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Comparative empirical research in religion: Conceptual and operational challenges within empirical theology

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Chapter Summary

This chapter exposes and evaluates the attempt of one specific tradition of empirical theology to establish a basis for comparative empirical research in religion. It begins by formulating a research question intelligible within an individual differences approach to social science enquiry. The second step is shaped by a social scientific analysis of the dimensions of religion, and argues for the primacy of one dimension as the basis for comparative empirical research in religion. The third step examines the usefulness of this dimension of religion for comparative empirical research within an English speaking Christian context across denominational divides. The fourth step involves embracing comparative empirical research within Christian contexts across linguistic divides. The fifth step broadens the discussion to embrace comparative empirical research across religious traditions, illustrated by Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. The sixth step illustrates three examples of this research approach within the individual differences tradition applied in practice.

Keywords: Christian theology; comparative empirical research; empirical theology; Hinduism; Islam; Judaism; linguistic divides; religious traditions



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