George Chryssides

George D. Chryssides (born 1945), has taught at several British universities, becoming head of religious studies at the University of Wolverhampton in 2001. He is currently honorary research fellow in contemporary religion at York St John University and the University of Birmingham.[1] He is the author of several books and articles. Chryssides has a particular interest in new religious movements, on which he has published extensively.[2]


Chryssides holds an MA in philosophy and a BD in systematic theology from the University of Glasgow and a DPhil in philosophy of religion from the University of Oxford.

Definition of new religious movements

Chryssides entered the debate about how to define the category of “new religious movements.” While other scholars insist on either theological or sociological features, and suggest to identify as “new religious movements” the groups with a non-mainline theology or perceived as deviant by society, Chryssides favors a simple chronological test, although one combined with the fact that the movement is clearly outside the great world religions. For him, “new religious movement” is an organization founded “within the past 150 or so years,” which cannot be easily classified within one of the world’s main religious traditions.[3]

Study of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Chryssides has been defined by fellow sociologist James T. Richardson as “one of the leading scholars” of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He sees in the Witnesses both continuity and change. Although some features of the movement remain stable, change is also frequent, making old assessments and criticism quickly outdated. Indeed, according to Chryssides, criticism itself is a main factor determining change.[4]

Using ex-members of new religious movements as a reliable source

Chryssides has said that he learned useful information from critical ex-members of the Jehovah's Witnesses, although accounts by critical former members may be biased.[5]



  • Chryssides, George D. (1991). The Advent of Sun Myung Moon: The Origins, Beliefs and Practices of the Unification Church. UK: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-333-49698-5.
  • (1998). The Elements of Unitarianism. Element Books. ISBN 1-86204-247-0.
  • (1999). Exploring New Religions. London: Cassell. ISBN 0-304-33651-3.
  • (2001). Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements. Lanham, Maryland, and London: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-4095-2.
  • (2003). Unitarian Perspectives on Contemporary Social Issues. London: Lindsey Press.
  • (2008). Historical Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-6074-2.
  • (2009). The A to Z of Jehovah's Witnesses. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-6891-5.
  • (2010). Christianity Today. Continuum. ISBN 978-1-8470-6542-1.
  • (2011). Christians in the Twenty-First Century. Equinox. ISBN 978-1-84553-213-0.
  • (2013). The Study of Religion:An Introduction to Key Ideas and Methods 2nd. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-78093-840-0.
  • (2016). Jehovah's Witnesses Continuity and Change. Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4094-5608-7.



  1. "Author profile".
  2. "Author profile". Equinox. Archived from the original on 2006-11-10.
  3. Driedger, Michael; Wolfart, Johannes C. (2018). "Reframing the History of New Religious Movements". Nova Religio. 21 (4): 5–12. doi:10.1525/nr.2018.21.4.5.
  4. Richardson, James T. (2017). "Review: Jehovah's Witnesses: Continuity and Change by George D. Chryssides". Nova Religio. 21 (2): 118–120. doi:10.1525/nr.2017.21.2.118.
  5. Thomas, Aled J.L. (23 November 2017). "Insider Knowledge: Seeing the Bigger Picture with New Religious Movements". Religious Studies Project. Retrieved 25 January 2020.