Though Are the Wonders of This Brief Life 30 The Testimony of a Rock and Roll Child and Other Christian Writings Two Apologia for a Cyberchurch

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
From Though Are the Wonders of This brief Life Book Three

Submitted: December 10, 2014

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Submitted: December 10, 2014

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Introduction

 

On the 30th of July 2007, after having completed Apologia for a Cyberchurch at the behest of a Christian friend, and earmarked it as the penultimate chapter of my memoir, I published it in its “definitive” form at the FaithWriters website. And then again in refashioned and truly definitive form in 2013-'14.

 

1.

 

Anyone who has read my writings thus far will be more than adequately aware of my condition prior to becoming a Christian in January 1993, so I'm not going to go into any further details about it during this brief defence of the cyberchurch phenomenon. Suffice to say that at least partly as a result of it, my walk with God has not been an easy one. But then, is it not so that while coming to faith in Christ produces the salvation of the soul, it doesn't by any means necessarily also ensure perfect freedom from the consequences of sins committed prior to spiritual rebirth? It is entirely up to God how much or even whether He heals.

I held online discussions in 2007 with a Christian friend from the U.S. as to the possible nature of the psychological conditions alluded to above. I do feel confident in saying, however, that depression is involved. By this I don't mean life-threatening despair so much as the long-term, low-grade depression of which chronic lack of normal energy and joy of life (anhedonia) are common symptoms. That said, a diagnosis of unipolar, or major, depression might be premature, as I'm also subject to spells of elated hyper-creativity, although these do not extend to garrulous sociability. On the contrary, I tend to social avoidance. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was also mentioned. Among the symptoms of PTSD as I understand it are a reduced interest in the everyday pleasurable activities most people take for granted, anxiety, irritability, hypervigilance, insomnia and emotional detachment.

It goes without saying that I'm hardly the one and only Christian ever to have struggled with some kind of Pauline thorn in the flesh, whether mental, physical or spiritual, or a combination of these. If I might paraphrase Rock and Roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis of Faraday, Louisiana, we born again believers have chosen a pretty hard road to hoe. Whatever one's opinion of Jerry Lee, he is 100% correct in his assessment of the Christian walk. In the light of all these facts, can any of us in the Body of Christ honestly refuse to admit that membership of an internet church might be spiritually beneficial to many a believer?

I hope I haven't given the impression so far in this apologia that I never attend church in person nor have any intention of ever doing so again, because nothing could be further from the truth. However, I'm not in close fellowship at the present time, which is to say part of a cell or prayer group. In the past, however, I've attended several, and within a variety of churches.

These include Cornerstone, a Charismatic church affiliated to the Word of Faith movement and based in suburban Surrey, which was the very first church I visited on a regular basis, doing so for about two years from 1993. They also include the Riverside Vineyard Christian Fellowship to which I defected from Cornerstone, remaining there for over a year before returning to my first church.

At some point in '97 I started going to morning services at Kingston Baptist Church in south west London. This was in consequence of a short-lived desire on my part to distance myself from the Pentecostal-Charismatic fold. In '99, however, after having spent some months cycling each Sunday to the 2.30pm service at Kensington Temple, an Elim Pentecostal church in Notting Hill, a Kingston-based KT cell group under the leadership of Pastor Phil of New York City beckoned and I answered the call. Late in the summer of that year, this mutated into the satellite church Liberty Christian Centre with which I forged very close ties, serving in the worship group from its inception in early 2000 until well into the following year. The church folded in '01, at which point I returned to Cornerstone and still another cell group, remaining there until the end of '02.

I left in consequence of a renewed desire to seek out churches existent beyond the Pentecostal/Charismatic family of churches. Among these were Bethel Baptist Church in Wimbledon, SW19. Bethel is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church based on the U.S. model, and therefore KJV only, which is to say utilizing the King James Version of the Bible alone. It operates under the gracious leadership of the American pastor, writer and passionate defender of the Authorised Version (A.V. 1611) of the Bible, Dr Jack Moorman. I was happy at Bethel until one Sunday following the evening service, my train home was severely delayed and I found myself stranded at Wimbledon station for over an hour in consequence. Despite this, I fully intended to return the following Sunday to see Jack's friend Bro. David Cloud preach at the church, but for some reason never did, and I've stayed away ever since. In addition to Bethel, other traditionally Evangelical churches I attended more than once throughout 2003 were Hook Evangelical Church, Surbiton, and Christ Church, Teddington, a Free Church of England fellowship whose rector is a passionately Biblical man with the magnetizing voice of a Shakespearean actor.

By the end of 2003, I'd begun to make a tentative return to the Pentecostal-Charismatic nation, and since then, I've attended churches both within and beyond its boundaries, among them St Stephens, East Twickenham, a massive Evangelical Anglican church, which I found to be incredibly compassionate; and yet, despite a brief period in a home group, I've not been back to the church itself since last summer. Increasingly this year I've been frequenting Duke Street Church, a large Baptist church affiliated to the Evangelical Alliance in nearby Richmond, whose minister is a much respected preacher of the Word of God, his sermons appearing weekly on Premier, London's Christian radio station.

Typing the words internet church in a browser will result in the search engine in use yielding dozens of virtual churches of every conceivable kind. This fact speaks to me of the very strong likelihood that God is using the internet as never before to reach out to those brothers and sisters in the Lord who for one reason or another struggle to attend church on a regular basis, or for that matter those who attend regularly, and yet might find a degree of spiritual encouragement in a virtual church that an actual one is failing to provide them with.

There may be those Christians who will disagree with all or much I have written so far, and yet for the life of me I cannot understand why. After all, is the internet not the single most powerful and momentous means of communication in history? Of course it is, and therefore I believe that as Christians, we have a responsibility to make as much use of the world wide web as is humanly possible to communicate the Message of the Gospel, and with a fervour befitting the fact that the time is short. As things stand, I am on the verge of compiling my pieces into an experimental memoir with a strong Christian message. Serving God via the medium of the world wide web gets more exciting and more challenging by the day.

 

2.

 

It was in 1999 that the emergence of the internet church was accurately predicted by the Christian sociologist George Barna of the well-known Barna Group at a time when many of us were still computer-free. For my part, I didn't come online until 2001, and my online life didn't really begin until AOL became my Internet Service Provider towards the end of that year.

Since that time, the net has grown progressively more prominent in the lives of Christians worldwide to the extent that it now quite literally teems with Christian websites, web logs, articles, audio sermons, videos, songs and, of course, cyberchurches of every conceivable hue and kind. Yet, Christians themselves haven't to any degree forsaken traditional church-going for internet worship, which is surely a good thing, as the Bible speaks in Hebrews 10: 25 of the vital importance of “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Therefore, unique circumstances notwithstanding, the cyberchurch phenomenon should arguably never be used to replace actual physical Sunday church attendance…only to enhance it.

Yet, Christ himself says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Are gatherings of Believers that take place on the internet going to be any less blessed by God by dint of being virtual? It strikes me that this would be very much not the case.

Typing the words internet church into a browser will provide a person with a seemingly endless list of virtual churches of every conceivable kind. Does this not point to the strong likelihood that God is using the internet as never before to reach believers who for one reason or another are unable to attend church on a regular basis? I'd say yes. On the other hand, there may be others who do attend regularly and yet who might benefit from the extra spiritual nourishment provided by a web-based fellowship. The internet as a whole is arguably the single most powerful and momentous means of mass communication in history.

Therefore I believe as Christians we have a sacred responsibility to make as much use of the web as possible to communicate the message of the Gospel while there's still time.


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