Practical Science of Religion: Theoretical and methodological considerations
Udo Tworuschka

Introductory Remarks
The term and concept of Practical Science of Religion) is relatively new. Some speak of „applied“ or „committed Religionswissenschaft“
[1]. In 1959 the Jewish scholar R.J. Werblowsky (b. 1924) used the term „applied religious studies“ – but flatly rejected the object signified thereby: „As far as I can tell, there is neither a reason nor a justification for an applied science of religion.“[2]. Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900), founding father of Science of Religion expressed the traditional view: „In practical life it would be wrong to assume a neutral position between conflicting views examined (...) we must take sides. But as students of the Science of Religion, we move in a higher and more serene atmosphere. We study error, as the physiologist studies a disease, looking for its causes, tracing its influence, speculating on possible remedies (...) but leaving the application of such remedies to a different class of men, to the surgeon and the practical physician”[3]. In 1965 the church historian Ernst Benz from Marburg touched a sensitive issue: „This restraint of the Science of Religion to contribute to the solution of current religious issues is, in some cases so stressed that one has the impression that some scholars would have preferred there were only dead, that is, extinct religions, as they would be more suitable for a purely phenomenological observation and critical analysis and comparison as the living religions”.[4]


Pure and Applied Science
Pure and Applied Scienceis a distinction from the science of Enlightenment and goes back to the Swedish chemist Johan Gottschalk Wallerius (1751). Chemistry demonstrated what it meant to apply scientific knowledge for industrial uses. By the middle of the 19th Century this division prevailed in the philosophy of science: Chemia pura – Chemia applicata, pure – applied logic (1806), etc. Interestingly this distinction cannot be found in Dr. Samuel Johnson's „A Dictionary of the English Language”(1755). But as early as 1750 Dr. Johnson mentioned in the weekly paper The Rambler „the difference between pure science, which has to do only with ideas, and the application of its laws to the use of life”(italics UT) .
Pure science is characterized by its exclusive interest in knowledge, whereas applied sciences are interested in developing rules, models and procedures for a „science-based practice“ with the help of insights from pure science. Today's Science of Religion has positioned itself in a sharp alternative to the paradigm of the Science of Religion up to the 1970s. That era is commonly reduced by its critics to pure phenomenology of religion although this does not sufficiently characterize the lifetime work and accomplishments of well-known German scholars such as Friedrich Heiler and Gustav Mensching or Italian authorities such as Raffaele Pettazzoni. Science of Religion today is defined by many of its followers as a cultural-scientific discipline, that is no longer interested in the question whether there is a transcendent truth (e.g., in the sense of Rudolf Otto's „holy“) or not. This development has radical tendencies which have led to a landslide-like traditional demolition.


On the problem of „application“
The French philosopher Jacques Derrida (21930-2004) problematized the concept of application. Subsequent to the „Applied Derrida“- Symposium (1995) he delivered an interview that may help to clarify the term `application`. „If somebody comes to a conference with the title 'Applied You', then you can imagine that you experience the situation in which it is, as if you were dead. Finally.”
[5] Applying has to do with turning, shifting. It is nothing rigidly, inflexibly applicative that processing top down or bottom up. The term is derived from the French pli (application, explication etc.) meaning the „fold“, the space between.
The implicit dualism of pure basic research and „applied research“ in the concept of application is questioned by the deconstruktivist understanding of use. Neither there is a secure basis from which top down or bottom up models can be derived, nor do neighbouring disciplines offer firm ground. With reference to the concept of “Denkkollektiv” (thought collectives) developed in the 1930s one can explain how scientific ideas change over time, similar to Thomas Kuhn`s later idea of paradigm shift. Science is not rational or logical and facts are only that what is accepted by a particular community as a truth. This community is defined by a common mental style which leads to the fact that all researchers see the same. This perception is indoctrinated to every new beginner of a science. Hence, it is easy for younger (German) scientists of Religion generally to differentiate between putatively right and wrong Science of Religion (including its respective scientific luminaries or gravediggers). In Practical Theology and Religious Education the concept of application has a negative connotation, because these disciplines have their own ways and methods of researching and their own fields of interest.




Practical Science of Religionswissenschaft
Many sciences and humanities have an `applied` dimension. There exist applied cultural science(s), sports science, linguistics, politics, children's media research, mathematics, dramatics, geosciences, climatology etc. An Applied or Practical Religionswissenschaft, as I prefer to say, finds it difficult to establish itself and be recognized at German universities.
The term Practical Science of Religion refers to a model of unbounded, inter- and transdisciplinary science of religion, that encourages and promotes critical, communicative, social-political action-orienting Science of Religion. It directs the researcher’s attention to the perception of religious individuals and their specific modes of perception as well as on the perception of variously lived religion/s in the „lifeworld” („Lebenswelt“, Alfred Schütz). It deals with living religious people or groups of people apprehending their experiences / perception. Communication with and between people of different origins, understanding horizons and linguistic plays („Sprachspiele“) become the basic mode of Practical Science of Religion. This discipline has an inductive approach and uses empirical methods. Practical Science of Religion refers to other human sciences and covers the whole width of psychological, sociological, epistemologically substantiated attempts (headwords: Ethnomethodology, phenomenological sociology etc.). Practical Science of Religion does not only perceive, describe and analyse actions. It also deals with „mediation processes“ by different media. Analyzing present, problematic realities the Practical Science of Religion wants to facilitate „better“ realities in the future by reflected problem-solving action (normative component). The interests of this new and discipline of the Science of Religion are  among other things pacifying, restraining conflicts, humanizing. Practical Science of Religion is not only a top down “applied” Religionswissenschaft transferring pretended unquestionable knowledge from the area of  a allegedly„high and more serene atmosphere“ (Friedrich Max Müller) to the bottom of the everyday world of today and its problems. Practical Science of Religion envisions itself as a combination of several different fields of study (Science of Religion, social sciences, psychology, phenomenology, linguistics and cultural studies, Applied Ethics, Practical Theology etc.). An interdisciplinary or trans-disciplinal Practical Science of Religion is interested in developing rules, models, organizational tasks for action. Practical Science of Religion is no bare appendix of the supposedly pure Science of Religion. It is a discipline with an own identity, typical theoretical options, questions, methodical procedures, and a viable i.e., is helpful, useful epistemic interest as well as an own subject area. In contrast to traditional epistemic interest still asking questions about objective reality, the constructivist philosophy deals with the cognitive process and its outcomes and impacts. Practical Science of Religion generates practically useful, usable knowledge. According to radical constructivist view: „knowledge is viable, if it makes our orientation in our daily lives easier, justifies our actions, makes our survival possible (...), if it fits to my environment and help to achieve my goals. The question is irrelevant whether this knowledge is objectively true. The problematic difference true vs. not true „is replaced by the opposition useful vs. not useful”. Such a bias of Practical Science of Religion does not mean at all that the scholar should throw the old scientific principles overboard. „Objectivity“ as a regulative scientific principle is still worth striving for!




Mentors of Practical Science of Religion


Looking for mentors of Practical Science of Religion in the 20th century one encounters three eminent scholars: Gustav Mensching (1901-78), Mircea Eliade, Wilfred Cantwell Smith. They are among the most well-known, but probably they are not the only ones in this yet to be written discipline history.
Gustav Mensching and Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) – both are criticized according to today's ruling opinion as „phenomenologists of religion”, hence outdated gravediggers of Science of Religion – published beyond the narrow circle of professional representatives. They had the courage to deliberately address their works to a general audience. Both had a message and wished to change their recipients existentially by means of their religious-scientific work.  This is a really genuine practical train of their work. Mensching plead for tolerance since 1920s. In theologically undialogical time he called for an understanding of other religions and argued that principally in all religions the „encounter with the Holy” is possible.


Eliade wanted to „rouse“ his readers, lead them to a „spiritual shock“, open and change thereby the understanding horizons of his recipients. Eliade pleads for a religious dialogue free from cultural provincialism, cultivating the basis for the understanding of these foreign worlds.




Gustav Mensching`s approach


Probably one of the first scholars taking notice of Mensching`s (1901-1978) practical perspective of Comparative Religion was Mensching`s disciple and successor at the Bonn Institute for Comparative Religion, Hans-Joachim Klimkeit (1939-1999). In his miscellany for Mensching`s 70th Birthday, he writes: „Other books like `Tolerance and Truth in religion` (1955) and `Der Irrtum in der Religion` (1969) take up issues touched upon in earlier works, applying the insights gained there to the problems addressed here. They represent, so to speak, works of applied comparative religion.”[6]
In Mensching`s ethical study “Gut und Böse im Glauben der Völker” („Good and Evil in the Faith of the Peoples“, 1941) Mensching draws the line at „ethics as a normative science“:
We have no practical purpose.” Yet in the second edition (1950) Mensching remarks: „There can be no doubt that in our world which is falling apart, the postulate of the world's conscience should raise claim against all inhumanity in our days. The religions are the assigned guardians of the universal conscience. That such a world conscience can be possible is based on the fact that the religions of the world are in complete agreement in many central questions of ethical behavior and attitude. Our study makes the case for this.”[7] 20 years later Mensching formulated in the „Sheets to vocational studies: Religionswissenschaft”:„In light of the changed world situation, it (i.e. Comparative Religion) can and should serve practical purposes”


Mensching emphasized that the Science of Religion has the challenge to understand religion/s, but it should not make any judgments. On the other hand Mensching was highly committed to religious tolerance. In the 20th century Mensching was a major pioneer of religious tolerance. His scholarly work Tolerance and Truth in Religion”[8] was translated in many languages (including Japanese and Persian) and can be read in today’s view as an exemplum of Practical Religionswissenschaft. Its intention is to actively participate in the pacification of the (religious) world, and encourage mutual tolerance between religions. Mensching lays claim to the „postulate of tolerance“– as a problem “that requires a solution by religious mankind”[9]. „In this book we shall discuss the problem of tolerance and intolerance in their manifold aspects on the basis of a comprehensive comparative study of religions. Needless to say, our study will be carried on academically as objective as possible. However, I think the problem of tolerance is not only an interesting academic question but also a matter of human concern affecting man`s life most profoundly today. (…) For the sake of the problem at stake we should like this study on tolerance to be accessible to those who have not received academic training in the field.”[10]
Mensching`s monograph „Der Irrtum in der Religion” (The error in religion, 1969) is written in a religiously and ecclesiastically critical spirit. The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) wrote in his last speech, „Scholarship with commitment” (2001): „
There is in the mind of most educated people, especially in social science, a dichotomy which seems to me entirely baneful: the dichotomy between scholarship and commitment [both in English, NC] – between those who devote themselves to scientific work, performed according to scholarly methods and aimed at other scholars, and those who are engaged and who take their scholarship to the outside world. The opposition is artificial and, in fact, you have to be an independent scholar, who works in accordance with the rules of scholarship to be able to produce an engaged scholarship that is a ‘scholarship with commitment’.


To be a truly engaged scholar, you must be legitimately engaged, engaged in knowledge. And this knowledge is not acquired except by the work of scholarship, undertaken according to the rules of the scholarly community. Put another way, we have to get over a number of obstacles that are in our heads and that have a way of authorising us to give up: starting with the scholar who locks himself up in his ivory tower. The dichotomy between scholarship and commitment confirms the researcher in his good conscience, because he receives the approval of the scientific community. It’s as if scholars believed themselves to be scholars twice over because they make nothing of their science. But in the case of biologists, that may be criminal. It’s equally serious in the case of criminologists. This reserve, this flight into purity, has very serious social consequences. Should people like me, paid by the State to do research, guard the resources of their research zealously for their colleagues? It is absolutely fundamental to submit what one believes is a discovery first to the criticism of one’s colleagues, but why reserve to them the collective achievement and control of knowledge?”[11]


One can read the ten chapters of Mensching`s book as Decalogue of the almost ineradicable tendency to (religious) dumbing down of men. According to Mensching it is the task of Comparative Religion among others to critically inform the believers about their respective religious traditions, in order to make them more self-reflexive. Naive certainties are to be shattered; myths and legends are to be destructed in order to foster a modern and up to date understanding of religions. I read Mensching`s text from 1969 through the eyes of Practical Religionswissenschaft, which can make its contribution in a world, characterized by many religion-based conflicts. In his introduction of this book Mensching emphasizes on the one hand that „decisions of faith and belief, of truth or error cannot be the subject of Comparative Religion knowing its boundaries[12]. Yet on the other side he focuses the interests of Comparative Religion towards problematic consequences of religiously motivated activities.




Mircea Eliade`s approach
Mircea Eliade`s (1907-1986) program of a „new humanism“, „creative“ or „total hermeneutics“ shows practical approaches to Religionswissenschaft of a different kind. With a great sense of mission Eliade assignes a key role to the historian of religion in understanding our present intellectual situation. Eliades bold and daring programme of „total hermeneutics“ consists „in deciphering and explaining every kind of the meeting of a person with the holy [a so-called „hierophany“] from prehistoric times up to the present“.  Eliade is inspired by the vision of transforming non-European, especially Indian, archaic etc. material into „spiritual messages“ for today. „Creative hermeneutics“ has the task to promote a „new global humanism“. Because of its „educational dimension“ Eliade considers the history of religion as capable of changing the researcher and his audiences, creating thus new cultural values.


Wilfred Cantwell Smith’s approach
For Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1916-2000) the aim of Religionswissenschaft is avowedly lies in dialogue: „The traditional attitude of Western scholarship in the study of other men’s religion was that of an impersonal presentation of an `it`. The first great innovation in recent times has been the personalization of the faiths observed, so that one finds a discussion of a `they`. Presently the observer becomes personally involved, so that the situation is one of a `we` talking about a `they`. The next step is dialogue where `we` talk to `you`. If there is listening and mutuality, this may become yet that `we` talk `with you`. The culmination of this progress is when „we all are talking`
with each other  about `us`”.[13]  Religionswissenschaft can play an eminent educational role in dialogue and thus has a practical task: to educate students who can perform the role of intermediaries and interpreters between two religious traditions. Rather, even this is true of the religious studies institutions as such.





Practical aims of Practical Religionswissenschaft
In the face of dramatic social and political upheavals around the world Practical Science of Religion today finds itself situated in changed or even new contexts. Practical Religionswissenschaft has become part of communication and reflection processes. It makes an effort in reacting against pressing problems induced by religions with the means of Practical Science of Religion. It participates in solving these problems, communicates its thoughts to the people working in these practical fields. During the last years the social sciences have been evaluating religion and spirituality anew and more positively. The religions
are no more evanescent marginal systems for the social and political analysis of reality. Nowadays some social analysts calculate much stronger on the factor religion/s whenever complex, local or global assessment of the situation and practical strategies should be planned for sustainable development processes. This shift of paradigm has been emerging in many different research areas: social policy, mediation, political science, conflict studies, family planning, bioethics, migration, management, international relations, religion, law, economics and business ethics, cross-cultural ethics, to mention just a few areas of research. The profile as regards content of Practical Religionswissenschaft lies in its focus on individual, social, societal problems. As far as the upcoming pertinent questions are concerned Practical Religionswissenschaft can make an important contribution to the decoding, decision-making, planning and implementation.


1. Individual, social and questions of the entire societal culture


Whether it is about methods by which people are generated or even produced, about girl's curtailment or the headscarf problem: Practical Science of Religion can bring in its competence to charitable organisations, social services, religious advice centres. Practical Science of Religion can be `applied` in tourism, occupational fields specific for immigration, foreign care, social work and geriatric care. The Turkish working migrants in Germany have long been getting on in years and have become pensioners in the meantime. Working with the elderly and the adult education offer a wide scope of activities for Practical Science of Religion. It belongs to the major basic objects of Practical Science of Religion to generate information about the religious characteristics of foreign or even strange people in order to foster a better understanding of the cultures, and hopefully decreasing and eliminating prejudices.






In the field of health/illness the competence of Practical Religionswissenschaft has become indispensable, too. The problem of e.g. Muslims in hospital encloses a wide spectrum relevant for Practical Religionswissenschaft: Food, importance of visits, pubic images, prayer, grief, and contact with dead people, burial. Various fields of journalism, the area of diplomacy, consultation and coaching activities within the international context are integral and substantial fields of activity for the Practical Science of Religion.


Many societies of today are formed by the „facts of pluralism“(John Rawls). This is definitely no passing appearance, but a lasting sign of the political culture of modern democracies. In light of the factually existing value pluralism, Practical Science of Religion can concentrate on the conflict-mediating field of research and practice. But: Knowledge about practice is not enough; knowledge for practise is at stake. It has primarily to do with creating applicable knowledge.




2. Criticism of religion/s


The second problem field of Practical Science of Religion is criticism of religion/s for the purpose of the critical treatment of religions. The religious vagueness of our days has offered the fact like a duck takes to the water that more and more contemporaries dive into foreign religious worlds. Many students have questions to the Science of Religion resulting from the horizon of the present world of the religions and/or resulting from meetings with adherents of other religions. Not only feministic students take interest in subjects specific for woman, take engagedly side if the role of the woman or sexual-ethical problems stands for discussion. Many are motivated by questions about justice, peace and integrity of creation. More and more contemporaries expect from the Science of Religion orientation and guiding for practice, i.e. facilities for a critical classification of religious or religiously instumentalized phenomena.


The „criticism of religion/s“has been controversially discussed within Science of Religion. Since the Enlightenment and the secularisation thesis religion (sg.) has become the object of criticism. The fact that religions themselves offer critical potentials has become visible in different religious renewal movements.


Judging religious traditions from their own (ethical) criteria – internal criticism of religions“, as I prefer to call it is less problematic than external criticism“deriving from external standards that need to be disclosed. Science of Religion being interested in the historic truth comes up against borders if more than historic truth is demanded. Religious fanaticism, radicalism, fundamentalism, terrorism, slavery, suppression of women are religious phenomena that cannot be analysed uncritically however. Even within religious traditions such mental attitude and justification are extremely criticised. to some extent. One of the most important tasks of Practical Science of Religion is demonstrating the internal differentiation of religious traditions as clear as possible.Although a supposed majority of colleagues will oppose: There is no need for Practical Science of Religion to stop there and represent a sapless and feeble point of view, oftentimes no view at all. Yet expressing no view is definitely a standpoint.


Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) illustrates an appropriate example for Practical Science of Religion that it should not stop to offer a stance whatsoever. In his essay


„Vom Fortschreiten einer Schule mit der Zeit“ (1798) Herder looks for a back door from cultural relativism. Pupils should learn „to admire (…) and to love“, yet they are to be enabled to evaluate strange cultural phenomena. They even have to learn „hating, despising, abhorring what is abhorrent, hideous, and depreciative, otherwise we will become untrue and disloyal murderers of the history of human mankind.”[14] Rudolf Otto’s „Religious League of Nations” (Religiöser Menschheitsbund), founded in 1921, was ensouled by such spirit. The intention of the League was to create a „conscious of mankind“. Hans Küng has travelled around the world and campaigned for basic ethical values that are inalienable and undeniable regardless of religion and nationality through his Project World Ethos.  According to Küng there is a minimum-content code of a humanism that is expressed in the explanation of the Human Rights of the United Nations. Küng`s critics over and over again point out to the fact that a world-ethical minimum consensus remains too formal and abstract to be able to become concrete and practical.


The objects of Practical Science of Religion, its statements, verbal and written texts potentially change existence. They want to give advice, provide options, so that the recipients can leave their state of disorientation. Instead of the construction of a world-ethical minimum consensus the religious traditions should be tested for „profound wisdom and basic positions“. Between diverse religious traditions there is not only difference, arbitrary plurality, complete incompatibility. There do exist overlapping areas with concordant convictions.




3. Mediation of religion/s


Practical Science of Religion concentrates on concrete religions of the past and present. The researcher always encounters religion/s as an entity made up of different dimensions: community, actions, teachings, experiences. The investigation of religion/s requires the adequate consideration of the inter-relations of the religions, their images of each other, the political-economic-social determinants as well as their manifold mediation to the general public. I use to distinguish between primary and secondary forms of religious mediation. Primary mediation has to do with the contents and processes of mediating one`s own religion to one`s own children and adoloescents (i.e. RE). Secondary mediation is about the agencies and impacts of  mediation by communicators, media and public recipients not belonging to a certain religious tradition. Religions are used  publicly: in speech, popular culture such as comics, science fiction novels and films, criminal stories, cartoons, even in commercial advertisment. The media transport informations to a considerable extent about other countries, cultures and religions.




4. Active social experiential learning


A fourth area of Practical Science of Religion is the field of what may be called experiential learning. The religious behaviour of individual people cannot sufficiently be grasped looking simply at their holy writings and the scholarly comments of their interpreters. One must go up to the people, empirical methods have to be employed. In a seminar about „Eating and Drinking in Religious traditions“at the university of Cologne diverse working groups had to concern themselves with questions about permitted/forbidden/holy food in Jewish, Islamic, Asian and diverse Christian religious traditions. Some questions were given, others the students had to work out by themselves. The participants established contacts with Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and orthodox Christians, fixed up common meals with representatives of religious traditions. Thus an unusual access to a foreign religious tradition was made possible. Such meetings with people of other religions and faith with whom the students may communicate, eat and drink, demonstrate the advantages of active, social and experiential learning. They confirmed that already in the university study this kind of the religious-scientific learning leads to readiness and ability of interreligious cooperation.




5. Interreligious Learning


Ninian Smart`s (1927-2001) idea of founding a „World Academy of Religions“ where scholars and representatives of religions could meet to change ideas was attacked by the Council of Guardians of the Science of Religion.[15] Since the congress of Marburg (1960) Science of Religion and religion/s had to be separated once and for all. The signatories of the Marburg congress favoured Religionswissenschaft as a scientific discipline.


„Whatever the subsequent use made by the individual scholar of his special knowledge, and whatever the analysable sociological function of scientific activity in any specific cultural and historical situation, the ethos of our studies in themselves. (…) There may or may not be room for organizations in which students of religion join with others in order to contribute their share towards the promotion of certain ideals – national, international, political, social, spiritual, and otherwise. But this is a matter of individual ideology and commitment, and must under no circumstances be allowed to influence or colour the character of the IAHR.”


This dictum has itself a zealous `religious` character and clearly reminds of clerical dogmatic statements of the following kind: „If anyone says…. anathema sit.”But Zwi Werblowsky, who formulated these „basic minimum presuppositions” of the radical Marburg declaration, represents an old-school view of science and science theory – judged from Derrida and his concept of application. 50 years after Marburg it should have got about that there is no science without responsibility.


In his essay „Responsibility of Scientists (1968) the American writer, playwright, novelist and psychotherapist Paul Goodman (1911-1972), best known as social critic, wrote sentences that can easily be applied to Practical Science of Religion: „Since in the modern era scientific technology has profound and potentially and actually destructive effects on the environment, human scale, the quality of life, and human freedom, scientists have to take responsibility for the technological applications that they make possible:


(a) They must refuse to cooperate with applications that are humanly dubious.


(b) They must evaluate and criticize technological application.


(c) They are responsible to explore the remote effects of technological application.


(d) They must inform the public of their findings in this area.


(e) To make up for past neglect, they must engage in political activity to try to undo the damage that they have cooperated in producing, e.g. in armaments or upsetting the ecology.” (


 The history of religions coming into contact with one another has accelerated after Marburg. The map of the geographic spreading of religions has to be drawn anew. Dialogue – the signal word for certain tendencies of attitude and behaviour is an emotionally highly occupied concept with a vague semantic field. In our area of problems the term dialogue means mutual communicative processes at different levels:


1.               Practical Science of Religion encourages inter- and/or transdisciplinary cooperation with the empirical sciences (social sciences, psychology, culture sciences, Practical Theology etc.)


2.               Practical Science of Religion concerns the relation of science and religion/s. The bare existence of Science of Religion did not only serve to get to know the self-image of the religious traditions but also to change it. Its historic-critical research has been of much benefit for the purification process of the religions. It has shaken the naive self-confidence of the religions, has relativized competing claims to absoluteness. Philological-historical Science of Religion has also indirectly and unintentionally taken influence on though small, but influential currents of thought within different religions. It was partly a trigger of new orientations and Renaissance movements.


3.               The critical function of Practical Science of Religion and its impact on the religions is just one side of the coin. No less relevant are – in reverse – the effects of religion on Science of Religion. This perspective has consequences for the Science of religion: The believers should be exempt from their object status and participate dialogically as partners in the investigations.


4.               Practical Science of Religion is concerned with communication processes not only between the sciences, has not only to do with the interaction between religion and religious traditions. Practical Science of Religion is beyond pertained to the relationship of the different religions to each other and with inter-religious learning. Up to now studies of the processes and theoretical-methodological studies of concrete inter-religious learning are underrepresented in Science of Religion. Practical Science of Religion may be a factor of desirable reorganization of the relationship of religions to one another:


·                 By targeted instigation of field research and the proper presentation of the results, Practical Science of Religions should put the historic and systematic problems of relations among the religions and Christianity stronger in the center of its research


·                 An important task of Practical Science of Religions is to investigate the mutual attitudes, prejudices and stereotypes. Together with other disciplines Practical Science of Religion analyzes the emergence and transmission of fatal attitudes and patterns of perception.


·                 Science of Practical Religionprovides assistance for dialogue (at different levels) by providing the respective representatives of the traditions a comprehensive and nuanced picture of religions.








Benz, Ernst:Die Bedeutung der Religionswissenschaft für die Koexistenz der Weltreligionen heute, IAHR 1968.


Cantwell Smith, Wilfred: Comparative Religion: Whither and Why? In: Willard G. Oxtoby (ed.): Religious Diversity. Essays by Wilfred Cantwell Smith, New York 1976, p.138-157.


Derrida, Jacques: As if I were dead/Als ob ich tot wäre, Wien 20042, originally 1995.


Gantke, Wolfgang: Hat die Religionsphänomenologie angesichts des veränderten interkulturellen Kontextes noch eine Zukunft? Zur engagierten Religionswissenschaft. In: Wege zur Religionswissenschaft. Eine interkulturelle Orientierung, Nordhausen 2007, p.49-78. 


Herder, Johann Gottfried: Werke XXX, 1978, Bd. XXX, p. 239-249.


Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim: Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Gustav Mensching +. In: ZRGG 31 (1979), p.203-205.


Malley, Brian E.: Toward an Engaged Religious Studies. In: Bulletin of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion 26 (1997).


Mensching, Gustav: Gut und Böse im Glauben der Völker, Stuttgart 1950.


Mensching, Gustav: Der Irrtum in der Religion, Heidelberg 1969.


Mensching, Gustav: Tolerance and Truth in Religion (orig.1955), Alabama 1971


Müller, Friedrich Max: Introduction to the Science of Religion. Four Lectures, Varanasi 1972 (orig. 1870).


Zwi Werblowsky, R. J.: Die Rolle der Religionswissenschaft bei der Förderung gegenseitigen Verständnisses. In: Günter Lanczkowski (ed.): Selbstverständnis und Wesen der Religionswissenschaft, Darmstadt 1974, pp.180-188.


Martin, Luther H./Wiebe, Donald: On declaring WAR: a critical comment. In: Method and Theory in the Study of religion 5/1, 1993, pp. 47-52.





[1] Wolfgang Gantke: Hat die Religionsphänomenologie angesichts des veränderten interkulturellen Kontextes noch eine Zukunft? 2007, S.49-78. –  Brian E. Malley: Toward an Engaged Religious Studies. In: Bulletin of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion 26 (1997).

[2] R.J.Zwi Werblowsky: : Die Rolle der Religionswissenschaft bei der Förderung gegenseitigen Verständnisses, 1974, p.180.


[3]Friedrich Max Müller: Introduction to the Science of Religion, p.7.

[4]Benz, Ernst:Die Bedeutung der Religionswissenschaft für die Koexistenz der Weltreligionen heute, IAHR 1968, p.8.

[5] Jacques Derrida: As if I were dead, 2004, originally 1995.

[6]Klimkeit 1971, p.6.

[7]Mensching 1950, p. viii

[8]Alabama 1971

[9]Ibid., p.3.

[10]Ibid., p.9f.

[12]Mensching 1969, p.5.

[13]Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Comparative Religion: Whither and Why? In Willard G. Oxtoby (ed.): Religious Diversity. Essays by Wilfred Cantwell Smith, New York 1976, p. 142.


[14] Herder, 1978, Bd. XXX, p. 243.


[15] „On declaring WAR: a critical comment“ by Luther H. Martin/Donald Wiebe. In: Method and Theory in the Study of religion 5/1, 1993, 47-52.