Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 299–328 | Cite as

Cultural Psychology of Religion: Spiritual Transformation

  • Al Dueck
  • Austin Johnson


Cultural psychology as a field has emerged over the past 30 years, but little effort has been expended in extrapolating its findings to transformative religious experiences. This essay posits a model of cultural psychology of religion and then uses it to assess Rambo and Farhadian’s (2014) Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion. The collection of essays in this handbook provides extensive and diverse perspectives on significant life changes labeled as such by the individuals involved and/or their communities. Instances of alignment with and departure from a cultural psychology of religion perspective are discussed, with careful attention given to the implications of indigenous views of selfhood, community, and religion for the phenomenon of religious transformation. We present cultural psychology of religion as a mutually constellating network of cultural, psychological, and religious phenomena. Spiritual change, then, is a movement, be it subtle or extreme, from one cultural/psychological world to another. In expounding this view, we will refer for support to three exemplars of spiritual change (one each from the Muslim, Protestant, and Jewish traditions), the literature from the handbook, and other studies on the cultural psychology of religion.


Cultural psychology Religion Conversion Spiritual transformation Change 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fuller Graduate School of PsychologyPasadenaUSA

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