Religion in the 21st century Religion21
Religion in the 21st Century
© George D. Chryssides 2021
Page created 23 November 2021
Last updated 16 March 2024
Terminology in religion can be problematic for a variety of reasons. Some terms can be pejorative, such as ‘cult’ - a word typically used by opponents of certain spiritual and other groups - and ‘folk religion’, which might imply that popular spiritual practice is inferior to scholarly erudition. Other terms can be vague: what exactly do we mean when we describe a spiritual leader as ‘charismatic’, and what precisely are we claiming when we categorize a piece of narrative as ‘myth’?

The editors - George D. Chryssides and Amy R. Whitehead invited an international group of scholars to consider questions such as the following:

- Why is this concept problematic?
- What are the origins of the concept?
- How is it used or misused, and by whom?
- Is it still a legitimate concept in the study of religion
          and, if so, what are its legitimate uses?
- Are there other concepts that are preferable when writing on religion?

The criteria for selecting the chosen concepts covered are the prevalence of their use in the study of religion, and the degree to which they generate problems. While the editors recognised that many more concepts could have been identified, the number was limited to allow adequate discussion by the various authors.

The book aims to foster more critical use of the chosen concepts among scholars of religion, and to provide students at undergraduate and postgraduate level with a clear, concise introduction to the meaning of such terms, and the ways in which they should legitimately be used.

Publication date: 8 September 2022

For publisher's information, please click here.
Contested Concepts in the Study of Religion

edited by George D. Chryssides
and Amy R. Whitehead

1.  Belief -- Nick Campion (University of Wales, Trinity Saint David’s)

2.  Charisma -- Edward Irons
          (Hong Kong Institute for Commerce, Culture and Religion)

3.  Conversion -- David Bromley (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA)

4.  Cult -- Ben Zeller (Lake Forest College, USA)

5.  Diaspora -- Kim Knott (University of Lancaster, UK)

6.  Folk Religion -- Marion Bowman (Open University, UK)

7.  Fundamentalism -- Camille K Lewis (Furman University, USA)

8.  Guru -- Stephen Jacobs (University of Wolverhampton, UK)

9.  Indigenous Religions -- Graham Harvey (Open University, UK)

10. Magic -- Angela Puca (Leeds Trinity University, UK)

11. Millennialism -- Catherine Wessinger (Loyola University New Orleans, USA)

12. Myth -- Gregory W. Dawes (University of Otago)

13. New Age -- Shai Feraro (University of Haifa, Israel)

14. New Religious Movements -- George D. Chryssides

15. Pilgrimage -- Carole Cusack (University of Sydney, Australia)

16. Prophecy -- George D. Chryssides

17. Religion -- David Morgan (Duke University, USA)

18. Secularization -- Titus Hjelm (University of Helsinki, Finland)

19. Spirituality -- Steven Sutcliffe (University of Edinburgh, UK)

20. Superstition -- Amy R. Whitehead (Massey University, New Zealand)

21. Syncretism -- Bettina Schmidt (University of Wales, Trinity Saint David’s)

22. Violence -- Negar Partow (Massey University, New Zealand)

23. World Religion -- Teemu Taira (University of Helsinki, Finland)

24. Worship -- Christina Welch (University of Winchester, UK)

25. Case Study: Buddhism in the West
          -- George D. Chryssides & Amy R. Whitehead
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