Disciplinary Perspectives on New Religious Movements: Views from the Humanities and Social Sciences
This chapter examines the methods and theories proposed by four major disciplines to understand the presence of new religious movements in the West. It first describes the psychological approach, with reference both to the negative view which stresses the role of mind control in both recruiting and maintaining members, and to the literature that refutes it. Secondly, the sociological/anthropological approach is outlined and the trend for these disciples to see the NRMs as cultural and social phenomena arising in time of change is explained. Thirdly, the approach of Religious Studies, with its trend to describe, compare, classify, and interpret the movements, is outlined. Fourthly, the theological approach, which starts from a particular faith perspective, is analyzed with reference to the apologetic and dialogical perspectives. Finally, some suggestions for those teaching courses on NRMs are made.
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