Several years ago the Barna Research Group polled evangelical households. Their study found that Christians were just as likely to own VCRs as other Americans. Barna also discovered these families were just as likely to spend less time reading after bringing a VCR into the home. Is it any mystery why they pick up the Bible less often?
Mass media conditions the way society communicates -- how people expect a message to be formatted, how they interpret and derive its meaning. If you like this magazine with its bold colors, vivid photos and concise writing, then thank your TV set. Television has conditioned society to expect quick and visual communication.
Before, mass media always flowed in one direction, from communicator to audience. Now the information highway is poised to change all that, to make communications interactive. And as the printing press, telegraph, radio and TV changed society in their day, so will the information highway.
Yet one trend is already evident. As more people cross-communicate, information is traveling more widely, but is being understood less deeply. As one observer notes, a man with a computer can now access the topic "Shakespeare" and obtain instant references to Elizabethan politics or how the Globe Theater was constructed. But who is taking the time to actually read the plays?
For Christians who want a deeper understanding of their Bible, this is a disturbing trend. Through the Internet, you can access Bible maps, theological journals, archaeological studies, Christian event calendars. These are fine aids for study, but cyberspace is no substitute for the real Word.
The information highway offers both wonders and temptations. However, don't leave your Bible behind. Because to the Christian, "his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night" (Ps. 1:2).
For more information
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, along with the Interactive Services Association, has published a pamphlet "Child Safety on the Information Highway" that's available free of charge by calling 1-800-843-5678. The booklet also warns against another danger: computer addiction, and cautions parents to limit their children's online usage. That's also good advice for dads, because hours on the Internet can steal family time as easily as any TV football game.
Mark Ward is author of Air of Salvation: The Story of Christian Broadcasting (Baker Books, 1994). This article is reprinted from New Man magazine, the official magazine of Promise Keepers. Used by permission.