Unit 3: The Evolution of Religious Organizations (Summary)

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  • Created by: Charlotte
  • Created on: 20-03-13 08:56

Niebuhr: Suggested that religious organizations evolved from and around sects.

From cult to sect:

- Cults are often interpreted as precarious movements because they require little or no commitment by their followers.

- Wallis: In an effort to counteract their precariousness, some cults become more sect-like. They get distinctive teachings and a doctrine, a hierarchy emerges and authority is more likely to become centralised in a leader.  Followers become subjects to controls and greater commitment is required.

- Stark and Bainbridge: cult founders often encourage a sect-type 'turning inwards' because they lose hope.

From church to sect:

- Some sects begin with dissatisfied individuals within a church who feel betrayed by its corruption, worldliness or spiritual disintegration.

- These sects emerge from division or schism as members are expelled or break away.

From sect to denomination:

- Niebuhr: Claims that it is impossible for a sect to survive as a sect beyond a single generation because new members would not be able to sustain the fervour of the first generation- the nature…


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