An awesome aspect of the powerfully redemptive ministry of Jesus Christ was His binding of Satan (Rev. 20:1-3) from his deceiving, or leading astray, the nations during His continuing reign. This redemptive act launched the church's aggressive, yet patient, campaign to disseminate the knowledge of Yahweh (translated "LORD" in English Old Testament versions) throughout the earth via her discipleship ministries. The church's dissemination campaign continues, and although assured of victory, she finds herself in conflict, sometimes fiercely so, with the futile attempts of nations who oppose the knowledge of Christ and His kingdom. This is Information Warfare.
Information warfare in its ultimate sense becomes a battle for worldwide understanding of the knowledge of Yahweh. I am intrigued by how analogous the military definition of information warfare is to that of the church's warfare. In 1997, the Air Force Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence defined information warfare as "any action to deny, exploit, corrupt, or destroy the enemy's information and its functions; protecting ourselves against those actions [from the enemy]; and exploiting our own military information functions."1The church, similarly in her information warfare, works, through the preaching of the Word and the discipling of the nations, to destroy the cultural strongholds of Satan, to protect herself against heresy within and without, and to exploit contemporary technologies to accomplish these functions. Furthermore, the church anchors herself in the hope of Isaiah's prophecy that the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord to the extent that the waters cover the sea (Is. 11:1-9). To better understand how the true knowledge of Yahweh is the prize of ethical information warfare, we must define knowledge and technology. We must then consider some basic strategies for winning this information warfare in which we, as a church, are engaged.
Ontology scientists, working in the information technology field, have defined knowledge as "information in context."2 They make a useful distinction between information and knowledge. Most would agree that it is one thing to know some things about God (abstract and, perhaps, useful information), but it is another and more righteous thing to know God and to give Him obedience due to His Son's Lordship (true knowledge). The late Dr. C. Gregg Singer, my beloved church history professor, taught me that God created us to know and has placed us in a knowable world. The true knowledge of Yahweh, as derived from the ontologists' definition of knowledge, provides the know-what, know-how, and know-why necessary to theological truth.3 True knowledge in a regenerate man captivates his intellect and motivates his behavior so that he becomes a true, culture-changing disciple of Christ. He is no longer impotently intoxicated with theological information, but he seeks opportunity to communicate and disseminate the knowledge of Yahweh through his godliness throughout a culture.4 This is why the church must know and impart this true knowledge to the nations via her manifold ministries and through the auspices of technological innovations. As it stands written: God's people are in bondage for the lack of true knowledge (Is. 5:13) and are destroyed for lack of the same (Hos. 4:6).
The Christian church throughout history has harnessed technologies to disseminate the knowledge of Yahweh. Webster defines technology as a systematic treatment (technologia) of how a society provides its members with those things needed or desired.5 Christ's church desires the knowledge of the Lord to reach her respective audiences (e.g., church assemblies, theologians and educators, sinners, denominational headquarters, governments). Technologies in this context, therefore, must be seen as enablers of this knowledge-impartation and not as focus areas in and of themselves.
Bruce Metzger has documented how the church throughout history has embraced technologies to impart God's knowledge.6 For example, in A.D. 331, Eusebius used the technology of professional scribes and portable and clean parchments to deliver fifty parchment manuscripts of the Scriptures to the Emperor Constantine. Metzger also has noted that the technology of a printing press with moveable type enabled faster, cheaper, and more accurate publications, the first being Jerome's Vulgate published between 1450 and 1456.7 Today, churches are making investments in computer infrastructure and Internet-based technologies and software to produce World Wide Web pages that not only disseminate the knowledge of Yahweh, but also enable her to interact with her web page viewers.
We in the church have a multitude of technically innovative options that we can employ to improve any of the multifaceted ways we disciple the nations and influence their cultures. To start, we should employ these few basic strategies in preparing winning plans to incorporate technology in disseminating the knowledge of Yahweh:
Manage the Knowledge of Yahweh That You Possess
All knowledge is first captured, then analyzed, validated, stored, delivered, transferred, and finally refined.8 One must be diligent to use technologies at one's disposal (e.g., software products, CD media, the Internet) to optimally identify, acquire, maintain, deliver, and reform the knowledge of God which we have. A ministry's web page will only be as alive, relevant, and accurate as the ministry it reflects. How a ministry stewards or fails to steward the knowledge of God it possesses is clearly revealed in its web page. One should be able to evaluate a ministry's web page and clearly assess its propensity to draw its intended audience into an enterprise replete with the knowledge of Yahweh. Does the page achieve its mission, or does evaluation reveal that the page has no mission?
Focus Knowledge and Technology Toward Reaching Your Potential Discipleship Audience
Whom do you want to reach with the knowledge of God that you possess? Consider how to go about reaching them: If you want to reach sinners looking for Yahweh, then you should produce a web page that focuses on that mission. (Add, for instance, a "frequently asked questions" section to help your sinner audience learn.) If you are targeting your church's members, then you could post church events, elders' meeting minutes (password protected, of course), and sermon outlines and texts on your web site. Targeted theologians and educators demand websites with scholarly presentations and links to scholarly resources. (Recall that the Internet was built to enable document interchange among scientific research organizations.) If you want to address Reformed Christian audiences, then you should provide Reformed theology; include email addresses to ministerial contacts; and link viewers to Reformed ministries, seminaries, and chatrooms. In addition, keep a printer handy for printing sermon manuscripts for those unfamiliar with the Internet. Because none of the retirement community members to whom our congregation ministers are on-line, we freely give this particular audience large-print, paper-media, instructional materials, which are originally produced as digital documents.
Always Incrementally Reform How You Impart the Knowledge of God
Few ministries can launch an interactive web site that offers a spectrum of discipleship resources all at once. With a web page for example, a church might at first use its web site for nothing more than a digital billboard presenting its service times, location, and ministerial staff. Value can be added to that same site by offering digital sermon manuscripts, church-meeting minutes, service bulletins, and links to other theological and ecclesiastical web sites. As this particular church's site becomes more sophisticated, it can then become a digital portal (America Online and Yahoo are examples of Internet portals) from which its audience can access every type of information it desires a one-stop web site into the knowledge of Yahweh. In addition, services can be broadcast via the Internet and piped to those audience members with Web-TV. As stated earlier, imparting the knowledge of Yahweh is key; technological strategies are secondary, varied, and supportive to that mission.
Twenty-five years ago, most Christians were concerned about barcode recognition technologies being used by the "beast" of the Revelation to tag and to track those not snatched in the Rapture. Today, we can all praise God that the church is not running from technologies but is, instead, evaluating them for use in discipling the nations. Three million pornography sites on-line today prove that the world uses technology to suppress the knowledge of God. Information warfare is now fierce. Nonetheless, ours is the ministry of filling the earth with the knowledge of Yahweh. Furthermore, God's Word ensures us the victory in this battle: "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yahweh as the waters cover the sea."
1. Peter Grier, "At War With Sweepers, Sniffers, Trapdoors, And Worms," Air Force Magazine, March 1997, 22.
2. Perakath Benjamin, instructor, Fundamentals Of Knowledge Management, Seminar presented at 2000 Enterprise Integration Conference in Albuquerque, NM, Knowledge Based Systems, Inc., Copyright 1998.
4. P. Andrew Sandlin, We Must Create A New Kind Of Christian (Vallecito, CA, 2000), 22.
5. Websters New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, s.v. "technology."
6. Bruce M. Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (New York, 1992), 7.
7. ibid., 95.
8. Benjamin, Fundamentals Of Knowledge Management
- Gerald W. Tritle