Finding God Online

How the gospel is being proclaimed on the web

Of course there are many thousands of gospel presentations on the web. Karen reviewed some that came up early when searching for “How to become a Christian” as well as a popular Australian site, www.christianity.net.au.

  1. Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?
    http://www.crusade.org/fourlaws/
  2. The Official Web Site of Arthur Blessitt: The Man Who Carried The Cross Around The World in Every Nation
    http://www.blessitt.com/
  3. The Good News of Jesus Christ
    http://www.thegoodnews.org/
  4. Power To Change
    http://www.powertochange.com/
  5. Christianity.net.au
    http://www.christianity.net.au/

www.crusade.org/fourlaws/

Title: Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?

Author(s): Campus Crusade for Christ, International

Blurb: “Just as there are physical laws that govern the physical universe, so are there spiritual laws which govern your relationship with God.”

Brief description of gospel presentation: Tells the gospel by going through the four spiritual “laws” (God loves you and has a plan for you/Man is separated from God because of sin and therefore cannot know God's love and plan/Jesus is God's provision for man's sin and through him we can know of God's love and plan/We must receive Jesus in order to know and receive God's love and plan for our lives).

Style of presentation: All information is presented on one page with a few graphics and clear text. Each spiritual law is backed up with verses from the Bible. Diagrams are sometimes used to explain concepts. Other language versions are also available.

Selling point (why do you need the gospel): We need the gospel because we are sinful and separated from God and without Jesus we will never be able to know God's love and plan for our lives.

What does it say to do to become a Christian? Repent (ie. turn to Christ) and put your faith in Jesus. There is a prayer that you can pray to do this.

What kind of stuff does it have to help me if I choose to become a Christian? You can fill in a feedback form requesting further information that will help you grow as a Christian, and find a Bible study group and a Bible-believing church to join. There is also a second separate page of information, resources and tips to help you in your Christian GROWTH (Go to God in prayer daily/Read God's word daily/Obey God moment by moment/Witness for Christ in your life and words/Trust God for every detail of your life/Holy Spirit - allow him to control and empower your daily life and witness).

Theological comments: God is not presented as the Creator but just the Saviour. God is not said to be angry at human sin; sin is bad because it stops us from knowing God's love and plan for our lives. Therefore, the site's prayer does not contain any mention of an apology to God for doing wrong. The resurrection of Jesus and its importance is not spoken about, neither is the consequence of what happens if you don't trust in Jesus. However, new believers are given solid instruction in how they are to continue in the Lord and the site does not shy away from commanding them to evangelise.

www.blessitt.com

Title: The Official Web Site of Arthur Blessitt: The Man Who Carried The Cross Around The World in Every Nation

Author(s): Arthur and Denise Blessitt

Blurb: The World's Longest Walk as listed in the Guinness Book of Records: Now 292 Nations, 34,800 Miles (56,005 K-Mart) 32 Years and still WALKING! Started Christmas 1969!

Brief description of gospel presentation: You have to dig to find it but it's under “The Message of the Cross”. Blessitt starts out by talking about the cross as a symbol of Jesus' sacrifice for our sins and then delves into the events leading up to the crucifixion and what happened after the resurrection. He then talks a bit about what the Bible says about what the cross accomplished before talking about the glory of eternity that awaits the believer and asking the reader, “Now, what will you do with Jesus?”

Style of presentation: All on one page with a LOT of bright red text on white background divided up into great big chunks (the bright red makes it very hard to read). Very few graphics used. Blessitt quotes the Bible a lot without referencing the passages he uses and he jumps around a lot. For someone unfamiliar with the Bible, it could be very confusing.

Selling point (why do you need the gospel): Jesus died on the cross for you and me and that's why we need the gospel.

What does it say to do to become a Christian? “Believe in Him! Follow Him! Repent of your sins! Love Him! Know Him!” says Blessitt. He quotes the passage in Romans 10:13 which says that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” and invites his readers to call on God by praying a prayer he has written. He does stress that, after praying the prayer, you should do four things: 1. Get a Bible and read it carefully; 2. Find a church and be baptised; 3. Seek to grow and know God better; 4. Tell others about Jesus.

What kind of stuff does it have to help me if I choose to become a Christian? Blessitt has a collection of audio prayers that you can pray with him as well as sermons, on-line books he has written, links to other useful sites and information about his “Crosswalk” (walking all over the world with his cross).

Theological comments: It's a bit worrying that the explanation about Christianity is buried under so much other stuff (Historic Launch Fall 2002, of the First Cross in Orbit Around the Earth! Send a Free Jesus Sticker to a Friend! How to Make a Cross!) In the above gospel presentation Blessitt says nothing about sin as being universal to mankind; he mentions it in another part of the site so he probably doesn't see it as being essential to the gospel message. His very graphic description of the way Jesus died on the cross overshadows the good news of Jesus' resurrection, and nothing is said about the consequences if you don't call on the name of the Lord. But it's good to see him tying his presentation back to the parts of the Bible that talked about him and his prayer does contain an apology to God for sinning.

www.thegoodnews.org

Title: The Good News of Jesus Christ

Author(s): Sponsored by the Evangelization Group of the North American Mission Board, South Baptist Convention

Blurb: “A Christian is a person who accepts (obeys) Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments) presents complete and reliable information on the life, teachings, death, resurrection, and second coming of Jesus Christ. On this site, are several different examples explaining these Biblical truths.”

Brief description of gospel presentation: There are several but the one I will focus on is “Here's Hope” which is a flash presentation. It starts by shining the spotlight on different words like “Depression”, “Anxiety”, “Rejection”, “Failure” and “Shame” and asking the question, “Is there any Hope”? The scenery changes so that we are travelling along the road, stopping occasionally at a couple of road signs which reiterate and explore the question. The final road sign tells us that yes, there is hope, and it can be found in Jesus. The scenery changes again so that you're now in a petrol station where you're told only God has the power to change. Again, the scenery changes and you can see a bridge over the river and God's kingdom on the other side (which looks a lot like an American small town). A great cloud called sin drifts over the river and causes the bridge to collapse. It's quite a clever visual metaphor for the consequences of sin. The road signs reappear again to tell us why change is necessary (because of sin) and how sin bars our way to God. The consequences of sin are clearly spelled out. Jesus' cross then appears to bridge the gap into the kingdom of God so that our car can drive over into God's city. It pulls out before four road signs which give us instructions on how to respond. The presentation then assures of God's faithfulness and outlines what we must do to live as Christians.

Style of presentation: The flash animation and graphics are very effective—the image of the road and its accompanying signs symbolising the road of one's life. Bible verses and text are used well.

Selling point (why do you need the gospel): You need the gospel because you have been separated from the kingdom of God because of your sin; it is Jesus' death on our behalf which bridges the gap and allows us to enter God's kingdom.

What does it say to do to become a Christian? Repent (turn to Christ), Believe (trust in what he has done), Confess (that Jesus is Lord), Call (on the Lord) and Pray (an example prayer appears that you can pray).

What kind of stuff does it have to help me if I choose to become a Christian? The presentation advises you to 1. Live for God, 2. Publicly confess your faith and be baptised, 3. Share with others what Jesus has done for you, 4. Get to know God better through prayer, Bible study and fellowship with other Christians as a member of a local church. There is an electronic response form you can fill out to have materials sent to you depending on what stage you're at (still thinking/prayed the prayer/already a Christian/recommitted Christian) and you can also indicate whether you want to meet other Christians in your area, join a local church or explore Christianity further. There are also links to more resources, personal testimonies by other Christians, sites geared to particular age groups (eg. students) and more gospel presentations.

Theological comments: God's role as Creator is not mentioned. God's chief act is seen to bring hope in the form of Jesus Christ who died for us. The consequences of choosing not to trust in Jesus are touched upon when the presentation speaks about the consequences of sin: we will suffer the “penalty of death, both physical and eternal”. The emphasis on evangelism in the life of the believer is helpful though the insistence on being baptised is not.

www.powertochange.com

Title: Power to Change: religion and spirituality, how to become a Christian

Author(s): Campus Crusade for Christ, International.

Blurb: “Explore: Real People. Questions of Life. The Perfect Person. Make a Change.”

Brief description of gospel presentation: Goes through four principles (God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life/All of us are sinful and separated from God and therefore cannot know his love and plan for our lives/Jesus is God's solution to sin and through him we can know God's love and his plan for our lives/We must accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord and then we can know God's love and plan for our lives) and then talks about how to know Jesus personally.

Style of presentation: Short sections with the main point in larger letters and some text explaining each point, supported by Bible verses. The reader has to click on a link to bring up the next page. Sometimes diagrams are used to explain certain concepts. The site is very easy to navigate and is beautifully designed.

Selling point (why do you need the gospel): Because your sin separates you from God so that you cannot know his love and wonderful plan for your life. You can only overcome this by putting your faith in Jesus and submitting to him as your Saviour and Lord.

What does it say to do to become a Christian? You must choose to submit your life to God by first saying sorry and talking to him. An example of a prayer is provided. But the site also says that, if you choose to become a Christian, this is the beginning of a lifelong journey of change and growth as you learn to know God better "through Bible reading, prayer and interaction with other Christians."

What kind of stuff does it have to help me if I choose to become a Christian? The site contains studies into who Jesus is, testimonies from people from around the globe, answers to questions about life, a local church finder, links to other resources and the chance to publish your own personal "story" online.

Theological comments: The presentation mentions that you are a creation of God but does not go on to talk about God's role as Creator of the universe in which you live. The reason for Jesus' coming is narrowly stated as “Jesus came so that each of us could know and understand God in a personal way. Jesus alone can bring meaning and purpose to life.” The consequences for not submitting to Jesus are not stated and neither is God's anger against human sin, however an apology to God for sin does appear in the example prayer.

www.christianity.net.au

Title: http://www.christianity.net.au

Author(s): Anglican Media (with assistance from organisations such as Moore Theological College, Anglican Youthworks, Matthias Media and more).

Blurb: “For those who are interested in finding out more about God, Jesus, Christianity and the ‘Meaning of Life’”

Brief description of gospel presentation: There are several gospel presentations on the site under “What is a Christian?” These include audio talks by people like Kim Hawtrey, John Dickson and John Chapman, articles and a step-by-step presentation which is the one I want to focus on. This gospel presentation is modelled around the Matthias Media publication by Phillip Jensen, “Two Ways to Live”. It goes through six points: 1. God is the loving ruler of the world who created us and made us rulers over the world; 2. Human beings have rebelled against God in choosing to live life their own way; 3. God will not let human sin remain unpunished; the consequences are death and judgement; 4. Yet in his great love, God sent his son Jesus, who always submitted to his rule, to die in our place for our sin; 5. Jesus rose again, conquering death, and will return again to judge; 6. We now have two ways we can live: Firstly, continuing to reject God and living life our own way, with the results of death and judgement, or, secondly, choosing God's new way—submitting to Jesus as our ruler and relying on his resurrection, with the result that we are forgiven by God and will receive eternal life.

Style of presentation: Two Ways to Live diagrams with stick figures, crowns and earth-spheres adorn neatly laid-out text with explain main points in bold supported by Bible verses. Audio clips also accompany each step of the presentation (useful for the visually impaired).

Selling point (why do you need the gospel): Because God is angry with you because you have rebelled against him; he sent his son Jesus into the world to die for you so you wouldn't have to face the punishment for sin which is death and judgement. The resurrected Jesus conquered death and will return one day to judge so you had better be ready.

What does it say to do to become a Christian? Talk to God about it in prayer (an example prayer appears) admitting how you have sinned against him and how you need him, submit to Jesus as your ruler in all of your life, and keep trusting in Jesus.

What kind of stuff does it have to help me if I choose to become a Christian? The rest of the site is devoted to this. There are articles about how to live as a Christian, talking about prayer, Bible reading, finding fellowship among other Christians and telling others about Jesus. You can even ask for a free copy of the New Testament to be sent out to you. There are articles about “Does Christianity really work?”, interviews with famous and not-so-famous Christian people (in text and audio), answers to frequently asked questions (with a form to submit your own), links to other resources, feedback forms and people to contact to get further help.

Theological comments: The presentation differs from the most of the ones I've seen in that it 1. Talks about God as being Creator of everything, 2. Talks about God's anger against our sin, 3. Talks about the consequences of not turning to Christ (and the site even allows for it, providing links for people who are “Still thinking”), and 4. Talks about the significance of Jesus' resurrection (that he has conquered death and will return again to judge the world). The example prayer does contain an apology to God for sinfulness and uses that as its basis rather than appearing as an afterthought. One thing that would be good to see on the site is some sort of mechanism to link new Christians to local churches.

Karen

E-vangelism is well underway.

Next, we'll think about the internet culture that we are trying to reach: Designer friends, designer god

Comments

What a inspiration you both are!! Young inspired Christians doing such great work. You are using your computer talents for God instead of hanging out for hours blowing things up on some lame game. Good Work!! Now…. if you could talk to my 20 year old son. Elliott Ness- USAF Misawa, Japan. Super smart guy, great unused potential - unfortunatly he uses his computer skills to blow things up, although he works on the F-16 fighter plane electronics (that’s the good part) It would be fun if you dropped him a line at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  He is a tough nut but you appear to be his age. I know he doesn’t know any Christians over there. Since you are so far away he may be open to your ideas. If you feel lead to make my son your mission project I would be very grateful. He was very interested in God and a believer at a young age till about 17. Then a old friend came into his life that is at best a Jewish agnostic. The pull the other direction has been intense. Being so far away from home and not attending Church is taking it’s toll. I feel him drifting away. If God leads you his way please answer the call. Thanks Celia Ness Tacoma, WA

Celia Ness on 28 August, 2003 9:23 PM

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.