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Spirituality: The Story of a Concept in the Psychology of Religion

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In the last decade the term spirituality has become popular in common discourse, as well as in psychological studies of religion. To many, it partly replaces the concept of religion, subsuming the aspects most important to psychology, while narrowing religion down to the formal, the institutional and the outer. At the same time spirituality, in contrast to religion, obtained a number of positive connotations. These changes seem to be sufficiently substantiated neither by new discoveries nor by radically new insights in our field.

Pargament offered a theoretical solution according to which spirituality is conceived as the key and unique function of religion, namely, the search for the sacred. This solution saves the concept of religion from losing its breadth and vitality while assigning the concept of spirituality a useful function in the psychology of religion. To support this solution, the author gives reasons for using the concept of spirituality, in scientific discourse, in the sense given to it by Pargament. When popularizing the psychology of religion and for facilitating communication with workers in other fields, the now usual, very broad and rather vague meaning of the term serves well. A brief review of questionnaires of spirituality is given. Their cursory content analysis confirms the author's conclusions.


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