There are sea changes happening in the Internet world today. The growing edge of the Internet is no longer about information delivery. The current wave of Internet growth, termed Web 2.0, is about helping people make meaningful connections. While social networking is making headlines in the western world, the news from the Third World is the phenomenal growth of Internet usage. Internet growth in the Third World is paralleled by Christian growth. With the exception of the Middle East, the regions with the highest growth of Internet usage mirror those where Christianity is growing fastest, namely: Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Traditionally, one of the first businesses to make inroads with the Internet is the porn industry. Christians generally lag behind. This presents Christians with a challenge and an opportunity to make a difference. There is an abundance of theological and Christian resources available in English and to a lesser extent, other western languages. Theopedia.com is an encyclopedia of Biblical Christianity modeled along the lines of wikipedia. It is in English. Why not offer resources for Third World Christians in the own languages and cultural contexts? And instead of teaching theology from the top-down, empower local Christians to theologize from the ground-up, asking and answering their own questions using the Bible as the primary tool and with the Holy Spirit as their guide.
This approach will not replace seminaries nor graduate theological education. Rather it seeks to fill the gap between Sunday School and seminary for the many, many Third World Christians who cannot afford the time or money to attend seminary. Who will write the articles? Along the lines of wikipedia-style collaboration, the local Christians themselves will write. They form online learning circles facilitated by a theologically trained moderator. This could be a student in seminary or an ex-missionary, someone who is familiar with the local language and culture.
The first question the facilitator would ask is: what is the most common or important questions that Christians in your community, culture, country are asking. Those are the questions that need to be answered, not by the facilitator but by the locals. What are some of the common answers being offered? Where in the Bible does it say so? Is there anyone in the Bible who has encountered a similar situation? How did God work in that situation? The locals will formulate their own responses and frame a theological perspective which can be further challenged by other members of the learning circle. A synthesis of the various approaches could then be edited into an article for the website.
That is the general idea, but how it actually works will have to be fine-tuned as we go along. It may even differ from one language and locale to another. The mission of teologio is therefore simply to empower Third World Christians to resource themselves theologically.