Cover image for New religions : a guide : new religious movements, sects and alternative spiritualities
New religions : a guide : new religious movements, sects and alternative spiritualities
Partridge, Christopher H. (Christopher Hugh), 1961-
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
446 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 23 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Great Britain : Lion Pub., 2004.
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BP603 .N492 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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From Christian Science and the Jehovah's Witnesses to Soka Gakkai, Wicca, and Falun Gong, the last century and a half has seen an unprecedented growth of new religious movements, sects, and alternative spiritualities. New Religions offers an authoritative and lavishly illustrated guide to more than two hundred of these wildly varied groups and movements. The volume is organized according to an entirely new method of classification, which associates movements, sects, and spiritualities with the religioustraditions from which they arose. Rastafarianism, for example, is shown to have its roots in Christianity, while Bahai is an offshoot of Islam. Included are both long-established groups like the Seventh-Day Adventists and the Hutterites and more recent movements like Santeria, the UnificationChurch, and ISKCON (the "Hare Krishnas"). In addition to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Indian Religions, and the Religions of East Asia, sections are devoted to movements and groups inspired by Indigenous and Pagan Traditions, and by Western Esoteric and New Age Traditions.Particularly fascinating is the discussion of the religious offspring of Modern Western Culture, including Scientology, UFO-based groups (such as the Raelians), and even the worship of celebrities like Elvis and Princess Diana. Each entry clearly and concisely explains the history, beliefs andpractices, and status in the world today of the movement or group in question. Special entries highlight broad topics such as New Religions in China as well as intriguing subjects such as Cargo Cults, Martial Arts, Astrology, and Feng Shui. Written by specialists, New Religions is a fascinating and colorful guide to the bewildering array of religious and spiritual options available to the modern seeker.

Author Notes

Christopher Partridge is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Contemporary Religion at Chester College, England. His research and writing focus on new religions and alternative spiritualities in the West. He has published research in the areas of both contemporary Christian theology and Westernalternative spiritualities.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Partridge, Senior Lecturer in theology and contemporary religion at Chester College, England, has compiled an encyclopedic work covering more than 200 religious movements. He defines a "new religion" as "a religion, sect or alternative spirituality that emerged or rose to prominence during the 20th century," which allows the inclusion of groups like Freemasonry and the Baha'i Faith, with roots in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sixty-three scholars, each with impressive academic credentials, contribute to the book, which organizes groups by the major religious tradition in which the movement is founded. Included are studies of Christian groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Science, Muslim groups such as the Nation of Islam and the Sufi Community and various controversial bodies Heaven's Gate, the Branch Davidians and others. Partridge deliberately selected contributors whose work centers in religion and philosophy but who have no personal connection to the group under consideration. Treatment of each movement is characterized by both brevity and fairness. The various writers provide brief historical and doctrinal sketches, avoiding value judgments and criticism. Larger articles called "features" treat broader themes (e.g. "Celtic Christian Spirituality" or "Chinese New Religions"), providing helpful background for the shorter entries and helping the reader to understand each sect within a larger historical context. Dozens of illustrations, many of them in color, and a thorough index add to the book's usability. Intended for a general audience, this volume is a welcome addition to the available literature. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this illustrated guide, over 60 well-qualified authors review religious movements, sects, and alternative spiritualities that have been founded in the past century and a half. Editor Partridge (theology & contemporary religion, Chester Coll.) has organized the book around a family taxonomy of new spiritual groups devised by J. Gordon Melton and Robert Moore. Each family begins with a survey article of the parent religious tradition and is followed by the new religious movements that derive from it. New religions, Partridge argues somewhat problematically, are synonymous with cults, a sociological term that has become pejorative, and are considered deviant and individualistic. Alternative spiritualities are movements that may not be religious in the normal sense and focus more on the interior personal experience than external authority. Sects are breakaway groups that emphasize individual commitment to the sect's doctrines and morality, focused self-identity, and clear purity-pollution boundaries. Some groups, e.g., the Baha'i faith, are included but do not quite fit the definitions provided, a problem noted by Robert S. Ellwood Jr. in Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America. Nevertheless, New Religions works effectively as a supplement to Ellwood's work and to Melton's comprehensive Encyclopedia of American Religions, mapping out its ideas clearly and accessibly. Highly recommended for all types of libraries.-William P. Collins, Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

From Heaven's Gate to the Branch Davidians, from the Kabbalah to the Knights Templar, sects and alternative religions have long inhabited fascinating but obscure regions of spirituality. Partridge (Univ. College Chester, UK) and his team of contributors define new and alternative spiritualities in terms all levels of readers will understand. Those familiar with James Lewis's The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions (CH, Sep'02) will find this work equal in quality. Entries are informative, well-written, and arranged under the mainstream religion from which each arose. This approach adds insight into the relations between mainstream and alternative religious groups. Thorough coverage treats groups from a broad range of backgrounds, those based in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to those originating in East Asia, India, and modern Western culture. Indigenous, pagan, and New Age traditions are also covered. Numerous color photographs enhance the work's appeal and help give a face to the seemingly unknown. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; undergraduates. L. Minnick Eastern Kentucky University