Children of Jesus and Mary

Children of Jesus and Mary : The Order of Christ Sophia

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The Order of Christ Sophia (OCS) is a small New Religion which, in the short span of eight years, has evoked intense controversy. An unusual synthesis of traditional Catholicism, esoteric cosmology, and psychotherapy, the OCS already has centers in a dozen major cities in the United States. Thus far, however, it has eluded the attention of scholars of alternative religions. A schismatic offshoot of an earlier group, the Holy Order of Man, the OCS developed a distinctive set of beliefs and practices that set it apart from the mother faith. It has cultivated some curious and provocative features for a Christian-based religion, including the elevation of women to full participation and status within the evolving sacred order. Its treatment of gender is refreshingly egalitarian; women can be priests, and Mary is deified and given equal status with Jesus. Another unusual feature of the group is its emphasis on psychology and prescription of intensive psychotherapy for all members. Beyond surveying the history, doctrines and practices of this unusual group, Lewis brings data from his study of the OCS to bear on many items of conventional wisdom in the New Religions field. He shows, for example, that far from joining the Order in response to a 'youth crisis,' the average age of new OCS members is 37. This and a number of other characteristics of the OCS membership challenge generally accepted conclusions about recruits to New Religions. Lewis also examines how various theoretical models, such as Rodney Stark's influential model of religious 'success,' pan out when applied to the OCS. Lewis shows that although some of Stark's postulates are insightful, other aspects of the model are severely deficient. In addition to the six core chapters of the book authored by Lewis, three other experts contribute chapters on: the results of personality and I.Q. tests administered to member; membership attitudes; comparison of OCS with mainstream denominations; and sex roles in the more

Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 30.48mm | 476.27g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous black and white halftones
  • 019537844X
  • 9780195378443

About James Lewis

James Lewis: Lecturer, Religious Studies, DePaul University; Nicholas Levine: Fulbright Scholarshow more

Review quote

A coherent, clearly presented, and exhaustive study that skillfully employs a full range of approaches to the study of new religious communities. * International Journal for the Study of Religion *show more

Table of contents

Authors and Contributors ; Introduction ; 1. History ; 2. Beliefs and Practices ; 3. Demographic Profile ; 4. Controversy ; 5. Religious Experience ; 6. Women's Roles ; 7. Psychological Profile ; 8. Membership Attitudes ; 9. The Order of Christ Sophia and Traditional Protestant Churches ; 10. Future Prospects ; Appendix: Chronology ; Bibliographyshow more