The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism

The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism

The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism

The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism

Synopsis

This book presents a new psychological framework for understanding religious fundamentalism, one that distinguishes fundamentalist traditions from other faith-based groups and helps explain the thinking and behavior of believers. Steering clear of stereotypes, the highly regarded authors offer respectful, historically informed examinations of several major fundamentalist groups. Focusing primarily on Protestant sects, including the Church of God (a Pentecostal denomination), the serpent handling sects of Appalachia, and the Amish, the book also discusses Islamic fundamentalism. Addressed are such key themes as the role of the sacred text within fundamentalism; how beliefs and practices that many find difficult to comprehend actually fit into coherent meaning systems; and how these meaning systems help meet individuals' needs for purpose, value, and self-worth.

Excerpt

Fundamentalism is Luther's Biblicalism in a new phase.

—BARZUN (2000, p. 10)

In the introduction to his excellent book, Joel Carpenter (1997) carefully distinguishes between broad and narrow definitions of “fundamentalism.” a narrow definition is necessary for historians of religion, according to Carpenter, so that their field of study will not be obscured by a generic understanding that obscures the distinctive and unique identities of specific religious traditions. He points to the masterful works of historians George Marsden and Ernest Sandeen (and we would now add Carpenter himself), which trace Protestant fundamentalism as a historically distinct religious movement with constitutive beliefs that set it apart from other conservative forms of Protestantism, including evangelicalism. Marsden (1980) identifies several definitive characteristics of fundamentalists that, at first glance, appear common to all evangelical movements. Such characteristics include a particular set of beliefs, especially premillenialism (regarding the second coming of Christ) and Biblical inerrancy (which implies a host of other doctrines). Other distinctive features include revivalism, self-perceived patriotism, antiliberalism, an emphasis on cognitive and ideological factors, and a commonsense realist philosophy rooted in the views of Thomas Reid. But members of other evangelical groups, who do not identify themselves (correctly so) as fundamentalists, also claim each of these beliefs and characteristics. So what sets apart Protestant fundamentalists from these others? According to Marsden, a militant opposition to modernism, both theologically and culturally, is what distinguishes Protestant fundamentalism from its conservative Protestant cousins. Such a view is also associated with the Fundamentalism Project, directed by Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, who apply this initially Protestant term (though not uniquely a Protestant phenomenon) to a host of other faith . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.