Religious Homophily and Biblicism:
A Theory of Conservative Church Fragmentation
by Darren M. Slade
In his book, The Bible Made Impossible, Christian Smith proposes the hypothesis that religious homophily, a well-known psychological phenomenon, and biblicism may be the cause of church splits.
Our Research, Darren Slade, has just published a new article in the International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society that explores whether this hypothesis is a viable explanation for why certain conservative churches fragment.
From the article’s abstract:
“According to the most recent demographic datasets, the number of new Christian congregations throughout the world is outpacing the total number of new Christians, suggesting that institutional Christianity has become more proficient at internal division than it has at outward multiplication. Using the psychological phenomenon known as “homophily,” the purpose of this article is to provide a brief elaboration on the socio-psychological reasoning for why conflicts over biblical interpretation may be one of the dominant causes, among other factors, for conservative church splits and for why ‘biblicism’ may cause fragmentation among evangelicals more than their liberal Protestant counterparts. The article will first define and characterize theological conservatism, homophily, and biblicism before discussing the possible correlation between conflicts over biblical interpretation and church fragmentation. The article proposes that theological disagreements over exclusivist scriptural interpretations is a viable explanation for the destabilization of conservative congregations. Church splits among evangelicals are explainable partly because of the conservative tendency toward religious homophily and the need to establish rival congregations built around competing biblical interpretations.”
Check out a preview of the article by clicking here.
If you would like a copy of the article, feel free to contact the Research Director here.
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