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On the affective salience of doctrines

Zahl, Simeon

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Simeon Zahl


This article builds on the work of George Lindbeck to examine the role of doctrines in the shaping of religious experience and emotion. Using a series of historical examples, it argues for the value of identifying a mode of theological argument that supports claims through attending to perceived affective effects of particular doctrines. It then applies this approach to Philipp Melanchthon’s classic articulation of the forensic model of the doctrine justification by faith in light of contemporary critiques of the doctrine as a ‘legal fiction’ to show how such critiques fail when examined from the perspective of affective salience, and draws on recent work in cognitive science to demonstrate the psychological plausibility of Melanchthon’s description of the affective consequences of justification.


Zahl, S. (2015). On the affective salience of doctrines. Modern Theology, 31(3),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 10, 2014
Publication Date Jul 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jul 1, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 1, 2016
Journal Modern Theology
Print ISSN 0266-7177
Electronic ISSN 1468-0025
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 3
Keywords Affectivity, Melanchthon, Lindbeck, Milbank, Doctrine, Theology and Cognitive Science
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Zahl, S. (2015), On the Affective Salience of Doctrines. Modern Theology, 31: 428–444, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


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