Grouping Religion

This week in class we talked a lot about different types of religious organizations. First we talked about this in terms of Christian polities. Episcopal polity means the church or churches are led by bishops. (Lecture) Presbyterian polity means the churches are led by older members, particularly men. (Lecture) Congregational polity means the churches are led by the congregation. (Lecture) Finally, Charismatic polity is where a group of people are brought together by a particular person who leads them. (Lecture) These types of organizations are specific to Christianity. (Lecture) Judaism, Islam, and other major religions are arranged differently. (Lecture) Another way we looked at types of Christian organizations was based on our reading of McGuire’s book. In this case, four types of religious orientation were presented. (McGuire, Pg. 156-158) Churchly orientation means that the Christian group feels a responsibility to help society, but they believe their beliefs and ways are the only way. (McGuire, Pg. 156-158) Denominational orientation means that the group feels responsibility to society and they believe other religions have value and legitimacy. (McGuire, Pg. 156-158) Their way isn’t the only way. Sectarian orientation means the group is in tension with society and they believe their way is the only way. (McGuire, Pg. 156-158) These group are often outsiders in society and often just stick to themselves. (McGuire, Pg. 156-158) Finally, Cultic orientation means the group is in tension with society, but they are accepting of other religions and believe they have value. (McGuire, Pg. 156-158) These groups will just sometimes stick to themselves too. (McGuire, Pg. 156-158) In the end, these are all valid ways of separating Christian denominations into different types of groups. One is not better than the other; although some may have more negative reputations. These systems just help make identifying and studying these groups easier to do.