Religious Homophily and Biblicism

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  • Title: Religious Homophily and Biblicism: A Theory of Conservative Church Fragmentation
  • Author(s): Darren Slade
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Religion in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society
  • Keywords: Religious Homophily, Biblicism, Institutional Christianity, Religion Singularity, Conservative Churches, Liberal Protestantism, Church Fragmentation, Church Splits, Denominational Decline
  • Volume: 9
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2154-8633 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2154-8641 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Slade, Darren. 2019. "Religious Homophily and Biblicism: A Theory of Conservative Church Fragmentation." The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society 9 (1): 13-28. doi:10.18848/2154-8633/CGP/v09i01/13-28.
  • Extent: 16 pages


According to the most recent demographic datasets, the number of new Christian congregations throughout the world is outpacing the total number of new Christians, suggesting that institutional Christianity has become more proficient at internal division than it has at outward multiplication. Using the psychological phenomenon known as “homophily,” the purpose of this article is to provide a brief elaboration on the sociopsychological reasoning for why conflicts over biblical interpretation may be one of the dominant causes, among other factors, for conservative church splits and for why “biblicism” may cause fragmentation among evangelicals more than their liberal Protestant counterparts. The article will first define and characterize theological conservatism, homophily, and biblicism before discussing the possible correlation between conflicts over biblical interpretation and church fragmentation. The article proposes that theological disagreements over exclusivist scriptural interpretations is a viable explanation for the destabilization of conservative congregations. Church splits among evangelicals are explainable partly because of the conservative tendency toward religious homophily and the need to establish rival congregations built around competing biblical interpretations.