01: Refleks is a scholarly journal seeking to build bridges between the Pentecostal-charismatic renewal movements and the outside world. The semi-annual journal is based in Norway but covers Pentecostalism and neo-Pentecostalism– including their predecessors, i.e., the Holiness Movement and similar traditions—from around the world.
The journal consists of scholarly articles, brief biographical portraits and book reviews in Scandinavian languages and/or in English. Past issues have covered deliverance ministries, the Toronto Blessing revival and the Word of Faith movement.
The target audience for both the book series and the journal are researchers, university students, journalists and the religious community.
For more information write: Refleks Publishing, Ravnkroken 60G, N-1254 Oslo, Norway or visit the website: http://www.refleks-publishing.com.
02: The new book Religion is Not About God (Rutgers University Press, $28.95) by Loyal Rue, espouses the thesis that religious belief and practice is largely about evolutionary survival and adaptation and has little to do with supernatural beliefs. Given the current interest in the “God gene” and the biological nature of religious belief and experience, the book may be among the first of many works on the subject. Rue, taking his cues from evolutionary biology and neuroscience, argues that the brain responds to the mythic and symbolic systems of religion and uses them to create wholeness and social coherence for the believer. He goes further and tries to mine the “strategies” that the various world religions use to generate such values.
For instance, in Judaism, the strategies of purity rituals, following the law, social justice, and synagogue involvement provide “prosocial self-esteem links” that contribute to the survival of the species. Although Rue is conversant in sociobiology, he rarely engages sociological or anthropological research which suggests that beliefs about God and the supernatural are an essential part of religion.
03: The Children of God ($13.95) is the most recent volume in Signature Books’ series on the Studies in Contemporary Religion. Written by J. Gordon Melton, the 100-page work provides a brief historical sketch of the group, now known as “The Family,” from its roots in the Jesus movement of the 1960s to its many legal troubles and controversies in the 1980s and 90s, usually involving its sexual practices (such as flirty fishing, which used sex as a recruitment tool, and permissive sexual relations among youth and adults).
Melton discounts the charges of widespread sexual abuse by the Family, and argues that their sexual practices have been modified if not rescinded (they still practice open marriage and have developed a new teaching that views Christ as a sexual lover). Melton also finds that the Family’s North American and European presence has fallen drastically since it has expanded into the Third World in the late 1990s.