Evangelical women bloggers bring gender, authority questions to surface

The democratic and free-wheeling world of the Christian blogosphere has elevated the role of evangelical women while posing a crisis of authority in churches and denominations, writes Tish Harrison Warren in Christianity Today magazine (April 27). The rise of the blogosphere has led to a new kind of Christian celebrity and authority—“the speaker and the author who comes to us (often virtually) as a seemingly autonomous voice, disembedded from any larger institution or ecclesial structure.” One recent example of this crisis involves the popular blogger Jen Hatmaker, who generated controversy when she announced that her views about homosexuality had changed, leading the book distributor Lifeway to stop selling her books.

The incident has brought up the question of authority and the need for some type credentials for bloggers, especially as women Christian bloggers have filled a vacuum in some churches and denominations that don’t give women public teaching and preaching roles. Their readers look to these women bloggers for spiritual formation and inspiration, while they are operating outside of denominational and institutional structures. Warren concludes that denominations that restrict women in leadership nevertheless need to realize that their women members are receiving teaching from women bloggers and need to find a way to authorize or commission these bloggers to recognize their authority and keep it accountable to larger structures.
(Christianity Today, http://www.christianitytoday.com/)