harmful to our souls.

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