Mediated religion : implications for religious authority

Cloete, Anita Louisa (2016)

CITATION: Cloete, A.L. 2016. Mediated religion : implications for religious authority. Verbum et Ecclesia, 37(1):1-6, doi:10.4102/ve.v37i1.1544.

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


The relationship between media and religion seems to be a well established research topic today. Themes like identity formation and community with regard to digital religion are well researched, but religious authority is pointed out as an area that needs more detailed investigation. Although the topic of authority has been of interest to scholars and practitioners, religious authority received less attention and systematic analysis. Therefore, this article considers the interplay between media and religion by highlighting the possible implications for religious authority when religion is mediated specifically through technology. To illustrate the possible implications for religious authority in a context where religion is mediated through technology, this article will identify certain shifts that took place with regard to religion. In the light of the identified changes with regard to religion, the article will attempt to specifically explore and identify the possible implications for religious authority. At least two theoretical perspectives used to investigate and understand the relationship between technology and theology will be mentioned, namely the instrumentalist and the cultural approach. The mediatisation theory will be discussed as a theory that fits within the cultural approach to media and religion. Furthermore, the mediatisation theory will serve as a theoretical lens to provide insight into how the changes and shifts discussed are changing religion and religious authority. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article draws on literature from cultural, media and religious studies and intends to stimulate and challenge theological reflection on the theme of mediatisation of religion and the implications for religious authority. Furthermore the article contributes to interdisciplinary research within theology.

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