Friday, November 11, 2011

Authority Online at

            Online religious authority is a relative term when fully considered. Who is the authority and how is their authority evaluated by the online community? When this matter is fully addressed, it appears that the majority of online authorities, whether religious or not, have become so due to loyal followers (or readers, watchers, fans, etc.)
            In areas of online forums concerning proper actions of Christians, such as, anyone with internet access can create an account and post their views as an answer to people’s questions most often derived from scriptures and social norms. This action of asserting one’s own authority in places such as online forum environments are what Pauling Cheong refers to in her authority chapter as displacement. Cheong goes on to define displacement as “[referring] to the acts of apparent change or movement, including supplanting power and furnishing an equivalent authority in place of another.”
            Concerning online Christian relations, especially Q&A forums similar to those found at Talk Jesus, traditional ideas of authority are undermined since there are no prerequisites to being allowed to take on questions on the Bible. The possibility of double-think theological views are much easier to be presented and must be taken account for in these areas of discussion. Although these possibilities exist and even take form in some traditional church bodies, the risk is significantly increased in online areas.
            At Talk Jesus, one user is consistently found as a top poster by the name of Chad. Chad is the founder of the site and has had no formal education that would place him high in most traditional church positions ( But Chad’s well-written and well-sourced posts have gained him a noticeable following from members on the site, making him, in a basic sense, THE biblical authority of most posts.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Christian Community on the Internet

            My paper seeks to answer the question, how do online interactions through social media sites foster community online within the realm of Christianity? 
            Not much has been written in relations to Christian community found within social media sites. My case study will focus on sites similar to Reddit, Twitter and Facebook; sites that focus on users' posts to generate content. By focusing on these websites I will be able to come closer to answering the question of whether Christian community is fostered on online social media websites.
            When examining it is easy to find posts from non-Christians and Christians alike, posting pictures, videos, and asking questions about their faith, such as the man asking questions here: . Reddittors often pride themselves on being an exclusive Internet community open to all, yet still set apart with a strong identity, as can be seen here: . Since Reddit provides threads to promote focused community, more specifically a Christian thread, it seems that studying Reddit could help in my understanding of Online Christian community.