Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Institutionalisation of Religion

Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople was a ma...
Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople was a major Greek lexicographer and literary critic, and did much to preserve, and copy classical manuscripts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Historically the institutionalisation of religion has been an attempt by a group that were central or influential to exert control and try to enforce the elements of right-practice or right-belief that they deemed most important.  If a set of teachings and behaviour is successfully institutionalised, as Beattie describes (2006, p.73) by being formalised into a uniform expression through teaching, worship, ritual and myth and by means of physical institutions, places of worship and organised priesthoods who pass on the agreed teaching to the next generation, then an existing pattern of religious insight  continues as an organised religion. Often though, by providing a defining line for one particular institution, other branches were not brought into line.  Instead they were empowered by being able to define themselves in the light of institutionalisation and to draw boundary lines in practice and belief of their own.  The separation of the Monophysite and Nestorian churches from the Byzantine church after the filioque controversy may be seen in this way.

Beattie, H., (2006) Sikhism Study Guide, Milton Keynes, The Open University.

*I'm rather over my word count for this month's essay, so have a quick cut-and-paste while I rejig my conclusion.
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