Virtual Mediation of the Holy Spirit

Prospects for Digital Pentecostalism


  • Mark J Cartledge London School of Theology



internet, digital, virtual, mediation, Holy Spirit, church


This article explores the prospect for an academic account of digital Pentecostalism given the propensity that Pentecostals have towards the use of modern technology. It uses a recent Roman Catholic discussion of “virtual communion” as a point of departure and aims to transpose the discussion into a Pentecostal key. Using the concept of the mediation of the Holy Spirit as a bridge between the two traditions it considers the transposition of virtual communion, virtual logic and remediation, as well as the internet as an ancillary or alternative space. The intention of the article is not to offer a definitive account but to develop a conversation around digitally mediated Pentecostalism. This is a conversation that has already started but, in light of a greater dependency on internet communication due to Covid-19, invites more sustained attention.


Anderson, Allan. “Varieties, Taxonomies, and Definitions”. In Allan Anderson, Michael Bergunder, André Droogers and Cornelius van der Laan (eds), Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theories + Methods. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2010, pp. 13–29. DOI:

Asamoah-Gyadu, J. Kwabena. “Anointing Through the Screen: Neo-Pentecostalism and Televised Christianity in Ghana”. Studies in World Christianity 11.1 (2005), pp. 9–28. DOI:

Asamoah-Gyadu, J. Kwabena. “‘Get on the Internet!’ Says the LORD: Religion, Cybespace and Christianity in Contemporary Africa”. Studies in World Christianity 13.3 (2007), pp. 225–42. DOI:

Asamoah-Gyadu, J. Kwabena. “Of Faith and Visual Alertness: The Message of ‘Mediatised’ Religion in an African Pentecostal Context”. Material Religion 1.3 (2005), pp. 336–57. DOI:

Barker, Eileen. “Crossing the Boundary: New Challenges to Religious Authority and Control as a Consequence of Access to the Internet”. In Morten T. Højsgaard and Margit Warburg (eds), Religion and Cyberspace. Abingdon: Routledge, 2005, pp. 67–85.

Bennett, Jana Marguerite. Aquinas on the Web? Doing Theology in an Internet Age. London: T. & T. Clark, 2012.

Bolter, Jay David and Robert Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999. DOI:

Brey, Philip. “The Physical and Social Reality of Virtual Worlds”. In M. Grimshaw (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Virtuality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 42–54.

Bryant, Herschel Odell. Spirit Christology in the Christian Tradition: From the Patristic Period to the Rise of Pentecostalism in the Twentieth Century. Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2014.

Byers, Andrew. TheoMedia: The Media of God and the Digital Age. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2013.

Campbell, Heidi A. Exploring Religious Community Online: We are One in the Network. New York, Peter Lang, 2005.

Campbell, Heidi A. “Community”. In Heidi Campbell (ed.), Digital Religion: Understanding Religious Practice in New Media Worlds. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013, pp. 57–71. DOI:

Campbell, Heidi A. (ed.), Digital Ecclesiology: A Global Conversation. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University, 2020.

Careaga, Andrew. E-vangelism: Sharing the Gospel in Cyberpace. Lafayette, LA: Vital Issues Press, 1999.

Cartledge, Mark J. Encountering the Spirit: The Charismatic Tradition. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2006.

Cartledge, Mark J. The Mediation of the Spirit: Interventions in Practical Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015.

Cartledge, Mark J. and Andrew Davies. “A Megachurch in a Megacity: A Study of Cyberspace Representation”. PentecoStudies 13.1 (2014), pp. 58–79. DOI:

Cheong, Pauline Hope. “Authority”. In Heidi Campbell (ed.), Digital Religion: Understanding Religious Practice in New Media Worlds. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), pp. 72–87.

Chiluwa, Innocent. “Online Religion in Nigeria: The Internet Church and Cyber Miracles”. Journal of Asian and African Studies 47.6 (2012), pp. 734–49. DOI:

Church, Roman Catholic, Catechism of the Catholic Church: Revised in Accordance with the Official Latin Text Promulgated by Pope John Paul II (2nd edition). New York: Doubleday, 1995.

de Lubac, Henri. Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man. Trans. Lancelot C. Sheppard and Sr. Elizabeth Englund, OCD. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1988.

De Witte, Marleen. “Altar Media’s Living Word: Televised Charismatic Christianity in Ghana”. Journal of Religion in Africa 33.2 (2003), pp. 172–202. DOI:

De Witte, Marleen. “Television and the Gospel of Entertainment in Ghana”. Exchange 41 (2012), pp. 144–64. DOI:

Frahm-Arp, Maria. “Pentecostal Charismatic Christianity and Social Media in South Africa: Mitigating Marginality, Prosperity Teachings, and the Emergence of a Black Middle Class”. In Felicitas Becker, Joel Cabrita and Marie Rodet (eds), Religion, Media, and Marginality in Modern Africa. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2018, pp. 256–80.

Garrard, David J. “African Pentecostalism”. Journal of Beliefs & Values 30.3 (2009), pp. 231–44. DOI:

George, Susan. Religion and Technology in the 21st Century: Faith in the E-World. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing, 2006. DOI:

Hackett, Rosalind I. J. “Charismatic/Pentecostal Appropriation of Media Technologies in Nigeria and Ghana”. Journal of Religion in Africa 28.3 (1998), pp. 258–77. DOI:

Hackett, Rosalind I. J. “The New Virtual (Inter)Face of African Pentecostalism”. Society 46 (2009), pp. 496–503. DOI:

Heim, Michael. The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. DOI:

Højsgaard, Morten T. “Cyber-religion: On the Cutting Edge between the Virtual and the Real”. In Morten T. Højsgaard and Margit Warburg (eds), Religion and Cyberspace. London: Routledge, 2005, pp. 54–63.

Hunt, Stephen. “The Alpha Course and Its Critics: An Overview of the Debates”. PentecoStudies 4 (2005), pp. 1–21.

Hutchings, Tim. Creating Church Online: Ritual, Community and New Media. Abingdon: Routledge, 2017. DOI:

Judkins, Matt. “The Holy Spirit is Not Your Weird Uncle: How to Cultivate an Openness to the Holy Spirit in your Life and Congregation”. 15 April 2020. Retrieved from (accessed 25 February 2021).

Kalu, Ogbu. African Pentecostalism: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. DOI:

Lombard, M. and T. Ditton. “At the Heart of it All: The Concept of Presence”. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 3.2 (1997). DOI:

Macchia, Frank D. Jesus the Spirit Baptizer: Christology in the light of Pentecost. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018).

Martin, Pamela P., Tuere A., Bowles, LaTrese Adkins and Monica T. Leach. “Black Mega-Churches in the Internet Age: Exploring Theological Teachings and Social Outreach Efforts”. Journal of African American Studies 15 (2011), pp. 155–76. DOI:

McIntosh, Esther. “Belonging without Believing: Church as Community in an Age of Digital Media”. International Journal of Public Theology 9 (2015), pp. 131–55. DOI:

Oosterbaan, Martijn. “Virtual Re-evangelization: Brazilian Churches, Media and the Postsecular City”. In Arie Molendijk, Justin Beaumont and Christoph Jedan (eds), Exploring the Postsecular: The Religions, the Political and the Urban. Leiden: Brill, 2010, pp. 281–308. DOI:

Oosterbaan, Martijn. “Virtually Global: Online Evangelical Cartography”. Social Anthropology 19.1 (2011), pp. 56–73. DOI:

Putnam, Robert. Bowling Alone. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000. DOI:

Pype, Katrien. “Blackberry Girls and Jesus’s Brides”. Journal of Religion in Africa 46 (2016), pp. 390–416. DOI:

Robeck, Cecil M. “An Emerging Magisterium: The Case of the Assemblies of God”. Pneuma: the Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 25.2 (2003), pp. 164–215. DOI:

Schmidt, Katherine G. Virtual Communion: Theology of the Internet and Catholic Sacramental Imagination. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2020.

Spadaro, Antonio. Cybertheology: Thinking Christianity in the Era of the Internet. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014. DOI:

Togarasei, Lovemore. “Broadcasting the Word: Modern Pentecostal Churches’ Use of Media Technologies”. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 129 (2007), pp. 70–81.

Togarasei, Lovemore. “Mediating the Gospel: Pentecostal Christianity and Media Technology in Botswana and Zimbabwe”. Journal of Contemporary Religion 27.2 (2012), pp. 257–74. DOI:

Vondey, Wolfgang. Pentecostal Theology: Living the Full Gospel. London: T. & T. Clark, 2017. DOI:

Wacker, Grant. Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Williams, Andrew Ray. “The Silicon Valley Meets Azusa Street: Opportunities and Obstacles to a Pentecostal Cyber-Ecclesiology in Pneumatological Perspective”. The Pentecostal Educator 3.1 (2016), pp. 8–17.



How to Cite

Cartledge, M. J. (2022). Virtual Mediation of the Holy Spirit: Prospects for Digital Pentecostalism. PentecoStudies, 21(1), 30–50.