Religious authenticity online is not a static entity or fixed system. The Christian hierarchy does not have a singular leader such as the Pope with Catholicism. Different sects of Christians (Baptists, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc.) have different views on what constitutes as authenticity in their religion. What constitutes as authentic is not in the hands of religious experts, but is more so defined at a local level. For example, what I believe to be authentic is different from my Pentecostal friends because of our local environment. Context influences actions so individual authenticity is negotiated. In the Christian faith, the only presence of the offline culture that should be ever present is the Christian text (the Bible). As stated in previous blogs, the Bible is the physical embodiment of God’s word. Religious authority stems from the Bible. However, our society and culture has blended religious authenticity so it stems from both offline and online culture. For example, if you have Christian friends on Facebook, it is likely that you have seen the “Share if you are a Christian” posts. To some, this is a form of religious authenticity. They feel as if they are doing their part in spreading the message of Jesus. While the Bible does not specifically address sharing the Gospel from a computer, online culture views the Internet as a landscape for doing so. This challenges the conventional approach of physically going around the world and becoming vessels for Christ. As stated before, we see a blending narrative take place that is continually streamed from an offline context and online context. Christian culture is continually becoming a “melting pot” of offline and online contexts. For example, many churches have transitioned into streaming their church services into the online realm. This is a form of blending. As seen in these examples, authenticity is negotiated.
Friday, November 4, 2016
Every image we have explored has one thing in common: a source of authority. Christianity is predominantly a text based religion. For example, previously we explored the intersection of Christianity and politics through memes. Moses was used in the example of the Ten Commandments. The Bible teaches that God spoke to Moses, who then transcribed the Ten Commandments. In terms of authority, it is important to understand that the Bible (the Christian text) is inspired by God. 2 Timothy 3:16 states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” So even though Christianity is text based, all authority is derived from God.
The authority referred to in these memes is The Bible. This can be explicitly seen in the two memes below. For example, the first meme on the left directly references the Bible and how Donald Trump mispronounced Second Corinthians. National Public Radio (NPR) states, “Then he moved on to cite "Two Corinthians 3:17, that's the whole ballgame. ... Is that the one you like?" Trump asked.”
The second meme on the right is satirical in nature. The meme focuses on mocking Donald Trump’s behavior and use of language. It also presumes his lack of knowledge over the Bible. For example, in previous interviews Donald Trump has refused to cite his favorite Bible verse or even his favorite book of the Bible. As seen, most of these presumptions emerge from an online discourse as most people only see what the media covers.
The framing of authority in Christianity affects how Donald Trump delivers his campaign. At many of his events he has kept a Bible in his hands. Not only is the Bible the Christian text, but Trump uses it as more of a symbol to connect with his targeted audience.