The age of the Internet has birthed a crisis of authority, especially for women.
Today’s post by Tish Harrison Warren launches a two-month series on the state of women’s discipleship in evangelical America. As evidenced by a recent Twitter discussion, the conversation continues to spread and split into what scientists call a dendritic—a series of branching pathways that resemble a tree or a nervous system. In this case, we have a series of interconnected (and very complicated) questions related to women’s ministry, social media, platform, race and ethnicity, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and ecclesial authority and accountability.
Rather than contain the conversation in one piece, we’re offering a multiplicity of voices on various topics that all intersect at the nexus point of women’s discipleship and the church. Each piece will seek to illuminate the topic from a unique perspective and also interact with ideas posited by previous pieces (even in the form of hearty disagreement). We hope in sum that the series challenges, encourages, and inspires women to, in Warren’s words, “build and shape institutions larger than ourselves” in light of the gospel.
The rise of the blogosphere in the early 2000s yielded the genre of the “spiritual blogger.” From the comfort of their living rooms, lay people suddenly became household names, wielding influence over tens of thousands of followers. A new kind of Christian celebrity—and authority—was born: the speaker and author who comes to us (often virtually) as a seemingly autonomous voice, disembedded from any larger institution or ecclesial structure.
Just as the invention of the printing press helped spark the Protestant Reformation and created a crisis of authority, the advent …