The Internet and the Church

Internet Christianity is neither necessary nor sufficient for faith and salvation in Christ — and it might even get in the way. You’re here reading this, looking for something interesting or new about Jesus Christ and his Church. But you could spend all your days online or in any library reading everything ever written about Christ and his Church yet know neither. The Internet is a vast library of information, but how do you sort through it? If you’re looking for reliable guidance toward Jesus Christ and his Church, where do you turn? If you’re lost in the library, you need a librarian. But not everyone you see in the library actually works there, and not every book has what you need. That’s why this website will always point you beyond the Internet to real life in a real church community under the guidance and care of a real pastor. But you’re here now, so here are some dangers to avoid:

False Teachers and Self-Appointed Authorities

They put on a “good face,” making themselves seem credible with scholarly background, passionate urgency, an air of sophistication, or other elements of “curb appeal” that please us and draw us to give them our attention. Not every book is as qualified as its cover.

Distorting Christian Tradition

When someone says, “the Fathers say,” but doesn’t cite which Church Father says what, or omits the context, look out! The Church Fathers lived in the real world, not an abstract universe of free-floating information like the Internet. Their words were not “posts” or proof-texts but practical and prayerful answers to challenges they faced.

Internet Famous Doesn’t Mean Authoritative

There are people with big followings on the Internet who are actually brand-new to Orthodox Christianity and have no blessing and no qualification to teach others something that they have only just begun to learn or to practice. They might know a lot of information about Christianity, yet teach a distorted faith because they lack experience in practicing it. Talent and good intentions don’t make one a true teacher. Teaching Christianity is about caring for souls, something you can’t do without the formation of hard experience.

Real Pastoring Doesn’t Happen Online

The normal pastoral relationship the Christian experiences is in-person, in his local church, with a pastor who knows him and his family personally. A person you don’t know on the Internet cannot serve as a substitute in that relationship, no matter how credible he might seem. And he might even be credible, but if he’s not your local pastor — appointed by the bishop — then he is not responsible for you, and you are not responsible to him. The normal pastoral relationship within the parish community provides a safeguard against being seriously misled, a guarantee that there is accountability and transparency.


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