Abstract

The present article is meant as a challenge to theology, based on a specific theoretical approach to religion. It argues, first, that studies of everyday religion can benefit from a pragmatic approach that focuses on what religions are used for. From a theoretical perspective, religions provide symbolically mediated resources for orientation and transformation, and are only then relevant to investigate with regard to how theological doctrine elaborates, explains and legitimates practices related to such use. The article develops a sketch for such a theoretical approach and demonstrates its relevance through a reading of two recent studies of everyday religion, Ammerman (2014) and Mercadante (2014). The results of this reading suggest that the recent and growing recognition of how religion needs to be studied – as practices, more than as beliefs and doctrines – is supported, and that theological reflection and reasoning matter less than practices of orientation and transformation. Thus the predominant view in theological studies of religion, that still seems to focus mainly on the aspect of doctrine, is challenged.