Skip to main content

The constructive use of ‘vernacular religion’

  • W. Graham Monteith (a1)

The study of vernacular religion is often confined to the discussion of ‘folk religion’ in a rather derogatory and sterile manner. An attempt is made to correct this by describing seven ideal-typical ways in which vernacular religion can be studied and defined. The seven types or discussions are: 1) whether vernacular religion represents elitist or popular religious practices and the nature of New Religious Movements; 2) the study of cults and New Religious Movements; 3) vernacular religion as folklore; 4) Bellah's concept of ‘civil religion’ and its application to modern British culture particularly as it relates to public expressions of mourning; 5) ecclesiastical historians' use of the concept in historical studies; 6) Küng's use of paradigm as formulated by Kuhn, discussed in the context of two examples of modern usage of the term in vernacular religion; and 7) vernacular religion and modern hermeneutics as preachers attempt to relate local practices to their congregations. In order to use any combinations of these constructions in a positive manner, it is suggested that we develop a diagnostic technique which recognises that people have an inherent desire to discover ways of relating everyday experience to their religious expression. Such a method is developed using both Murphy and Tracy to show how attention may be paid to vernacular religion without succumbing to the trap of relativism.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Scottish Journal of Theology
  • ISSN: 0036-9306
  • EISSN: 1475-3065
  • URL: /core/journals/scottish-journal-of-theology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 19 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 124 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 16th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.