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Religious Identity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter seeks to answer two questions: what does the religious identity of individuals and communities consist in, and how can one research it? The concept of religious identity comprises two terms: religion and identity. In the chapter the term 'religion' refers to individuals and communities dealing with the dialectical relation between autonomy and contingency, especially in existentially meaningful situations and experiences, in a perspective of divine transcendence. For the term 'identity' there is no better source to start with than book ten of Aristotle's Metaphysics, in which identity is viewed in terms of a dialectic relation between 'same' and 'other'. Same' in religious identity is expressed in permanence over time, and 'other' in the relation between identity and alterity. Finally, the relation in comparative research into religious identity by way of two methods (qualitative and quantitative) and from two perspectives (insider and outsider) is analyzed.

Keywords: alterity; qualitative method; quantitative method; religious identity



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