GEO3150 Cultural Geography of New Religious Movements
Educational Level: Upper undergraduate, Bachelor
Credit Hours: 3 Credits
Geographic exploration and comparative analysis of the global and national distribution, diffusion, and cultural (material and non-material) norms associated with New Religious Movements. Students will engage through assigned readings, online discussions, and collaborative work that will help develop a better understanding for missional outreach around the world.
How This Course Benefits Students:
A search online for the need and wish for more insight for cultural understanding among missionaries prior to their missional work is widespread. One good example of this can be seen in the online article entitled Communicating Christ Cross-culturally to other Religions: A Mission Perspective on Sharing the Gospel which explains the need to learn about cultures around the world as missionaries attempt to reach people for Christ. Among the many comments for existence and understanding culture in this online article include the following: Man is a wondrous and complex being. For wherever we find manin widely different cultures geographically dispersed and at all points from the dimmest moments of recorded history to the presentwe also find religion. – from Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology: Unabridged, one-volume edition, reprinted (Manila, Philippines: Christian Growth Ministry, 1997), p. 17. Cultural blindness creates unnecessary barriers that hinder the proclamation of the Gospel and the expansion of Gods Kingdom. The missionary cannot communicate Christianity without concerning himself with culture because, though Christianity is supracultural [transcends cultural bonds] in its origin and truth, it is cultural in its application. In evangelism cultural distance is always more important than geographical distance. from Teague, Dennis, Culture: The Missing Link in Mission. (Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature Inc., 1996), pp.111-113. Scholars have written about the need for understanding cultures (defined generally as aspects of material, non-material and folk cultures) in the past. Traditionally, studies have examined the religious impact on culture and environment, and sample of structures from all religions in the landscape has often been studied. The Geography of Religions and Belief Systems specialty group of the Association of American Geographers aims to further the geographic study of religious phenomena, including but not limited to religious groups, behavior, material culture, and human-environment relations from a religious perspective. (http://www.aag.org/cs/membership/specialty_groups) accessed Sept.5, 2016.
Why This Course Is Important:
The course focuses on a comparative analysis of the cultural components of new religious movements at an international and national level. The course is important for any Christian who is reaching out to non-Christians around the world. Basic understanding of distribution, diffusion, and cultural norms at various scales are needed to understand members of another religion that will prepare for better missional outreach. Colleges and universities do not offer courses on specific religions within geography, but there are generic courses on the geography of world religions. The need for geographic insight and cultural understanding at a more specific level makes the cultural geography of any particular religion course at Missional University distinct and unique. No other known course exists that provides content like this.