Religious Homophily and Biblicism: A Theory of Conservative Church Fragmentation

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 sociopsychological 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.

The Significance of Communal Religious Freedom for Liberal Democracy

Leading US scholar of constitutional interpretation Michael Paulsen has developed an interesting theory of religious freedom called “The Priority of God.” Paulsen distinguishes, first of all, a liberal conception of religious freedom, according to which it is widely assumed that religious truth exists in a society and the state is tolerant towards various faiths and other traditions. The US, however, has developed in the direction of a modern conception of religious freedom, which no longer recognises religious truth although the state remains tolerant. Moreover, still according to Paulsen, several European countries have adopted a postmodern conception of religious freedom. This conception does not only no longer recognise religious truth, but also implies a considerably less tolerant state, as secularism becomes the established “religion.” This view paradoxically resembles the preliberal stance of religious intolerance out of the conviction that religious truth exists. In response to such developments, the current article makes a case for the classical liberal position with respect to religious freedom. A liberal religious freedom conception forms the best guarantee that societal institutions will be able to fulfil their constitutional functions of a check on the government and as “seedbeds of virtue.”

The Image of God among Children of Overseas Filipino Worker Parents: Opportunities for Theology of Migration

If parents are not living with their children because of migration, especially in the Asian context, will their children’s image of God be affected? This article aims to highlight the image of God with the stories of four children of Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) parents who have not lived with them since childhood. The article employed the see-judge-act method to understand the experiences of the key informants through personal interviews. Their stories show the struggles and difficulties of these children who live away from their parents, and yet they are able to develop their own image of God. Though these children are highly affected by migration, their experiences are rich potential sources for theological reflection on how they make meaning of their situation. Findings of the article present potential opportunities to develop a theology of migration and further discussions on the implications of Christianity in Asia.