“Not another one!” That seems to be the frustrating response of religious researchers as they discover new manifestations of religion among groups that are continually emerging today. America has become a smorgasbord of incredible diversity. Only 25 years ago a count of 500 religious groups might have been considered high. Today, a total of 5,000 might be conservative. Some of these are very small, with as few as a dozen members; some are very large, having followings of several million.
Why is there such a proliferation of religious expressions? In the early 1950s, America seemingly was beginning to realize the effects of a revolution in the way it viewed the world. Naturalism, as the dominant paradigm for perceiving and explaining reality, had been eroding for several decades. While going a long way towards meeting man’s needs in a variety of areas, it had done so on a purely material, technological level. Once these goals were attained, man, who was dissatisfied with materialistic lifestyles and the answers of an optimistic humanism, was left with an uncertainty as to the deeper meaning of life. According to Theodore Roszak, the religious counterrevolution took place among young people disgusted by the failure of scientific technology (The Making of a Counter-Culture, Doubleday, 1969).
Naturalism, with its accompanying doctrine of rationalism, was structurally incapable of providing all man sought for and needed. Though naturalism continues to be a major paradigm, new world views have been sought to allow for different and greater explanations of reality.
God As Ultimate Reality
One new world view, which replaced the matter of naturalism with God as the ultimate substance, not only radically altered the perception of the ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more