Imagine, if you will, a cyberworld where every Christian is sharing his or her faith, where pornographers are in the poor house, and where junk e-mail is a thing of the past.
Is this a hopelessly unattainable goal? Maybe so, but if you spend a little time reading through the Church of England's manifesto for Christians on the Web, unfortunately titled Cybernauts Awake!, you may at least find yourself motivated to sanctify your little bit of the e-world.
The report, a brainchild of the Science, Medicine and Technology Committee of the Board for Social Responsibility of the Church of England, faces head on the ethical and spiritual implications of cyberspace. The authors of Cybernauts Awake! don't pretend to have all the answers, but they do have a good starting premise: "Cyberspace is a strong force for social change, and Christians should be using it to work for social justice and evangelization."
All Christians should go online and do their level best to bring salt and light to the Web rather than leave it to ne'er-do-wells like the pornographers, says the report. The authors know that computers and the Web are transforming the way we live, work, and relate to each other. Therefore, they ask, " ... how do computers affect us, as individuals, and in our relationships with others, and in our relationship with God?"
The short answer, of course, is "in almost every way imaginable." And that's the problem. Computers, and especially the Internet, can open up global business opportunities and facilitate the spread of the gospel, but they also threaten our privacy and flood our e-mail inboxes with reams of pornography and help spread messages of hate. "In short," says the report, "one of the most daunting things about computers is ...1
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