Book Review: A Pilgrim in Media Land

“How can we create more openness in our families when it comes to discussing our Internet activities and our use of media time? What agreements can we make with each other to put this into practice?” These are just two of the many discussion questions we read in the book, A Pilgrim in Media Land. This book, authored by Mr. Steef de Bruijn and Mrs. Henrieke Hoogendijk-van Dam, is originally written in the Dutch language as an initiative of the Driestar Christian University and the Erdee Media Group. The Modern Media Committee from the Lethbridge NRC has, with the permission of the authors, translated and published this book to be used in our denomination. We are thankful for this effort.

Much has been spoken and written already about modern media. In our Reformed circles we have always been very reluctant and cautious to use modern media like the Internet. We realize, however, that we cannot stop this development anymore, not even in our circles. Almost all of our families have an Internet connection to be used as a resource in schools and business life. Consequently, therein lies the danger that it gets used too much and in the wrong way. Therefore, this book is intended to be a guide for the proper use of modern media and to warn against the misuse of it. The title is well chosen as it clearly implies that we are in media land. There are many available devices which have good uses; nevertheless, there undoubtedly are also many traps and dangers.

Therefore, the authors take us by the hand in our journey through modern media land. They do that in a very appealing way. In eight chapters they provide a lot of information about many topics related to modern media. Repeatedly, they do this using attitude keywords such as temperance, consistency, reflection, and faithfulness. In a tender but honest way, they do not shy away from the practical dangers of appealing and alluring sins which have such devastating consequences. Therefore, each chapter starts with a real-life scenarios which can easily be recognized by parents and educators in raising our children and youth.

At the end of each chapter are questions for discussions. The vocabulary used by the authors should not keep us from reading this book because it is “to the point” and easy to follow. Most importantly, time and again we read the question, “What does the Bible say?” Based on specific Bible texts, the authors want to guide us in an honest and biblical way through media land and point us to a proper lifestyle. They realize that not everything is said when only warnings are given. “A Christian is characterized by watchfulness and resilience. Therefore, it is not enough only to point young people to the dangers of the web. It is important that we also demonstrate how to use modern media in a positive way. In this way, we can demonstrate to teenagers how we live as a Christian in a digital world.”

We were pleased to read that the authors realize that even with having everything in place to warn, inform, and protect, we still need heart-renewing grace. The hope for our day and age, for our youth and families, lies not in man, not in filters, but in the Lord who continues to gather His people until the last one has been added to His kingdom. Daniel and his friends also lived in the world but by grace did not want to be of the world. We read that Daniel had an inner room where he sought strength in God. He realized, like Jehosaphat, that in us there is no strength “against this great company,” but his eyes were upon the Lord. Daniel also knew that in order to fight this battle we have to use the means available to us. We do not battle against flesh and blood but against many spiritual enemies.

Finally, the authors see this book as “a small introduction to media attitudes and media wisdom.” We wholeheartedly agree with their wish that “our children see us living the life of a true pilgrim” and receive the desire to become such a true pilgrim themselves. Therefore, we cannot endorse the use of social media, and encourage all to stay away from social media such as Instagram and Snapshot because of the many dangers and waste of time associated with the use of social media.

Yet, we would like to see this book in the hands of our families and office bearers to build awareness. May the Lord use it to open many eyes for the manifold dangers inherent to the modern media. By nature, our own hearts are so connected to these dangers that we need the grace that is found in Him who still has a willing people in the day of His power. Such people may delight in God’s commandments. Do we recognize ourselves as being one of these people?

The book is available from local modern media committees or church book rooms.

—The Synodical Modern Media Committee

Rev. E. Hakvoort, Chairman

Elder John Van Zweden, Secretary

Periodicals Available for Download

Recent editions of The Banner of Truth, Paul, and Insight Into have been added to the website for viewing and downloading.

You can access them here: Periodicals

They are listed in reverse order, with the newest periodicals on top.

Dealing with Online Temptations and Thoughts on Accountability

The NRC Synodical Modern Media Committee

-Published in The Banner of Truth, February 2019

Biblical Accountability

There is a need for man to ever be aware of his accountability to a higher power. One should always be mindful of this as Joseph expressed in Genesis 39:9, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Our first accountability is to God. Ultimately, the best accountability filter is to have a Spirit-wrought faith in exercise. Even David as king fell into sin when his faith was not in exercise. To this end, God was pleased to provide us with a Book of His revealed will. To promote a continuous awareness of this, Joshua was divinely exhorted to “meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein” (Joshua 1:8). We also read in Psalm 1:2 of the blessedness of the man whose “delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” This reference to “the law” includes the entire Bible. For example, Jesus said unto the Jews in John 10:34, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” This is written in Psalm 82:6, not in the books of Moses regarding the law.

There is a biblical structure of human accountability. For example, children are accountable to their parents and teachers, employees are accountable to their employers for the work they are hired to do, and citizens are accountable to civil authorities. We are also accountable to our families, friends, and communities because our sin also affects them. It especially affects our spouse when we sin in being unfaithful to them through the viewing of pornography. Regarding one’s personal life, an awareness of accountability must be maintained—thus the exhortations of Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:2 referenced earlier. One should live in a manner that avoids the appearance of evil and minimizes temptation. “Abstain from all appearances of evil,” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Each adult should decide for himself if accountability to another person would be helpful; those with a particular weakness should seriously consider some type of interpersonal accountability. Also, parents may want to use account- ability to give oversight and guidance to their children.

We should promote continual reading of God’s Word, seeking the “one thing needful,” seeking always to be kept by the Lord from sin and uncleanness, and being mindful of “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11b). As we can see from the above scriptural references, man must be reminded of these things. We must also be reminded of the evil of modern temptations. It is possible that a person might not see the evil and addicting nature of various sinful activities because these things have become commonplace and generally tolerated or accepted in society. Therefore, periodic warnings from the pulpit and those given in church publications are desirable and necessary.

Practical thoughts relating to online accountability

It is possible to use technology as a means for online accountability. There are many mobile device apps and accountability programs that can be used to provide reports to an accountability partner. Here are some thoughts to consider:

  • What are accountability programs? Accountability programs monitor online activity and provide reports of this activity to a chosen accountability partner or partners.
  • Why use accountability programs? Accountability programs, by themselves, will not prevent access to, or protect a person from accessing inappropriate content online. Their purpose is to help provide additional motivation to resist sinful inclinations in the moment of temptation. Social scientists have found a phenomenon called “online disinhibition effect.” This term refers to people saying and doing things online that they would not say or do in real life. In the past it was much more difficult to purchase sinful magazines or pictures, and it typically could only be done in a public place. Accountability programs similarly force the online equivalent of these sinful actions out into the open. God’s common grace can still give us a speaking conscience and a sense of shame should these sins become known to one’s accountability partner.
  • Like all Internet filters and accountability programs, a person intent on bypassing or disabling them can do so with some effort. The intent is to make this process difficult and cause a person to think twice about his decision to circumvent Internet filtering-accountability tools.
  • Accountability is a personal choice. Te person and his partner must be both willing and committed to the process. It may be useful for some but not feasible for others. It is only one means or tool among others that can be used to help us in fighting against sin.
  • In general, using accountability is not a long-term solution for guarding against access to inappropriate Internet content. It is probably not realistic to have an accountability partner review your activity for five or ten years in succession. “Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee” (Proverbs 25:17).
  • An accountability partner needs to:
    • Be willing to spend the time each week to actually look at accountability reports.
    • Have a strong enough relationship with you that he/she is willing to confront you on questionable content.
    • Be someone who can not only confront you when necessary but also encourage you.
    • Be willing to have face-to-face conversations periodically.
    • Have a clear understanding of what is expected of him/her (i.e. what content category/categories or issue(s) should be discussed with you).
    • Be someone with whom you are comfortable having view your online activities.
  • If you should fall into temptation and your accountability partner fails to confront you, do not use your accountability partner as a scapegoat and blame him. You are the one responsible for your actions.
  • Make sure you understand why you are motivated to use accountability; explain your reasons to your accountability partner.
  • Explain to your accountability partner how best to contact and challenge you, should that become necessary (e.g. a phone call, an email message, a conversation in person, etc.).
  • Do not expect or require your spouse to be an accountability partner; give him/her the choice. Having a spouse as an accountability partner may give a sense of openness and honesty in a marriage. Sometimes it is just too difficult for a spouse to review a weekly accountability report as it may cause a great amount of anxiety thinking about every temptation that his or her spouse might have faced that week. For many couples this can become an unhealthy strain on their marriage as a spouse may not want to be the sole person one’s marriage partner depends on for help.
  • If your spouse is acting as your accountability partner, it is recommended that you send your reports to at least one other person of your own gender.
  • If you are interested in accountability reporting software, Covenant Eyes and Qustodio are software applications that have been tested and are in use by members of the modern media committees formed in several of the Netherlands Reformed Congregations. These packages handle filtering as well as accountability and work well.


There are different means we can use to fight against temptations in the digital media environment that surrounds us today. Accountability, like many of the other tools used to restrict access to sinful Internet content, must be properly understood regarding its benefits and limitations. We must realize that implementing personal Internet accountability requires the blessing of the Lord to be effective and useful. As stated earlier, the best media filter is to truly feel our accountability to God and seek His grace so that we might be made obedient unto His will as it is revealed in the Scriptures.

Accessing Banner of Truth Articles Electronically

Digital copies of Banner of Truth articles may now be accessed on the Dutch website Digibron ( as approved by the NRC Synod.   Since we have found the site to be somewhat difficult to navigate without a knowledge of the Dutch language, we have posted some preliminary instructions for using the site.  These instructions may be found here.