Konkokyo (Golden Light Teachings) and Modernity
A Test of the Faivre-Hanegraaff Six-Point Typology of Western Esotericism
Keywords:New Religious Movement
Scholarly interest in Japanese new religions (shin shukyo) or newly arising religions (shinko shukyo) appears to have peaked in the 1960s when a number of book-length studies appeared. In the early twenty-first century, such movements have been marginal within the academic study of religion. This may be due to three stereotypes that were promoted in the 1960s as to the nature and function of Japanese new and ‘new new’ religions (shin shin shukyo) which are still influential. Earhart has trenchantly criticised the reductionist tendency to characterise these movements as ‘crisis cults’ and the false logic that when social upheaval is followed by formation of new religions that there is a causal relationship between the two. The similarly reductionist claim that the universalising tendencies of the kami venerated by Japanese new religions are the result of Christian influences has also been challenged. The third stereotype, that the new religions were founded by charlatans, attract the gullible, and lack religious authenticity has not been as effectively refuted, though some recent research has offered a more positive assessment (Pfeiffer 2000; Pye 1994).
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