Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

Do We Image God On-line? The Opportunities and Challenges for Authentic Relationships in Cyberspace

Herzfeld, Noreen
Theology & Sexuality

Genesis 1 states that we are created in the image of God. While Biblical scholars have taken a performative approach, viewing God’s image in our actions, systematic theologians have viewed God’s image in relational terms. Thus, the quality of our relationships is crucial, not only for the health of our day to day lives but for our very identity. What makes a relationship authentic? Karl Barth suggests four criteria: that we look the other in the eye, speak to and hear the other, aid the other, and do it gladly. We look first at how our authentic relationships function to make God present among us and then use Barth’s criteria to examine the quality of relationships that exist primarily in cyberspace. Social media, in particular, present unique opportunities and challenges for forming authentic relationships and raise fundamental questions about who we are and where God is found among us.