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The functional view of religion: Limits and dangers

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the fact that the sociologically functional conception of religion has, to a large extent, entered even theological thinking and ecclesiastical practice itself. It aims to lay bare, as briefly as possible, some of the limits and potential dangers of the functional view. The chapter presents an insight into the practical impact of functional thinking by taking a look at the church's official arguments concerning the abolishment of the German Protestants' Day of Prayer and Repentance. According to an exclusively functional understanding of religion, that which is "true" in religion can only be what fulfils the demanded social function and thereby prove itself socially necessary. In a process of critical self-reflection, it is time to rethink the pattern of understanding offered by the functional view of religion, which superficially appears so easy to be handled within the theological field with respect to its limits and dangers.

Keywords: Christian; ecclesiastical practice; religion; society; sociology; theology



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