4 Toward a Paradigm for Longitudinal Studies: The Order of Christ Sophia
James R. Lewis [+]
In Chapters Four and Five, I examine data that I and others gathered on members of two NRMs, the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) and the Order of Christ Sophia (OCS). These two groups provide contrasting examples of longitudinal approaches, and in these two chapters findings from surveys are presented and discussed in terms of the parameters laid out by Lorne Dawson in his 1996 summary of NRM conversion research, “Who Joins New Religions and Why: Twenty Years of Research and What Have We Learned?” (later republished as a chapter in his 2003 reader, Cults and New Religions, and in his 2006 textbook, Comprehending Cults). In 2005, 2008 and 2011, demographic questionnaires were administered to the membership of the Order of Christ Sophia, a “new age” Christian group in the Holy Order of MANS tradition. In addition to analyzing the changes that have taken place in the Order between 2005 and 2011, the research project is presented as a paradigm for conducting longitudinal studies of other new religious movements in the future.