Cast Thy Bread ... Upon the World Wide Web!
Rev. Angus Stewart
(an article originally published in the Standard
Bearer [15 May, 2009])
The website of the Covenant Protestant Reformed
Church (CPRC) in N. Ireland is our most cost effective and international
form of witnessing. It bears its testimony day unto day and night unto
night, for the internet never sleeps. Whereas it is too much to claim
that "There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard"
(Ps. 19:3), we do at least have items in over a hundred foreign
languages (especially Italian, Portuguese, German, Russian, Spanish,
Afrikaans, Dutch, French, Filipino and Ukrainian). Many are the mornings
when I turn on my computer to find an encouraging e-mail from halfway
around the world or even a new translation or two in my inbox!
There is much about a website that suits a Word-based
church. Our text pages contain articles expounding the Word and the
audio section contains sermons preaching the Word. Both serve doctrinal
evangelism, bringing the rich, distinctive, antithetical message of the
biblical and Reformed faith. This is why our translators choose to
render our materials into their own languages. What point is there in
translating the Arminian "gospel" that Christ died for everyone and that
God loves everyone and wants to save everyone? This stuff is (sadly)
already out there.
Liberal and modernist churches which (correctly) no
longer feel that they have an important and vital message do not need or
bother to produce a website (or, at least, one with much on it). What do
they have that is worth saying? Just fluff and mush and social events
and (left-wing) political commentary. But we want to shout the Reformed
faith from the rooftops so that the living and powerful Word of God
The website of the CPRC, then the Covenant Protestant
Reformed Fellowship (CPRF), began in late December of 2003 as www.cprf.co.uk.
Our first webmaster, a member of the CPRF, found a good web hosting
company from which we bought web space and domain names. He worked long
hours and even late into the night to put the materials I sent him
on-line. The website grew quickly. Sadly, our webmaster developed some
strange views and left our fellowship, but we are indebted to him for
all his hard work.
Our second webmaster, Martyn McGeown, served for
almost a year, before beginning training for the ministry at the
Protestant Reformed Seminary in Michigan. Along with other website work,
Martyn transferred a good number of old sermon series from audio
cassettes to electronic format. My wife, Mary, is our third and current
webmaster. She has changed the appearance of the website and has
overseen its enlargement, especially the languages page.
The idea of our languages page (www.cprf.co.uk/languages.htm)
came to me through a Brazilian called Felipe Sabino. Felipe e-mailed me
to ask permission to translate some of our materials into Portuguese so
I asked him to send me a copy of his translations (when he was finished)
to put on our website. On Felipe’s website there were already Portuguese
translations of writings by various Protestant Reformed ministers, so I
requested them too. The PRC website contained some translations of PR
material in Dutch, Spanish, German, Russian, Slovakian, etc., and I
found a few other PR items in foreign languages on other websites. This
was a start.
Then I spent some time searching the internet for our
ecumenical creeds (Apostles',
Nicene, Chalcedonian and Athanasian) and our Three
Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism
Canons of Dordt) in other languages. Later, I located some of our
liturgical forms in different tongues or had helpers translate some of
them. The Declaration of Principles (adopted by the PR Synod of 1951) is
a key document; we now have it in Italian, Russian and German.
We began to offer free books for translations, and
friends and new contacts took us up on it. By these translations into various languages, our Protestant
Reformed Churches, ministers and doctrines have become a little better
known throughout the world. The PR mission work in the Philippines
started through the PRC website in English. Maybe the Lord will use the
website materials in various tongues to open up other doors in the
What is on the CPRC website indicates what web
surfers from all around the globe can do with it. If they know
English, they can, for example, listen to audio sermons, speeches
and interviews; watch on-line debates; read articles and quotes; order
free pamphlets; buy books, tapes, CDs and DVDs; learn about special
lectures and our Reformed Witness Hour broadcast; etc. They can even
obtain directions to Ballymena Protestant Hall where we meet each Lord's
Day, as did a Lithuanian couple who attended last Sunday morning. For
those who do not know English, their options are obviously much more
limited. But our 1,300 or so pieces in 110 other tongues are at least a
Our website has been of use to us in many ways. We
have made friends from all around the world and have invitations to stay
with saints from every continent, though I doubt if we will ever be able
to take them up on it! People have attended PR churches and mission
works in N. America and some are planning to come to the Calvin
Conference in Grand Rapids (3-5 September, 2011).
Through our website, I gained an opportunity to
debate a Church of Ireland minister about Mel Gibson’s Romish movie,
"The Passion of The Christ," on the BBC’s Hearts and Minds TV programme.
People have subscribed to our monthly Covenant Reformed News
and/or our weekly church bulletin. Many kilograms or pounds weight of
Reformed Free Publishing Association books and PRC pamphlets have been
posted out through on-line orders, and inside each book or pamphlet goes
a little CPRC sticker giving our website number, for you never know
where that literature might end up.
The website is, of course, of use to those CPRC
members who use computers, both for them personally (e.g., if they miss
a service through sickness, they can listen to the sermon later on the
web) and for witnessing to others. Our website has had a hand in people
joining our church. Especially it enabled one lady (in the privacy of
her own home) to find out more about us before committing herself to
attending our services regularly. It is also an encouragement and a tool
to the saints in Limerick in the Republic of Ireland, with whom we are
Our website, of course, involves a lot of work:
adding new articles, sermons, bulletins and translations; eliminating
typos and developing existing articles; advertising our upcoming sermon
titles and special meetings; standardizing and improving the layout; and
(soon) providing updates and pictures of our new
The website also makes more work, such as, answering
e-mails containing questions and objections. Many of my responses refer
correspondents to the relevant articles or audios on the website. To
this end, we have created what we call "Topical Resources" pages, so that the
various sermons, articles, pamphlets, books, etc., on a particular
subject (e.g., Calvinism, cessationism, eschatology, marriage and
prayer) are gathered together in one place for easy reference. We plan
to add more "Topical Resources" pages in the future.
With some time and effort, we could produce some
short Christian talks of up to 10 minutes each that could go on YouTube
for free. Once our church building is up—next year (DV)—we hope (like
several PR churches) to be able to broadcast our services live on the
internet. There are people all around the world who are especially
interested in biblical audio-visual materials on the web.
Along with the various resources of the PRC (books,
pamphlets, etc.), the support and encouragement of the saints in the
CPRC and the labour of earlier webmasters, my wife, Mary, is of special
help with the church website. She has the necessary technical skills and
we can work together on two computers in the one house (since much of my
day is spent at home).
A developed CPRC website is particularly important to
us because we wish to reach out to people in the British Isles and
Europe and, God willing, establish a Reformed denomination.
With schools, universities and industries using
computers more and more; with Bill Gates and others pushing to get more
computers into China (population 1.2 billion); and with various
high-ranking figures even claiming that every child has a "right" to
access to a computer, there are many indications that computers (and
thus the world wide web or perhaps some modification of it) will become
an even more important means of communication in the days ahead.
The medium itself, like paper for books or airwaves
for radio, is neutral. It is the content that is key. Pornographers
employ the World Wide Web to promote their filth and gambling syndicates
use it to make money through people’s covetousness. Evolutionists,
humanists, Muslims, communists and Romanists, etc., are all spreading
their propaganda against the Lord Jesus Christ using the internet. We,
on the other hand, have the opportunity to spread the glorious Word of
life, especially as it has been developed in the Reformed tradition and
in the PR churches.
Thus we cast our bread … upon the World Wide Web,
with the confidence that we shall find it after many days (cf. Ecc.
11:1). We do not know which means of witness "shall prosper, either this
or that" (v. 6), but we know that it is God who "giveth the increase" (I