Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Practical Theology

First Advisor

Glenn Nielsen

Scripture References in this Resource

Romans 8:13-14; 1 Corinthians 15:43; 1 John 4:12; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:3-5; Galatians 3:26-28; Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 1:28; Genesis 2:15; Genesis 2:18; Genesis 2:24; Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:9-19; Luke 3:16; Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 5:45; Psalm 139:13-14; Psalm 34:8; Psalm 90; Romans 6:4-5


Oesch, Joel, C. "More than a Pretty Face: Using Embodied Lutheran Theology to Evaluate Community-building in Online Social Networks." Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2015. 264pp.

The human body holds a special place in Christian theology. Jesus gives of his body in the crucifixion and experiences bodily resurrection on Easter morning. The sacrament of Holy Communion is a common partaking in the actual body and blood of Christ. But what of the human body for the Christian, and of what import does this have for the broader community? The dissertation seeks to build on these facts and make a case for a Lutheran embodied theology and apply this theology to the online social network phenomenon. Such a theology is composed of three crucial pillars. First, humans exist as limited but redeemed creatures. Second, the sacramental life of the Christian is wholly embodied. Third, Christians look forward to bodily resurrection of the dead at the end of time. Each of these pillars reinforce the uniquely physical nature of the human—whether as individual or in his/her relationship to the broader community.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theological anthropology argues for an individual who is simultaneously embodied and communal. One cannot be a Christian apart from the community, nor can they understand their status as creature without respecting their own somatic form. His theology of embodiment ultimately outlines three constitutive features of the Christian community: depth, local bondedness, and reciprocal trust. With these three features in mind, this dissertation offers criteria for evaluating other claims of community, particularly those found in online environments.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.