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New Religious Movements: The Current Landscape (September 2013): Conclusion

By Stephen Bales


In contrast to religion’s oft-predicted demise, the recent appearance of many new religious movements illustrates the robust nature of human spiritual pursuit.  Radical theologian Don Cupitt wrote of humankind’s “religious requirement”: an “autonomous inner imperative that urges us to fulfill our highest possible destiny as spiritual, self-conscious beings emerging from nature.”[1]  The recent wave of NRMs reveals the dialectical nature of this imperative and its seemingly endless potential for new modes of expression.  Fortunately, modernity has reaffirmed humankind’s impulse toward sober investigation and the pursuit of knowledge, the literary geography of which this article has sought to map.  This terrain shifts as the religious imperative constantly unfolds.  Investigators, therefore, must stay vigilant to change, while remaining flexible, intellectually honest, and prepared to offer critique.

[1] Don Cupitt, Taking Leave of God (London: SCM Press, 1980): 96.