Undergraduate Certificate in Intercultural Studies with a focus in Folk Religion & Culture

Serving among religious peoples in the mission of God

Why Folk Religion & Culture?

The Undergraduate Certificate in Folk Religion & Culture offers students an understanding of the influence of popular religious belief on culture as it is practiced in a wide variety of societies as well as it's influence on western culture. Through the program, students learn practical ways to identify folk cultural beliefs, oral traditions, and material culture as a means of developing a better understanding of missional outreach around the world. The certificate enables students to gain the following capabilities:

  • ability to compare and contrast various approaches to answering key questions regarding the relationship between Christianity and world religions
  • ability to identify, collect, represent ethically, and offer sophisticated analyses of different forms of vernacular culture including the relationship between folklore and worldview.
  • basic competency in identifying the ongoing processes of adapting, reclaiming, and creating folk traditions, beliefs, rituals, and physical objects within a specific folk culture
  • basic competency in analyzing the meaning-making of oral tradition and addressing ongoing cultural challenges through oral traditions.
  • basic competency in studying the material culture of specific folk cultures and relating it to their folk belief system
  • ability to use anthropological methods for understanding folk practices and perspectives, or, to study folk visual art in relation to community identity, or, to study the distribution and diffusion of folk culture and the norms associated with folk religion.
  • ability to explore the function of folk cultures to discern appropriate communication approaches in sharing the gospel with folk religion adherents, or, to design contextual approaches to starting a missional congregation in specific folk cultures.

According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 405 million people – or about 6% of the world’s population – were adherents of folk or traditional religions in 2010, and that number is expected to grow to 450 million by 2050. Folk religion, popular religion, or vernacular religion comprises various forms and expressions of religion that are distinct from the official doctrines and practices of organized religion. The precise definition of folk religion varies among scholars, however, it is often seen as consisting of ethnic or regional religious customs under the umbrella of a religion, but outside official doctrine and practices. Folk religion is often a syncretism of two cultures that reshape world religion into folk Christianity, folk Buddhism, folk Hinduism, folk Islam, etc. where formal religions are mixed with folk cultures. Folk or traditional religions are faiths closely associated with a particular group of people, ethnicity or tribe. They often have no formal creeds or sacred texts. Examples of folk religions include African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions and Australian aboriginal religions. The Undergraduate Certificate in Folk Religion & Culture equips students to serve among folk cultures by providing hands-on tools to recognize the traditions, beliefs, rituals, oral traditions, and physical objects of folk culture and develop missional approaches to engage folk culture communities.