ABSTRACT: Based primarily on interviews with the current co-leaders of The Family International, its World Services administrative staff, and supplemented with observational visits to Family Homes worldwide, this paper addresses the basic question in Rodney Stark's theory of revelations: How do revelations occur? Contrary to both Stark's and Max Weber's theoretical propositions regarding the curtailment of revelation in prophetic religions that become institutionalized after the departure of charismatic founders, current Family leaders have greatly increased their reliance on verbatim revelations through multiple channels to guide and justify the group's controversial beliefs and practices. We contrast the conventional single mode of obtaining occasional revelations (or "prophecies") by Family founder, David Berg, with the novel way in which a constant stream of official, published Family prophecies are now socially constructed. Throughout our description of this process we focus on its consequences for routinization of charisma via greater member participation, democratic decision-making, and internal consensusbuilding. At the same time this process contributes to the maintenance of external, sectarian barriers.
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Research Article| November 01 2006
The Social Construction of Prophecy in The Family International
Nova Religio (2006) 10 (2): 29–56.
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Gordon Shepherd, Gary Shepherd; The Social Construction of Prophecy in The Family International. Nova Religio 1 November 2006; 10 (2): 29–56. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2006.10.2.29
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