Josh McDowell: Internet is the greatest threat to Christians

Josh McDowell Internet
Written by Paul Steinbrueck

Josh McDowell InternetJosh McDowell is the author of two of the best selling and best reasoned apologetics books of all time, More than a Carpenter and Evidence that Demands Verdict. So, while it’s not surprising to see him lamenting the decline in morals and the belief in absolute truth, it’s quite shocking to see where he decided to place the blame.

As reported by The Christian Post:

“What has changed everything?” asked the apologist from Campus Crusade for Christ International as he spoke on “Unshakable Truth, Relevant Faith” at the Billy Graham Center in Asheville, N.C.. His answer was, the Internet.

“The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have… whether you like it or not,”

First of all, I don’t believe the Internet has given anyone equal access to my kids because they spend way more time with me, my wife, church, and others who live out their Christian faith than they spend online.

Second, McDowell seems to be implying that in order to successfully pass on your faith to your kids you have to indoctrinate them with Christianity and never let them know anything about other worldviews. I have a major problem with that. I want my kids to know about atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and every other –ism. I want them to compare the truth of the Bible with the lies other worldviews perpetuate.  The way to pass on our faith to our kids is not to put our hands over their eyes and ears every time they encounter a non-Christian worldview

I do think we absolutely need to protect our children from pornography and sites promoting hate and violence.

And I do think there is a real risk that if parents do not teach their kids the fundamentals of the Christian faith, if they don’t live out their faith, and if they don’t explain the fallacies of other worldviews that children free to roam the Internet on their own, that they will drift to the dominant, post-modern, relativistic worldview.

But let’s not blame or fear the Internet. Let’s prepare our children for the inevitable exposure they will have to other worldviews both offline and online.

What do you think? Is the Internet the “greatest threat to Christians?”

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.


  • Good thing He wasn't around when we discovered fire, maybe that would have been the reason too!

  • The internet is simply a tool, just like a hammer or a knife. A hammer can be used to build a home, a church, or a business. I knife can be used to prepare food for nourishment to our bodies. Both of these can also be used to assault another human being. Does that mean that a hammer or a knife is a bad thing?

    The internet can be used for just as much (if not more) good, than it is bad. The key is to be (and teach your children to be) firmly grounded in Biblical truths so you are not swayed by other faiths and harmful influences (via the internet or otherwise).

    • I agree with your point, but i think we need a slightly more nuanced view. We use the internet for both good and evil, but the fact that it exists does change us. The fact that we have the internet changes the way we interact and do work and buy things.

      John Dyer's book From the Garden is a good response technology in general (a very broad definition of technology).

  • As a middle school teacher and youth worker, I see where he's coming from. Especially once kids get their cell phones and facebook pages, popular culture has access to them 24/7. Even "good" little girls "like" Katy Perry and "follow" Rihanna. Ads and updates glorifying skin, money, and plastic flash before their eyes constantly, and alerts ring through on their phones from their "friends" with videos and pictures and updates that are constantly pulling them toward a materialistic, ungodly way of life. It's easy, it's streaming, and it's right there in their back pocket at all times. It doesn't have to be heated debates between atheists and believers, because many Christian teenagers don't care to get all that involved in reading that stuff. It's more about the little stuff that pops up in their news feeds.

    Is the internet "the biggest threat" to Christians? No. Satan is, as he always has been. He's just using the latest technology to distract us, and I think he's doing a pretty good job of it, as usual.

    • Lainie, I agree completely that the biggest concerns are materialism and hedonism that is so prevalent in our culture. And not that anyone really chooses to "convert" to those -isms but it's easy to get caught up in what everyone is is thinking and doing.

      There are things we as parents can and should do to protect our children from being exposed through the internet to the worst of this – filtering software, keeping computers in public areas, limiting use, etc. But the fact that popular culture comes at our children through means other than the Internet is part of the reason it seems odd to me to blame the Internet.

      • Yes, I see your point. I just think that the internet probably intensified this problem, much as TV did in the 60s, and radio did in the… what, 20s?

        The invention itself is not really the problem, but it sure allows big problems to become even bigger very easily. The internet has become such a lifeline to many of us that it has near-constant access to us. The TV is not typically going to turn on in the night to alert you to the latest happenings, but your daughter may have her Facebook alerts turned on her phone 24/7 and be receiving the same sort of info the moment it's posted. Because of this, I think McDowell is probably just seeing the danger in it.

    • The biggest threat to Christianity is within the church itself. Many tradional churches are preaching "prosperity" christianity, rather than Jesus christianity. They have become "businesses" and lean that direction.

  • I agree with your points, but also believe the true intent of Josh's take is very relevant. My question is – Why do we need to post an unflattering picture of a fellow brother and attack his point of view? Could we rather just raise the points you have, but do it with dignity and respect for him?
    Again, I agree. Everyone needs to be prepared to face the world we live in, internet included, rather than fear it. I just think this approach to the topic is very poor..

  • I remember that as a boy growing up in the early ’80’s, pornography had to be obtained in magazine form. Some people could get it on their television but no one in the circles I had access to had that capability. I believe it is accurate to say that we had to seek out and buy filth thus making it difficult to get. Today, pornography is everywhere. Network TV is soft porn. I believe Josh McDowell is very accurate in saying that the internet is a great threat to Christianity. Thousands, even tens of thousands of innocent children are victimized each and every year by perverts who broadcast child pornography world wide. For this one reason, the internet is a greater curse than a benefit for society as a whole. The internet steals innocense away from the young, entices the weak, and broadcasts filth in greater quantities than have been impossible in earlier times. It is not worth the cost of debauchery that it hoists upon all people with access to it. It is impossible to be hooked into the internet without smut peddlers bombarding email addresses with all sorts of gross iniquity.

  • I could as easily argue — given the state of political debate — that the greatest threat to Christianity is "reality" TV and how it has reshaped our behavior toward each other. What truly endangers our faith is that we live bunker style, in fear and accusation of the darkness, so anything stronger than the walls we ourselves have built inundates us. We're intended to live as God's invading army, led by God and marching in God's power. But until our love and good deeds are greater than the forces of darkness, no one will see a light that cannot be hidden. They'll just hear a shrill, small voice that cries out in the wilderness.

    • Amen and Amen. Many years have passed since this was written . Perhaps people can see the truth of this NOW! If not wait a few weeks.

  • The greatest threat to Christianity is… Well… Christians. For several years now, I have been asking folks who have left Christianity to explain to me why they no longer believe. I would venture to say 80%-90% say other Christians. You see, the face of Christianity is not a pretty one. From the Papal Inquisition to the Christian Crusades to the Spanish Inquisition to the Salem Witch Trials to the oppression of Blacks, Women and now the GLBT Community, Christianity, historically and currently, has a face of hate and violence. The words of love and compassion that Jesus taught have been undermined by the damnation and hatred of anyone who doesn't comply with Evangelical ideology. I agree that the internet is a wealth of information and that many young people are finding out the truth about the atrocities wrought by Christianity. Until Christians start acting more like their Saviour, Christianity will continue to die a slow painful death. If you call yourself a Christian, I suggest you try to show the love of Jesus and follow his words, rather than trying to force a renaissance of the Old Testament God of fire and brimstone. Like the old saying goes, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

    • Christians in name but NOT true followers of THEE way. We are to know HIS name- that is HIS nature and character. Scripture does talk of another Jesus. May the chaos that comes be orderly so as to grow people up. One eye open is not truly awake.

  • I hear Josh's point. Yet, one has to be bible sound, solid & grounded in the word. And definitely in a genuine personal relationship with Christ for themselves. Prayed up & having on the whole armor of God. The net is like TV today, good things, bad things. Yet, not allowing (free choice) the bad to infiltrate or penetrate wicked darts into your mind & spirit man. (Called spiritual warfare & rebuking thoughts & things not of God.)
    I did not shield my now grown kids, nor do I my grandkids from the tools of the world per say. So far they are following the principles of the Lord (thou not always a cakewalk) with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Now respectful, powerful, professional in the careers & born-again women of God. They do slip at times but repent & understand how to get back on the right track quickly –while they understand they live in the world (& use the net-tools of the world) but yet not of the world!

    • "Prayed up & having on the whole armor of God."

      Linda, thanks for your comment. Yes, we must be fully prepared and dialed into the Holy Spirit to use and redeem the Internet for His purposes each day.

  • i rarely write on blogs, but i would like to add my two cents to the argument. i can see Josh's point somewhat, since i did not hear the comment in its entirety. Paul, i think i get yours as well, but i can't say i agree with your points. recently, i have been working in a bank, and i spend a lot of time around US currency. i am not a teller or examiner of currency, but i am trained to pick up on fraudulent bills and checks. i spend so much time around the "real" stuff, i can see the fake stuff almost instantly. i would argue that John Stott, who recently passed, is correct from his last book, The Radical Disciple, that our Christian faith is spreading far and wide but not very deep. I can't monitor and manage all of my kids intake, but i have to deluge them in the Scripture, so they can establish a strong Christology, and understanding how to read the Scripture as lens. I don't have to worry about exposing them to diverse things because they get it all of the time. I worry about them reading the Scripture and engaging in discussion to understand their faith and the context they are living in.

    Certainly, i cannot undermine the influence of the enemy, Satan, but i will not let humanity have a pass either. our debauchery and welcoming of so many things that cause us to diminish God or see Him as an equal is just as bothersome. I wonder if that is why "piety" individual and collective holiness (difference) is gone, and the lives Christians are living are the same who identify with some one else.

    It is true that our faith or those who carry the Christian label have imposed some diabolical things against mankind, but simultaneously God has preserved His Name, and continues to let His Authentic followers shine or in their absence He has used those who don't know HIm to demonstrate His will, when His followers were distracted or disobedient. God remains Sovereign!

    from a follower who happens to be African-American

  • I think that the internet gives us the greatest vehicle to fulfill the Great Commission – Go into all the world and preach the Gospel. What easier way to reach hungry souls half-way around the world. I know that I have people from all over the world logging onto my site each day. I need to have something to feed them when they do. I don't have the capacity to physically go to China – but I know that my site is available to the people there.

    • Gord, that's true. The Internet is a conduit for evil and we must do our best to filter that out, but it has brought the gospel to more people than perhaps anyone in history. Global Media Outreach is seeing somewhere around 100,000 indicated decisions for Christ every day online.

  • "There was no thing made that was not made by him." God made all things good." There is no tool, instrument, device, machine or otherwise – which is inherently evil – in and of itself. It takes the mind of man, and the influence of Satan – to take the things that God made "good," and use them for evil.

    "The things which men call good: God calls evil, and the things which men call evil – God calls good." Who is confused? It is certainly not God! The biggest threat to Christianity is still the same thing it has always been. The influence of darkness (which is everywhere) that appears to be light. Does the Word not say that in the last days that Satan shall appear as an angel of light?

    All preaching – in Church or otherwise first need to understand that NO MAN can take the Word of God and "rightly divide His Word of truth," without the holy spirit leading and guiding every single definition found in the Holy Bible.

    "my word is spirit, and it is the spirit of life. (Jesus) Only the holy Ghost (the spirit of Christ) can teach men how to live and use the Word to defeat the powers of darkness. "For this cause was I sent, that I may undo the works of Satan."

    Only by and through HIM can we live in the "righteousness of Christ." No man has "righteousness" in and of himself – but through the Holy Ghost – the gift of His righteousness is imputed into those whom doeth the will of the Father.

    "Whomsoever doeth the will of My Father, is equal to the Holy angels." (Jesus)

    "The Holy Spirit shall lead men into all truth."
    Who is looking for the real truth? (which only the Holy Spirit can teach) It is only the truth (his truth) which can set you free from the powers of darkness and Satan.

    This gift is free – it is His truth, and those whosoever He giveth it to – He gives it because they were obeying the first and greatest commandment:
    "Love the LORD with all of you mind, body, and strength, and love thy neighbor, as thyself." Then " seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness."

    This cannot be done – without first looking to the LORD for every answer. When you do this – HE gives them, because you have proved to the LORD that your heart is in the right place, (In Him)

    "For when you stand with Him – whom can stand against thee."? "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit."
    His spirit is available to all whom come to the Father – through Jesus, and through Jesus alone.

    Will you come to Him, and cast your cares upon Him? He is waiting, and watching.

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