University platform for research on Islam

Initiated by
the Federation
of European

Supported by
the International
of Catholic


video | See all resources



Religious affiliation, belonging and apostasy : a case study of Christian and Moslem conceptions

Lecture of Dirk ANSORGE, at the PLURIEL second international Congress in Rome


It is well known that in Christianity – particularly in the European mainline churches – religious affiliation primarily is not founded in belief, but in baptism. According to traditional Christian faith, baptism creates what theology calls a “character indelebilis”. This means that even in case of apostasy or faithlessness the unbeliever doesn’t cease being Christian. However, at least for Catholics the Second Vatican Council shed new light on the legitimacy of religious conversion by emphasizing the pivotal role of human conscience. The decision of a learned human conscience has to be respected even if it suggests leaving the church or if it leads to atheism. Therefore the paper will discuss the theological and juridical impact of renunciation from Christianity in order to compare it with Muslim conceptions of religious affiliation, renunciation, and apostasy. How can one conceive the relationship between juridical affiliation and the practice of belief, behaviour, and belonging?

Conférence de Dirk ANSORGE, au deuxième congrès international de PLURIEL à Rome


Il est bien connu que dans le christianisme – en particulier dans les grandes églises européennes – l’appartenance religieuse n’est pas principalement fondée sur la croyance, mais sur le baptême. Selon la foi chrétienne traditionnelle, le baptême crée ce que la théologie appelle un character indelebilis. Cela signifie que même en cas d’apostasie ou d’infidélité, le non-croyant ne cesse pas d’être chrétien. Cependant, au moins pour les catholiques, le Concile Vatican II a apporté un éclairage nouveau sur la légitimité de la conversion religieuse en soulignant le rôle central de la conscience humaine. La décision d’une conscience humaine savante doit être respectée même si elle suggère de quitter l’église ou si elle conduit à l’athéisme.

Par conséquent, l’article traitera de l’impact théologique et juridique du renoncement au christianisme afin de le comparer aux conceptions musulmanes de l’appartenance religieuse, du renoncement et de l’apostasie. Comment concevoir le rapport entre l’affiliation juridique et la pratique de la croyance, du comportement et de l’appartenance ?

Titre original : “Religious affiliation, belonging and apostasy : a case study of Christian and Moslem conceptions”

Resources related toIdentities


Being yourself through the other. How I grew up in a context of diversity

    Auteur(s) :

  • Michel Younès

“This book retraces the itinerary of Michel Younès in which he shows that otherness is part of identity. In a context where cultural and religious diversity is no longer an option, he seeks t...


Not without others: recognition of others and unity in Christ – on the relationship between mission and dialogue

    Auteur(s) :

  • Tobias Specker

Article published in the missiology journal ZMR 106 (2022/1-4), double issue: “Evangelisation and Fraternity in the Plural World


Education And Otherness: What are the Issues in a Context of Diversity?

    Auteur(s) :

  • Salim Daccache

In the era of the continuous call for the adoption of citizenship and living together (al Azhar declaration March 2017) and human brotherhood and common coexistence (Abu Dhabi document February 201...


The representation of non-Islamist Muslims in Sunni Islamist discourse

    Auteur(s) :

  • Wael Saleh

Full lecture title : 'The representation of non-Islamist Muslims in Sunni Islamist discourse: an intra-religious otherness?' In what ways do non-Brother Muslims (especially secular, liberal and ...


Thinking Islam in Europe

    Auteur(s) :

  • Alberto Fabio Ambrosio

Interview with Alberto F. Ambrosio, dominican friar, professor of Theology and Histpry of Religions at the Luxembourg School of Religion & Society. Reporter : Raphaël Georgy With the collabor...


Muslim as ‘Other’ in former Yugoslavia

    Auteur(s) :

  • Cédomir Nestorovic

Balkan Islam, and in particular that of the former Yugoslavia, is plural because of its ethnic diversity. However, the collective perception does not see it that way, due to a double homogenisation...


Between Standardization And Otherness: Being A Muslim In The In The French Armed Forces

    Auteur(s) :

  • Elyamine Settoul

Already present since the colonisation process, the question of Islam within the French army has reappeared strongly with the settling down of the populations resulting from the great waves of indu...


Otherness and nationalisms, the threat of identity to openness

    Auteur(s) :

  • Antoine Fleyfel

This talk addresses the issue of Islam and otherness from the perspective of Christians in the Middle East. At the heart of the multiple constructions of identity since the mid-nineteenth century i...


The other in Islamic civilization: from the immanence of cultures to divine transcendence

    Auteur(s) :

  • Raja Sakrani

Lecture given at the 3rd International Congress of Pluriel on the theme "Islam and Otherness", on 24 May 2022, at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. Read abstract on the French tab.


Protestantism and Islam

    Auteur(s) :

  • Pierre-Olivier Léchot

How did Martin Luther and John Calvin view Islam? How have Protestant theologians contributed to research on Islam? Pierre-Olivier Léchot, professor of modern history at the Protestant Institute of...