Skip to content
BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access November 4, 2019

Truth Communication in Times of Digital Abundance: A Practical Theological Perspective

Thomas Schlag EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Theology


Digital providers inundate their users with an abundance of words, as well as pictorial and iconic information that has long become almost unmanageable. In terms of religious communicative usage, there are some indications that a new, perhaps even disruptive quality is being introduced into these digital practices, particularly with regard to truth communication. For both the individual actors and their places of lived religion and religious communication, the claim to truth expressed in each case is influenced by the very dynamics of digital use. Against this background, the basic question arises of whether a practical-theological reflection in the mode of a critical observation of these digital dynamics is conceivable at all. Therefore, I examine the current dynamics of digital media use in more detail by focusing on the anthropologically and theologically relevant concept of “searching” in a fundamental sense. The question arises of whether the implied, highly intensive and independent religious search developments are actually able to represent and promise in their entirety that “truth” which can be meaningfully searched for and found according to theological understanding. From these reflections on a practical public theology, some exemplary consequences for the field of religious educational practice are subsequently pointed out. I argue that, in the sense of cultivating critical perception and interpretation competence, an awareness of the significance of this abundance of analogous expressions and behaviors should be created in concrete educational processes. But an awareness should also be created of the relevance of developing an identity and a personal relationality in the digital world, shaped by the theological idea not only of “searching,” but of “finding” and “being found.”


Brunn, Frank Martin. Raum. Kirche. Öffentlichkeit. Dynamiken aktueller Präsenz. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2019.Search in Google Scholar

Campbell, Heidi A., ed. Religion and the Internet, 3 vols. London: Routledge, 2018.Search in Google Scholar

Campbell, Heidi A. and Stephen Garner. Networked Theology. Negotiating Faith in Digital Culture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016.Search in Google Scholar

Cheong, Pauline Hope, ed. Digital Religion, Social Media, and Culture. Perspectives, Practices, and Futures. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.Search in Google Scholar

Dalferth, Ingolf U. God First. Die reformatorische Revolution der christlichen Denkungsart. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2018.Search in Google Scholar

Dalferth, Ingolf U. Wirkendes Wort. Bibel, Schrift und Evangelium im Leben der Kirchen und im Denken der Theologie. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2018.Search in Google Scholar

Dalferth, Ingolf U. and Philipp Stoellger, eds. Wahrheit in Perspektiven. Probleme einer offenen Konstellation. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004.Search in Google Scholar

Dubois, Elizabeth and Grant Blank. “The Echo Chamber is Overstated: The Moderating Effect of Political Interest and Diverse Media.” Information, Communication & Society 21 (2018), 729–745.10.1080/1369118X.2018.1428656Search in Google Scholar

Englert, Rudolf. “Komposition des Differenten. Inwieweit ist so etwas wie eine ‚religiöse Identität’ heute noch möglich?” In Mensch – Religion – Bildung. Religionspädagogik in anthropologischen Spannungsfeldern, edited by T. Schlag and H. Simojoki, 128–139. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2014.Search in Google Scholar

Fischer, Max Julian. Meine Suchanfragen (text with installation). Heilbronn 2019.Search in Google Scholar

Gojny, Tanja, Kathrin S. Kürzinger, and Susanne Schwarz, eds. Selfie – I Like It. Anthropologische und ethische Implikationen digitaler Selbstinszenierung. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2016.Search in Google Scholar

Gray, Richard. “Lies, Propaganda, and Fake News: A Challenge for Our Age” (1 March 2017) [accessed 15 April 2019].Search in Google Scholar

Haberer, Johanna. Digitale Theologie. Gott und die Medienrevolution der Gegenwart. München: Kösel, 2015.Search in Google Scholar

Jung, Volker. Digital Mensch bleiben. München: Claudius, 2018Search in Google Scholar

Levmore, Saul and Martha C. Nussbaum, eds. The Offensive Internet. Speech, Privacy, and Reputation. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2012.10.2307/j.ctvjf9zc8Search in Google Scholar

Meireis, Torsten. “‘O dass ich tausend Zungen hätte.’ Chancen und Gefahren der digitalen Transformation politischer Öffentlichkeit – die Perspektive evangelischer Theologie.” In Digitaler Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf politische Partizipation im Wandel, edited by J. Bedford-Strohm, F. Höhne, and J. Zeyher-Quattlender, 47–62. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2019.10.5771/9783845291802-47Search in Google Scholar

Meyer-Blanck, Michael. “Unterscheiden, was zusammengehört. Zum Verhältnis von Wahrheitsfrage und Wirklichkeitsdeutung im Kontext religiöser Bildung.” ZPT 68 (2016), 7–18.Search in Google Scholar

Meyer-Blanck, Michael. “Praktische Theologie und Religion.” In Praktische Theologie. Eine Theorie- und Problemgeschichte, edited by C. Grethlein and H. Schwier, 353–397. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2007.Search in Google Scholar

Meyer-Blanck, Michael. Gottesdienstlehre. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011.10.1628/978-3-16-151855-3Search in Google Scholar

Müller von Blumencron, Mathias. “Trennt Propaganda von Wahrheit!” FAZ, 5 February 2016. [].Search in Google Scholar

Nord, Ilona, “‘Die Wahrheit hat einen einzigen Namen: Jesus Christus.’ Zum religionspädagogischen Umgang mit religiöser Wahrheit in einer mediatisierten Welt.” In Renaissance religiöser Wahrheit. Thematisierungen und Deutungen in praktisch-theologischer Perspektive, edited by I. Nord and T. Schlag, 203–223. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2017.Search in Google Scholar

Nord, Ilona and Hanna Zipernovsky, eds. Religionspädagogik in einer mediatisierten Welt. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2017.Search in Google Scholar

Oorschot, Frederike van. “Fragmentierte Öffentlichkeiten und geteilte Realität. Zum osmotischen Potential theologischer Modellierung.” In Digitaler Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf politische Partizipation im Wandel, edited by J. Bedford-Strohm, F. Höhne, and J. Zeyher-Quattlender, 83–94. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2019.10.5771/9783845291802-83Search in Google Scholar

Oorschot, Frederike van. “Making Public Theology Operational: Public Theology and the Church.” International Journal of Public Theology 13 (2019), 203–226.Search in Google Scholar

Pariser, Eli. The Filter Bubble. What the Internet is Hiding from You. New York: Penguin Press, 2011.10.3139/9783446431164Search in Google Scholar

Phillips, Peter, Kyle Schiefelbein-Guerrero, and Jonas Kurlberg. “Defining Digital Theology: Digital Humanities, Digital Religion and the Particular Work of the CODEC Research Centre and Network.” Open Theology 5 (2019), 29–43.Search in Google Scholar

Rosa, Hartmut. Unverfügbarkeit. Salzburg: Residenz Verlag, 2018.Search in Google Scholar

Schlag, Thomas. Öffentliche Kirche. Grunddimensionen einer praktisch-theologischen Kirchentheorie. Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2012.Search in Google Scholar

Schlag, Thomas. “Religionspädagogik als Lebenswissenschaft. Bildungstheoretische Vermessungen in weisheitlich-lebensdienlicher Perspektive.” Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 116 (2019), 228–250.Search in Google Scholar

Schröter, Jens, “Analog/Digital – Opposition oder Kontinuum?” In Analog/Digital – Opposition oder Kontinuum? Zur Theorie und Geschichte einer Unterscheidung, edited by J. Schröter and A. Böhnke, 7–30. Bielefeld: Transcript-Verlag, 2004.10.1515/9783839402542-001Search in Google Scholar

Spiekermann, Sarah. Digitale Ethik. Ein Wertesystem für das 21. Jahrhundert. Munich: Droemer, 2019.Search in Google Scholar

Stalder, Felix. Kultur der Digitalität. Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2016.Search in Google Scholar

Thiede, Werner. Digitaler Turmbau zu Babel. Der Technikwahn und seine Folgen. München: Oekom, 2015.Search in Google Scholar

Volf, Miroslav and Matthew Croasmun. For The Life of the World. Theology that Makes a Difference. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2019.Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2019-07-08
Accepted: 2019-10-04
Published Online: 2019-11-04

© 2019 Thomas Schlag, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

Downloaded on 6.12.2022 from
Scroll Up Arrow