Religious Experience, Development, and Diversity

Hoffman, Louis
December 2012
Pastoral Psychology;Dec2012, Vol. 61 Issue 5/6, p1025
Academic Journal
Religious experience is a complex construct susceptible to various forms of influence. As religious experience is a very broad construct, this paper focuses primarily on one type of religious experience: the god image, or the way an individual experiences god. This paper focuses on two important factors contributing to the richness of religious experiences: development and diversity. Research on the god image suggests that the way a person experiences god changes over time, including gradually becoming more complex. Although the research on the god image and diversity is highly limited thus far, there is consistent evidence that various forms of diversity significantly impact the way a person experiences god. Several theories have attempted to reconcile various influences on the god image into a comprehensive, unified theory. While these theories offer advancement in the way religious experience can be understood, it seems unlikely that any such theory will ultimately be successful, particularly given that important influences on one's religious experience appear to be highly influenced by culture.


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