The Different Approaches to Religion


Studying religion can help you increase your level of happiness and contentment in your life while opening you up to new spiritual ideas and experiences. It can also give you a greater understanding of the world around you and how people of different cultures understand it.

There are many types of religious practices and beliefs, including organized faiths such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism. They can involve cultural beliefs, texts, prophecies, revelations, morals, and a wide range of rituals such as prayer, meditation, worship, holy places, symbols, trances, and feasts.

The concept of religion has been studied in a variety of ways, from the 19th century’s rationalism to the 20th-century humanistic anthropology. These approaches have emphasized the formative influence of religion in human history and tried to explain how a specific system of beliefs developed and functioned.

Functional Approach to Religion

In the first half of the 20th century, social psychologist Emile Durkheim and anthropologist Paul Tillich developed functional definitions of religion that turn on social functions of creating solidarity and axiological functions of providing orientation for people’s lives. These approaches allow for a large diversity of religious beliefs without limiting the scope of what is considered “religious.”

Monothetic Approach to Religion

In most of the studies of religion that have been done so far, scholars have operated with the classical view that every instance that accurately describes a concept will share a defining property that puts them in that category. Increasingly, however, we have seen the emergence of polythetic approaches that abandon the classical view and treat religion as having a prototype structure.