Department of Theories of Religion and Alternative Religious Movements


The Department examines a phenomenon which is usually called “sects” or “new religious movements”. Yet the both names are not axiologically neutral. The term “sect” has got strong negative connotations and the term “new religious movement” makes those societies more appreciated, because — at least in our culture — the novelty is usually treated as a virtue.

Since the using of such evaluative term makes an objective presentation of the phenomenon difficult we use the term “alternative religious movement”. It is not only axiologically neutral but it also points that the essence of such movements consists in using of ideas present in European thought (and in many cases also in cultures of India and the Far East) in order to create such a religious doctrine which can be an alternative for Christianity — which has dominated in Europe for two millennia.

We appreciate the humanities’ contribution (especially of psychology and sociology) to the research of the phenomenon of alternative religious movements. We also understand the theologians’ care of the best and free from mistakes recognition and handing down of Divine Revelation to people who search for God. Yet the methods used by these scholars do not give full picture of the phenomenon in question. One-sided character of current methods is a reason of different interpretation of the phenomenon of alternative religious movements and is a source of many controversies. Thus we think the reflection on the phenomenon should be completed by philosophical examinations.

Philosophy is useful to search for the methodological, anthropological and metaphysical pressupositions and implications of doctrines of alternative religious movements. So it allows to reconstrue conceptions of the world, God (or Absolute) and man contained in these doctines. Philosophy is also a good background for discussions of truth-value of alternative religious movements.