This post has been updated, expanded and re-posted here. Just fyi.
So in the StrangeFire aftermath, one of the complaints that has been lodged at the conference and the whole cessationist case is that we always grab the “low hanging fruit” on the fringe of the movement as some sort of normative representation of the movement as a whole. We’re told that we grab absurd examples and try to pass them off as some sort of example of the mainstream. The level-headed folks are the obvious mainstream representatives, and the entranced glossolalaholics and Fletch-clone healers are the fringe, right?
This argument has always made me puzzled since it’s so horribly obvious to me that the theologically absurd charismatic church of 20,000 obviously has far more influence in the movement and “on the street” than the theologically restrained charismatic church of 2,000 (and that’s being generous since the theologically absurd churches aren’t just bigger, but far more numerous).
So, I thought to myself, how can I give some sort of objective measure of influence? How can we say who is mainstream and who is fringe? Then I had an idea. Its not a great idea, but an idea none the less. I’m going to look at online presence in the form of Twitter reach (as measured by followers) as a general indicator of just how many people are paying attention to whom. Continue reading