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Editor: Stephen J. Hunt
The growth of the megachurch (generally defined as a regular attendance of over 2,000 people) is undoubtedly one of the most exceptional religious trends of recent times, certainly within the Christian sphere. Spreading from the USA, megachurches have now become common globally - reaching different national and cultural contexts. The edited volume Handbook of Megachurches offers a comprehensive account of the subject from various academic perspectives: sociology, religious studies, religious history and religious studies among them. Topics covered include: the historical developments and growth, typologies, theology, popular culture, revivalism, social engagement, and the manifestation of megachurches in such countries as Canada, Russia, India and Africa.
Religious Reproduction in Scientific and Philosophical Perspective
Where do gods come from – and what is the cost of bearing them? In Practicing Safe Sects F. LeRon Shults argues for the importance of having “the talk” about the causes and consequences of participating in religious sects. To survive and thrive as a social species, we humans are likely to continue needing some kind of sects (as well as sex) for quite some time. But can we learn how to practice safe sects? Can we live together in healthy and productive social networks without reproducing the superstitious beliefs and segregative behaviors that are engendered and nurtured by shared ritual engagement with imagined supernatural agents? In this provocative and timely book, Shults provides scientific and philosophical resources for answering these questions.
Huguenot Sermons and the Shaping of Confessional Identity, 1629-1685
In Preaching a Dual Identity, Nicholas Must examines seventeenth-century Huguenot sermons to study the development of French Reformed confessional identity under the Edict of Nantes. Of key concern is how a Huguenot hybrid identity was formulated by balancing a strong sense of religious particularism with an enthusiastic political loyalism. Must argues that sermons were an integral part of asserting this unique confessional position in both their preached and printed forms. To demonstrate this, Must explores a variety of sermon themes to access the range of images and arguments that preachers employed to articulate a particular vision of their community as a religious minority in France.
Volume 8: Pentecostals and the Body (2017)
The intersection of religion, ritual, emotion, globalization, migration, sexuality, gender, race, and class, is especially insightful for researching Pentecostal notions of the body. Pentecostalism is well known for overt bodily expressions that includes kinesthetic worship with emotive music and sustained acts of prayer. Among Pentecostals there is considerable debate about bodies, the role of the Holy Spirit, possession of evil spirits, deliverance, exorcism, revival, and healing of bodies and emotions. Pentecostalism is identified as a religion on the move and so bodies are transformed in the context of globalization. Pentecostalism is also associated with notions of sexuality, gender, race and class where bodies are often liberated and limited. This volume evaluates these themes associated with contemporary research on the body.
Collected Essays
Sociology of Shiʿite Islam is a comprehensive study of the development of Shiʿism. Its bearers first emerged as a sectarian elite, then a hierocracy and finally a theocracy. Imamate, Occultation and the theodicy of martyrdom are identified as the main components of the Shiʻism as a world religion. In these collected essays Arjomand has persistenly developed a Weberian theoretical framework for the analysis of Shiʿism, from its sectarian formation in the eighth century through the establishment of the Safavid empire in the sixteenth century, to the Islamic revolution in Iran in the twentieth century. These studies highlight revolutionary impulses embedded in the belief in the advent of the hidden Imam, and the impact of Shiʻite political ethics on the authority structure of pre-modern Iran and the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Beyond Durkheim and Rappaport
Why is religion so important to individuals and societies? What gives religion its profound meaningfulness and longevity? Enhancing perspectives taken from sociology and ritual theory, Religion, Emergence, and the Origins of Meaning describes how ‘emergence theory’ – developed to make sense of life and mind – explains why religious communities are special when compared to ordinary human social groups. Paul Cassell argues that in religious ritual, beliefs concerning unseen divine agencies are made uniquely potent, inviting and guiding powerful, alternative experiences, and giving religious groups a form of organization distinct from ordinary human social groups. Going beyond the foundational descriptions of Émile Durkheim and Roy Rappaport, Cassell utilizes the best of 21st century emergence theory to characterize religion’s emergent dynamics.
Contrasts and Overlaps
Many forms of present-day Western spirituality contribute to people’s well-being, whereas others have raised criticism. The study of these different forms is, however, complicated by their continuously diverging practices and ideas. By bringing to bear a multidisciplinary approach, the ten specialists of this volume are able to analyze diverse new instances of spirituality, e.g. in religious contexts (Buddhism, Christianity), popular use, organizations and enterprises, (alternative) health service, and works of art. Most contributions also discuss methods and theories. In their editorial chapters, Elisabeth Hense, Frans Jespers and Peter Nissen show the remarkable overlaps in the approaches, definitions and evaluations of the contributions in this volume and provide a theoretical framework. Both the fresh analyses and the theoretical reflections in this volume point the way to new approaches in this field of study.

Contributors include: Jerry Biberman, Mark Elliott, Miguel Farias, Johan Goud, Paul Heelas, Elisabeth Hense, Frans Jespers, Hubert Knoblauch, Peter Nissen, Paul van der Velde
This volume is about the impact of religion (beliefs and practices) on attitudes towards human rights of the first, second and third generation. The first four papers about the impact of Lutheranism, Calvinism, Catholicism and Islam are historical and theoretical of character. The six other papers are based on empirical research in England and Wales, Germany, Turkey, India, Norway and on comparative empirical research in six North-West European countries. From both groups of articles it appears that ‘the’ impact of religion does not exist. In varying historical periods and contexts various religions, c.q. religious denominations, have various effects on attitudes towards human rights, i.e. positive effects (+), ambivalent effects (±), no effects (0), and negative effects (−).

Contributors include: Francis-Vincent Anthony, Pal Ketil Botvar, Selim Eren, Leslie Francis, Üzejir Ok, Ruud Peters, Marion Reindl, Mandy Robbins, Rik Torfs, Johannes (Hans) van der Ven, John Witte Jr., Hans-Georg Ziebertz
Empirical-Theological Perspectives
In some parts of our world, religion is on the wane, losing its thrust of doctrinal authority and communal bonds. In other regions, it is gaining public significance as a powerful social, cultural and political force. Secularization theories are less successful in accounting for these differences in religion’s role. Other theories describe religion in terms of social capital to be invested whenever it offers certain personal, social or political benefits and market opportunities allow smart choices. Still other theories simply hold that religion corresponds to an inborn need or stable disposition that guarantees a culture’s identity and reflects a natural equilibrium of social cohesion. There are also critical theories that point to the intrinsic relationship of religion with power and identify it as a major cause of tension and conflict. In this book distinguished scholars reflect on these questions and present empirical research about religious identity and national heritage.
This volume contains theoretical and empirical articles on tensions within and between religion and human rights. There are conflicts in the past histories of Christianity and Islam in regard to human rights, but also in contemporary history. There are also tensions in the sphere of human rights, like the relation between natural law and human rights, morality and law, liberty and equality, civil rights and socio-economic rights, and more specific ones, like the rights of humans and citizens, religious freedom and the separation of church and state, religious freedom and freedom of speech, and the state and religion on social welfare provisions. The volume aims at theoretical clarification and empirical exploration on data from 14 countries.

Contributors include: Jean-Pierre Wils, Piet Hein van Kempen, Mathias Rohe, Johannes (Hans) van der Ven, Anders Sjöborg, Raymond J. Webb, Jack Curran, Marion Reindl, Leo W.J.M. van der Tuin, Clement D. Fumbo, and Hans-Georg Ziebertz.