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Religion in Modern Society

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image of Journal of Empirical Theology

The sociologist, Peter Berger, divided the possibilities for religious affirmation in a modem society into three categories: a deductive, an inductive and a reductive approach. The question in the present research is whether these three categories can be empirically validated and arranged in a continuum. To test this hypothesis, the categories were ordered according to the degree of 'actualization': the degree to which a religious tradition could be reformulated. In order to do this, Berger's classification was extended to include a fourth category, which we called 'detachment'. This extended typology was then tested and the classification proved to have both internal and external validity. The typology could also be empirically characterised by a single dimension. Using the Berger-based typology proposed here, it is possible to distinguish different positions in relation to the Christian tradition. The proposed typology may also allow us to further understand the dynamics of religious beliefs in changing times.

Affiliations: 1: Department at the University of Nijmegen


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