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The Dangers of New Media (fin)

July 3rd, 2010 | 2 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

The world around us is hardly static, as the high schoolers I talked with seemed to think.  New technologies continue to open new possibilities, extending individuals’ and communities’ means of transmitting information around the globe.  The world is, in this regard, a very different world than during Jesus’ time.

The modern world contains many new tools to preach the gospel, but with those new tools comes new and hidden dangers, not all of which we currently understand.

In this brief exploration I have attempted to articulate three such dangers:  (1) that our souls will become shallow due to the imbalance between consumption of information and our reflection upon that information; (2) that the manifestly intentional nature of online communication will reinforce the notion that we can and should control our own self-presentations to the world; and (3) that seeing the world through new media can distort our relationship to reality by causing us to subordinate reality to our own ends and purposes (artistic creation), rather than seeing reality as an end in itself.

These dangers are not the final word on new media.  Rather, that final word will ultimately be given by Jesus Christ, in whom dangers are overcome and threats abolished.  Christians leery of engagement with these new tools should remember the comforting words of the answer to the first question of the Heidleberg Catechism—namely, that “our only comfort in life in death” is “that [we] with body and soul, both in life and death, [are] not [our] own.”

It is given to us to do the best with what we have:  deliberating, deciding, and reflecting on our course of action, all the while taking a posture of prayerful trust that even if we err, the hand of God will yet prevail, both in our own lives, where all is “subservient to [our] salvation,” and in the world around us.

Taken from The New Media Frontier edited by John Mark Reynolds and Roger Overton, ©2008.  Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, .  Download for personal use only.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.