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The purpose of this article is to reconsider the concept of “charisma of function”, such as Max Weber introduced it in his Sociology of religion. The conceptualization that Weber proposed of it seems however unfinished, and used only to characterized a kind of degeneration of personal charisma, and more precisely, as the shape that takes charisma when routinized. The discussion of this assumption supposes to return to the sources used by Weber, namely the book of Rudoph Sohm, Kirchenrecht, published in 1892. It is in Sohm that Weber drew the opposite pair of personal charisma and charisma of function. But, the context of the publication of Kirchenrecht is a Lutheran one, and it seems that Weber, in its interpretation and the secularization which he operates of the concept of charisma, remained prisoner of these Lutheran reasoning; it, in particular, prevented him from properly and autonomously conceptualising the “charisma of function”. But, Sohm’s work did not cease also feeding the reflection of the Catholics on charisma; it led them, in particular, to rediscover the pneumatic dimension in their theology of the Church and ministries. The question which now, consequently, remains open is that to know if catholic theology, and more precisely catholic ecclesiology, cannot make it possible to think the charisma differently, in particular in his relation to the institution – so that this ecclesiology would be carrying a lateral possibility for the sociology of charisma. The question is thus to discover whereas one can reconstruct, in the light of the catholic reflection, an alternative concept of the charisma of function.


  • bureaucracy
  • charisma
  • legal-rational legitimac
  • theology
  • weber
Jean-Philippe Heurtin
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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