Sacred Schisms: How Religions Divide

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Schism (from the Greek 'to split') refers to a group that breaks away from another, usually larger organisation and forms a new organisation. Though the term is typically confined to religious schisms, it can be extended to other kinds of breakaway groups. Because schisms emerge out of controversies, the term has negative connotations. Though they are an important component of many analyses, schisms in general have not been subjected to systematic analysis. This volume provides the first book-length study of religious schisms as a general phenomenon. Some chapters examine specific case studies while others provide surveys of the history of schisms within larger religious traditions, such as Islam and Buddhism. Other chapters are more theoretically focused. Examples are drawn from a wide variety of different traditions and geographical areas, from early Mediterranean Christianity to modern Japanese New Religions, and from the Jehovah's Witnesses to Neo-Pagans.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'This is an interesting and worthwhile collection of fourteen essays, predominantly case studies, examining why and how schisms occurred in a variety of religious traditions and movements … offers an interesting introduction to an overlooked topic in the sociology of religion through a series of well-crafted case studies.' Scottish Journal of Theology
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521881470
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/25/2009
  • Pages: 338
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

James R. Lewis is lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. He is editor of a number of collected works including The Invention of Sacred Tradition (2007) with Olav Hammer and author of numerous books and articles including Legitimating New Religions (2003).

Sarah M. Lewis is Lecturer in Religious Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Wales, Lampeter.

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Table of Contents

Introduction James R. Lewis and Sarah Lewis; Part I. Theoretical Overview: 1. Understanding schisms: theoretical explanations for their origins Roger Finke and Christopher P. Scheitle; Part II. Survey of Schisms in Selected Traditions: Charismatic Authority in Islam: 2. An analysis of the cause of schisms in the Ummah Ron Geaves; 3. Schisms in Buddhism Alan Cole; 4. Schisms in Japanese new religious movements Robert Kisala; Part III. Christian Tradition: 5. Finishing the mystery - the Watch Tower and 'The 1917 Schism' George D. Chryssides; 6. Challenges to charismatic authority in the unificationist movement David G. Bromley and Rachel Bobbitt; 7. Persecution and schismogenesis: how a penitential crisis over mass apostasy facilitated the triumph of Catholic Christianity in the Roman Empire Joseph M. Bryant; Part IV. Western Esoteric Tradition: 8. Church universal and triumphant: shelter, succession and schism Susan J. Palmer and Michael Abravanel; 9. Schism and consolidation: the case of the theosophical movement Olav Hammer; 10. Satanists and nuts: the role of schisms in modern Satanism Jesper Aagaard Petersen; 11. Schism as midwife: how conflict aided the birth of a contemporary pagan community Murphy Pizza; Part V. Non-Western/Post Colonial: 12. Succession, religious switching, and schism in the Hare Krishna movement E. Burke Rochford, Jr.; 13. Schisms within Hindu guru groups: the transcendental meditation movement in North America Cynthia Ann Humes; 14. Schism in Babylon: colonialism, Afro-Christianity and Rastafari Christopher Partridge.

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