EXPERIENTIAL: That dimension of religion wherein the divine or superhuman realm is perceived as being experienced directly (in an instant or cumulatively over time). The classic examples are experiences called “mystical” and more prosaic instances as “inspirations.”

Examples: The revelation to Muhammad, prophecy, sensing an answer to a prayer, speaking in tongues.


RITUAL: This dimension includes the highly symbolic activities of prayer, worship and other patterned behaviors designed to re-enact, to celebrate, and/or to bring about communication with the divine or superhuman realm.

Examples: festivals, recurrent rituals of prayer and worship (the hajj, making the sign of the cross, baptism)


SOCIAL/INSTITUTIONAL: The forms in which religious teaching, authority, and common living are organized and transmitted.

Examples: churches, synagogues, Muslim umma, mosque


DOCTRINAL: This dimension contains explanatory statements about the beliefs of a religion. They are organized systematically in some traditions in order to show the coherence between different and sometimes contradictory beliefs. In all cases they represent an effort to clarify and give intellectual vigor to religious beliefs.

Examples: creeds, theologies, rules for interpreting sacred texts


ETHICAL: A religion’s more or less systematically organized set of moral beliefs and behavioral guidelines that prescribe moral ideals for personal and social life and that proscribe or prohibit activities contrary to those ideals. These normative moral statements are usually cast in very concrete terms as evoked in the tradition’s myth and ritual.

Examples: the Ten Commandments, the Sha’ria, Sermon on the Mount


MYTHOLOGICAL: Among other things, this dimension includes beliefs (usually, but not always expressed in the form of stories) about beginnings and endings, gods, culture heroes, special times, places, historical events.

Example: creation and flood stories, stories about Zeus, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad.





Beliefs                          Practices


doctrines                      experience

ethics                           institutions

myths                           rituals