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Wise words from Michael Horton:

Some Christians surf the net not only for vitamin supplements but for their meals.  All of this makes sense in an evangelicalism that is already disposed toward treating the physical aspects of reality as merely "external" (like a coat you can put on or take off) in contrast to the inner realm of the Spirit.  But as Christians we believe that the Word became flesh.  We aren't looking for out-of-body experiences, but for the God who still descends to us, binding us to his Son through such mundane matter as preaching, water, bread and wine. And like these means of grace, the communion of saints is also a tangible, earthly, embodied reality.  They are my brothers and sisters: not ideas, resources, or bloggers. It's a family dinner, not a drive-thru meal.

But does that mean that there's no place for the web?  Not at all, as long as we know its limits.  I'm glad there are highways when I want to get downtown, but I don't take Sunday strolls along it.

Imagine concentric circles.  At the widest, you have the rapid exchange of ideas and information.  Of course, there's nothing better than the Internet for that one.  I often go to Wikipedia for quick data on a person or date in history, but I'd never allow my students to cite Wikipedia as a source in their research papers.  That's because a research paper is more than information.

The next ring in on my concentric circles is for informal get-togethers with brothers and sisters in Christ, including conferences.

But the bulls-eye is the Lord's Day gathering of the covenant family, beneath the pulpit, at the font, and at the table.

All of this reminds me of that stanza in T. S. Eliot's "The Rock":

"Where is all the wisdom we have lost in knowledge and all the knowledge we have lost in information?"

Information is good.  Resources can set us on a wonderfully new track.  But what we'll always need most--in spiritual as well as domestic terms--is a good bath, a good meal, and a good word from our Father, in his Son, by his Spirit.  Nothing beats that.

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4 thoughts on “Don’t Take Sunday Strolls Along the Highway”

  1. Ryan Rudolph says:

    Very encouraging words.


  2. FAS says:

    When like gravity, the virtual beckons us (e.g. televised church, streaming sermons, online Christian dialogue) in lieu of the Lord’s Day service, what will overcome this pull to “neglect the gathering of the church”?

    Perhaps when Jesus told us to “eat My flesh and drink My blood, otherwise you have no life” (John 6:53) He literally meant it.

    Isn’t His real physical presence at His Lord’s Day table, that significant force?

    If not Him, what is?

  3. Richard says:

    Dr. Horton alsoo mentions works by Sherry Turkle–recommend you check out her latest book, “Alone Together.” It’s a pretty insightful critique of the internet and it effects on relationships.

  4. Joey says:

    Though not a tech-nut, I have seen how technology can be used to help maintain relationships, or at least keep them from degrading too fast. Nothing is a substitute for a face-to-face conversation.

    I wrote about that, especially in regards to parenting, here:

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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