Digital Church and Media – in a Historical and Contemporary Context

Stefan Gelfgren

Abstract

The underlying question for this article is: – “is what is now happening online really new, and something never seen outside the internet, and before the internet?” Previous research has to a large extent emphasized the distinctive characteristics of internet culture, as separated from what is happening in the “real/physical” world. That is a approach also valid for how churches online have been seen, and there has been an established distinction between religion online (religious churches and representatives with an online presence), and online religion (religion conducted and practiced in an online environment). However, technical advantages in recent years (which also has changed our behavior online) has made this distinction more fluid and difficult to defend. But there is also a historical continuity of using modern media within the church, making it difficult to claim that contemporary transformations within the Christian sphere are unique. There are several historical examples of how media use changes religious faith and practices throughout time. This article will put digital churches into a contemporary and historical context in order to discuss if it is relevant to uphold a distinction between churches online vis-à-vis churches offline.

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