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In: Journal of Empirical Theology

This article discusses the question of how religion in childhood and adolescence should be studied. More exactly, the focus is on problems of methodology and research which are discussed in relationship to religion in childhood and adolescence. It does not present a handbook type of overview, however, but is focused on problems and challenges for future research. Four questions are addressed specifically: How can empirical research do justice to the special nature of religion in childhood and adolescence? What are the implications of viewing religion within non-religious interpretive frameworks? What methodological problems do we have to face concerning religion in childhood and adolescence? What interdisciplinary challenges can be identified in this context? The final section relates these questions to the main topic of the present publication by stating a number or criteria, i.e., criteria related to the concept of religion to be used in research across different approaches and disciplines.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology

Abstract

Multireligious contexts are considered a routine challenge for growing children today, yet very little is known empirically about how children deal with religious differences. Studies by developmentalists like David Elkind, fifty years ago, have not been followed up and more recent research on young children and religion has tended to centre on other questions. The article that follows is based on a study of 140 children (mean age 4.9 years) interviewed in the context of kindergartens in Germany. After describing their research procedures, the authors present results regarding knowledge, experience, attitudes, and linguistic skills in the context of different religions. Throughout the article, special emphasis is laid on the issue of God, or different Gods, as perceived by the children. The authors conclude by suggesting a number of educational consequences.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology

Given the increasingly diverse and multi-religious character of contemporary societies in Europe and beyond, interreligious education has come to attract more and more interest. This is especially true for the field of religious education. This article comes from a research project that has two aspects as its focus. The first aspect refers to the question of whether approaches to interreligious education really are effective. The other aspect concerns what is called the meaning of interreligious abilities or competence for professional qualification. The process of training future caregivers includes both of these aspects. Moreover, the project entailed an attempt to test a number of religious-education teaching units empirically for their effects on the trainees. In this article, an attempt is made to shed light on the structure of interreligious competence. The main focus is on finding a general factor of interreligious competence at the heart of more specific facets of competence.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology
A new wave of religious energy is sweeping through the western nations. Although God is disappearing from religious discourse in western culture, both as a word and as a concept, there is a definite undercurrent of religious ardour, which is growing in strength. It focuses all the more attention on the issue: what or who is God in the modern era? This is the question examined through systematic studies, practical theology and empirical research, that are presented here through anthropologically relevant theology. Renowned international authors make it plain in this book: the question of God is exciting again!
This book is published in honour of Johannes A. van der Ven on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

Abstract

This article first discusses the question of how empirical research can contribute to the ongoing discussions concerning the future of the church. Among others, German research on church membership is used as a case study for gaining insights into the interplay between theoretical assumptions, empirical research and designing strategies for church development. The need for comparisons over time, for longitudinal studies and the identification of long-term predictors is discussed. Against this background, recent research on confirmation work in Germany and Europe is taken up as an example. The article draws on data from a European study on confirmation work with a longitudinal research approach. The results show that confirmation work, as one of the major educational programs of the Protestant Church, can influence adolescents’ views of Christian faith and the church. Predictors for future commitment to the church in terms of believing, belonging and volunteerism are not only dependent on religious socialization in childhood but also on experiences and activities during confirmation time in adolescence.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology