Special Issue "Current Trajectories in Global Pentecostalism: Culture, Social Engagement, and Change"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 July 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Roger G. Robins

Center for Global Communication Strategies, North American Section, Department of Area Studies, Department of English Language, College of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8092, Japan
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Early Pentecostalism; The political turn in U.S. Pentecostalism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The twenty-first century has witnessed a rich outpouring of scholarship in the once lightly attended field of Pentecostal studies. Today, historians, theologians, and religious studies scholars are joined by colleagues representing cultural studies, critical theory, and the full panoply of the social sciences. As the field has gathered strength and standing, it has also raised awareness. Whereas scholars of Pentecostalism once felt obliged to array a preemptive battery of statistics in defense of their vocation, they now increasingly expect the scale and importance of the movement to be taken more-or-less for granted. Indeed, developments within global Pentecostalism have conspired with the resurgence of religious actors generally to insure that an informed observer, if not the average lay reader, will usually recognize the movement’s relevance to subjects ranging from electoral politics and human security to economic values and the formation of social capital.

Yet, much remains to be done. For one thing, the object of study is a complex, rapidly growing phenomenon marked by hybridity and fracture, glocalization and paradox.  Consequently, studies may have a rather short shelf life. Changes shift the ground beneath old assumptions, former preoccupations grow less fitting, new questions arise—either within our disciplines or from developments on the ground—that require even the best studies to be updated and extended. Furthermore, as the volume and quality of scholarship expand, the need to broaden and deepen the dialogue gains urgency. Today, scholars on every inhabited continent are employing an impressive variety of tools to examine structures and textures, collectivities and individuals, pulpit and pew, street corner and statehouse. Drawing these threads together into a sustained interdisciplinary conversation will greatly enhance our portraits of the coterie of entities we house under the name of global Pentecostalism.

This special issue of Religions is devoted to just such a conversation. The title, Current Trajectories in Global Pentecostalism: Culture, Social Engagement, and Change, highlights three intimately related domains of particular interest that we wish to present for interdisciplinary consideration:

  • Culture: How are Pentecostals construing or manifesting themselves via rhetoric and discourse, gender and sexual ethics, worship, music, spirituality, theology, pedagogy, architecture, or material culture?
  • Social Engagement: Where are the leading points of engagement between Pentecostalism and contemporary societies, and what are the effects of such engagement? How is Pentecostalism enabling (or disabling) the faithful—individually or collectively—in their efforts to engage society and negotiate the realities of daily life in the modern world?
  • Change: What are the key dimensions of social or cultural change within Pentecostalism? How is Pentecostalism being transformed as it attempts to transform the world?

The ideal submission will be grounded in primary research, close reading, or case studies, but with a synthetic cast that opens to broader observations concerning global Pentecostalism. Also, we are interested in submissions that focus on the individual as well as those that examine groups and communities. Religions, that is to say, has interest in Pentecostals as well as Pentecostalism.

We are especially keen to solicit submissions from senior scholars whose personal experience can yield a diachronic view of the movement. What are the key recent developments in the areas you have been monitoring? And how has your thinking about the movement changed over the course of your career?

Note of definition: In demarcating the perimeter of our subject, we will show a preference for Pentecostal, Neo-Pentecostal, or Renewalist movements operating largely outside of the traditional Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic Church, or historic Orthodoxy. (If you wish to appeal with a Charismatic exception, feel free to make your case.) As a rule of thumb, we will consider Pentecostalism to encompass movements that place emphasis on baptism in the Holy Spirit; profess and practice spiritual gifts (including divine healing); endorse (and at least occasionally practice) glossolalia; adopt a “Born Again” view of salvation; and self-ascribe as Christian.


Dr. Roger G. Robins
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Pentecostalism
  • Pentecostal
  • Neo-Pentecostal
  • Renewal
  • Renewalist
  • Globalization

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Acknowledgment of Country: Intersecting Australian Pentecostalisms Reembeding Spirit in Place
Religions 2018, 9(10), 287; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9100287
Received: 7 August 2018 / Revised: 7 September 2018 / Accepted: 7 September 2018 / Published: 21 September 2018
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Abstract
This article builds upon a previous application of Nimi Wariboko’s “Charismatic City” proposal, adapting it to the Australian context. Within this metaphor, the Pentecostal worshipper is situated in a rhizomatic network that flows with particular energies, forming a new spirit-ed common space that
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This article builds upon a previous application of Nimi Wariboko’s “Charismatic City” proposal, adapting it to the Australian context. Within this metaphor, the Pentecostal worshipper is situated in a rhizomatic network that flows with particular energies, forming a new spirit-ed common space that serves as the basis of global civil society. In this network, the culturally dominant metropolis and the culturally alternative heteropolis speak in distinct voices or tongues: An act that identifies and attunes participants to the Spirit’s existing work in the world. Here, two interweaving Australian Pentecostalisms are presented. The metropolis in this example is Hillsong Church, well known for its song repertoire and international conferences. In contrast, the heteropolis is a diverse group led by Aboriginal Australian pastors Will and Sandra Dumas from Ganggalah Church. In 2017, Hillsong Conference incorporated a Christianised version of an “Acknowledgement to Country,” a traditional Indigenous ceremonial welcome, into its public liturgy, which is arguably evidence of speaking new languages. In this case, it also serves a political purpose, to recognise Aboriginal Pentecostals within a new commons. This interaction shows how Joel Robbin’s Pentecostal “impulses” of “globalization,” “cultural fragmentation” and “world-making” can operate simultaneously within the ritual life of national churches. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Stigmatisation and Ritual: An Analysis of the Stigmatisation of Pentecostalism in Chile
Religions 2018, 9(8), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9080246
Received: 9 July 2018 / Revised: 1 August 2018 / Accepted: 8 August 2018 / Published: 16 August 2018
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Abstract
Pentecostalism has been one of the most successful religious movements in Chile due to both its historical growth and its ascendancy in different spheres of society. Nevertheless, from its origins to the present day, it has also been the most stigmatised religious movement
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Pentecostalism has been one of the most successful religious movements in Chile due to both its historical growth and its ascendancy in different spheres of society. Nevertheless, from its origins to the present day, it has also been the most stigmatised religious movement in the country. Studies have explained this phenomenon by referring to variables of social class or religious rivalry. However, they have forgotten a factor that is key to this problem and to Pentecostalism: its ritual dimension. The aim of this article is to analyse the relationship between the stigmatisation of the movement and its unusual ritual life. It is concluded from the analysis of documentary sources that the principal contexts in which Pentecostalism is stigmatised are those that feature the staging of ritual, and that the stigmatisation mainly attacks and disparages the most distinctive ritual practices of the movement. Full article
Open AccessArticle Pentecostal Forms across Religious Divides: Media, Publicity, and the Limits of an Anthropology of Global Pentecostalism
Religions 2018, 9(7), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070217
Received: 14 June 2018 / Revised: 6 July 2018 / Accepted: 9 July 2018 / Published: 16 July 2018
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Abstract
Scholars of Pentecostalism have usually studied people who embrace it, but rarely those who do not. I suggest that the study of global Pentecostalism should not limit itself to Pentecostal churches and movements and people who consider themselves Pentecostal. It should include the
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Scholars of Pentecostalism have usually studied people who embrace it, but rarely those who do not. I suggest that the study of global Pentecostalism should not limit itself to Pentecostal churches and movements and people who consider themselves Pentecostal. It should include the repercussions of Pentecostal ideas and forms outside Pentecostalism: on non-Pentecostal and non-Christian religions, on popular cultural forms, and on what counts as ‘religion’ or ‘being religious’. Based on my ethnographic study of a charismatic-Pentecostal mega-church and a neo-traditional African religious movement in Ghana, I argue that neo-Pentecostalism, due to its strong and mass-mediated public presence, provides a powerful model for the public representation of religion in general, and some of its forms are being adopted by non-Pentecostal and non-Christian groups, including the militantly anti-Pentecostal Afrikania Mission. Instead of treating neo-Pentecostal and neo-traditionalist revival as distinct religious phenomena, I propose to take seriously their intertwinement in a single religious field and argue that one cannot sufficiently understand the rise of new religious movements without understanding how they influence each other, borrow from each other, and define themselves vis-à-vis each other. This has consequences for how we conceive of the study of Pentecostalism and how we define its object. Full article
Open AccessArticle Will God Make Me Rich? An Investigation into the Relationship between Membership in Charismatic Churches, Wealth, and Women’s Empowerment in Ghana
Religions 2018, 9(6), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060195
Received: 15 May 2018 / Revised: 15 June 2018 / Accepted: 17 June 2018 / Published: 19 June 2018
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Abstract
In recent decades, there has been an explosion in the growth of Pentecostal churches in Ghana, many of which preach that belief in God will translate into material wealth for both men and women. While some have argued that women in these churches
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In recent decades, there has been an explosion in the growth of Pentecostal churches in Ghana, many of which preach that belief in God will translate into material wealth for both men and women. While some have argued that women in these churches are likely to be more empowered due to female leadership and focus on the individual, others have argued that this may not translate to the typical congregant’s experience. After all, members of the Pentecostal church subscribe to the belief that wives should “submit to their husbands” (Biblia n.d.). In this study, I used the 2014 Demographic Health Survey to directly test whether women who identify as Pentecostal/Charismatic/Evangelical have a higher level of empowerment as measured by autonomy in decision making. I found that they exhibit significantly less decision-making power than other Christian women in making big household purchases and on their own healthcare. This exists both before and after controlling for wealth. Thus, the notion that Pentecostal women are more empowered than other Christians appears to be misguided. Full article
Open AccessArticle Sincere Performance in Pentecostal Megachurch Music
Religions 2018, 9(6), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060192
Received: 12 May 2018 / Revised: 8 June 2018 / Accepted: 11 June 2018 / Published: 15 June 2018
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Abstract
Drawing on the work of Webb Keane and Joel Robbins in the anthropology of Christianity, furnished with the influential work of Charles Hirschkind in the anthropology of Islam, and the ethnographic studies of Tom Wagner and Mark Jennings on Pentecostal worship music, this
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Drawing on the work of Webb Keane and Joel Robbins in the anthropology of Christianity, furnished with the influential work of Charles Hirschkind in the anthropology of Islam, and the ethnographic studies of Tom Wagner and Mark Jennings on Pentecostal worship music, this article critically examines ideas of sincerity in the musical practices of Pentecostal megachurches. Making use of ethnographic data from research on congregational music in South Africa, including interviews with a variety of Pentecostal musicians, this article argues that the question of Protestant sincerity, understood following Keane as emphasizing individual moral autonomy and suspicion of external material religious forms for expressing one’s inner state, is particularly acute in the case of the Hillsong megachurch. Employing the full array of spectacular possibilities made available by the contemporary culture industry, Hillsong churches centralize cultural production and standardize musical performance whilst simultaneously emphasizing individual religious experience. It is argued that Pentecostal megachurches seek to realize a form of sincere mimicry grounded in learned and embodied practices. Full article
Open AccessArticle Mobilising Religious Assets for Social Transformation: A Theology of Decolonial Reconstruction Perspective on the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs (MNGRA) in Zambia
Religions 2018, 9(6), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060176
Received: 16 May 2018 / Revised: 22 May 2018 / Accepted: 25 May 2018 / Published: 28 May 2018
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Abstract
The article argues for a theology of decolonial reconstruction to aid the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs (MNGRA) in its search for a new political vision for Zambian society. The MNGRA was established in 2017 by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to
[...] Read more.
The article argues for a theology of decolonial reconstruction to aid the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs (MNGRA) in its search for a new political vision for Zambian society. The MNGRA was established in 2017 by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to strengthen the Declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation. The second republican President Frederick JT Chiluba declared Zambia a Christian nation (hereafter, the Declaration) on 29 December 1991. In 1996, the Declaration was enshrined in the preamble of the National Constitution. Zambian Pentecostalism, perceived as chief architect and guardian of the Declaration, is also believed to have masterminded the introduction of the MNGRA. A female Pentecostal Pastor, Hon. Rev. Godfridah Sumaili, in fact heads the ministry. One of the key roles of the MNGRA is to stimulate faith-based organizations and religious communities’ interest, support and participation in pursuit of social reconstruction and transformation of the nation. To this effect, MNGRA has deployed a methodology, which seeks to dialogue with these organizations and at the same time use a ‘top-bottom’ approach to promote religious morality in the process of social reconstruction and transformation. This article argues that, being a ministry with a strong conservative Christian orientation, MNGRA is in danger of falling prey to a Pentecostal demo-theocratic (democratic and theocratic) political paradigm which rejects certain human rights, religious pluralism, and knowledge constructions from other religions, which are perceived inferior. The article also analyses the viability of ‘top-bottom’ approach utilizing a theology of decolonial reconstruction. This approach embraces a pluralistic model of integral religious praxis at all levels of life. Full article
Open AccessArticle ‘The Altars Are Holding the Nation in Captivity’: Zambian Pentecostalism, Nationality, and African Religio-Political Heritage
Religions 2018, 9(5), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050145
Received: 8 February 2018 / Revised: 18 April 2018 / Accepted: 23 April 2018 / Published: 28 April 2018
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Abstract
The study draws on ontocracy political theory to investigate Zambian Pentecostal interpretations of politics as a sacred realm of contestations between forces of good and evil. It argues that Zambian Pentecostal theology of nationality is a continuation of traditional African religio-cultural ethnonational heritage.
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The study draws on ontocracy political theory to investigate Zambian Pentecostal interpretations of politics as a sacred realm of contestations between forces of good and evil. It argues that Zambian Pentecostal theology of nationality is a continuation of traditional African religio-cultural ethnonational heritage. It demonstrates how Zambian Pentecostal theology of nationality is based on socio-historically constructed conceptions that drew their foundation from traditional myths, symbols and cultures. It concludes that Zambian Pentecostalism has failed to make distinctions among various types of human authorities, thereby promoting a theology of nationality that mystifies the source of the political authority of the presidents of the nation, who are perceived as absorbing both secular and spiritual responsibilities. Full article
Open AccessArticle Religion as Play: Pentecostalism as a Theological Type
Religions 2018, 9(3), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9030080
Received: 12 February 2018 / Revised: 6 March 2018 / Accepted: 9 March 2018 / Published: 13 March 2018
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Abstract
This article suggests that Pentecostalism constitutes a genuine type of religion we can label as play. In order to identify the particular elements of this type, the article makes use of Erving Goffman’s frame analysis to organize Pentecostal theological activity. This methodological starting
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This article suggests that Pentecostalism constitutes a genuine type of religion we can label as play. In order to identify the particular elements of this type, the article makes use of Erving Goffman’s frame analysis to organize Pentecostal theological activity. This methodological starting point is followed by an overview of existing interpretations of Pentecostalism as a form of play. The main portion of this essay then constructs from an analysis of everyday experiences visible in Pentecostalism a primary framework of activities oriented around the transformative encounter with the Holy Spirit. The sequence of activity involves a primary and overlapping pattern of Pentecostal spirituality, experience, narrative, affections, practices, and embodiment. Demonstrating that play is not exclusive to Pentecostalism, but that Pentecostals manifest a particularly visible form, demands that greater attention is paid both to Pentecostalism as a religious tradition and to play as a theological model. Full article
Open AccessArticle George Jeffreys: Pentecostal and Contemporary Implications
Religions 2018, 9(2), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020060
Received: 19 January 2018 / Revised: 1 February 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 15 February 2018
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Abstract
The life and work of the Welsh evangelist George Jeffreys resulted in the planting of two denominations in the UK between 1915 and 1962, when he died. The Elim churches continue to this day to be one of the larger classical Pentecostal denominations
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The life and work of the Welsh evangelist George Jeffreys resulted in the planting of two denominations in the UK between 1915 and 1962, when he died. The Elim churches continue to this day to be one of the larger classical Pentecostal denominations in the UK, while the Bible Pattern Fellowship dispersed on Jeffreys’ death. The disputes that led to Jeffreys’ departure from Elim were said to have arisen from his adherence to British Israel doctrine, though his supporters believed they arose from his championing of local church ownership and democracy. This paper considers sociological and other reasons for Jeffreys’ remarkable success in the interwar years and his eventual departure from a denomination he founded. It concludes by reflecting on topics (such as the importance of debate and law) that have relevance for contemporary Pentecostalism. Full article
Open AccessArticle Impossible Subjects: LGBTIQ Experiences in Australian Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches
Religions 2018, 9(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020053
Received: 12 December 2017 / Revised: 20 January 2018 / Accepted: 7 February 2018 / Published: 9 February 2018
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Abstract
This paper is the product of in-depth interviews with 20 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ) people who identify, or formerly identified, as members of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christian (PCC) churches. Interviewees typically found themselves confronted with a number of choices (not necessarily
[...] Read more.
This paper is the product of in-depth interviews with 20 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ) people who identify, or formerly identified, as members of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christian (PCC) churches. Interviewees typically found themselves confronted with a number of choices (not necessarily mutually exclusive): remain closeted, come out but commit to remaining celibate, undergo “SOCE” (Sexual Orientation Conversion Efforts) therapy, or leave. Most left their churches, often after agonising attempts to reconcile their faith and their sexuality. Several of the practices adopted by Australian PCC churches exclude LGBTIQ people from full participation in their own congregations, rendering them “impossible subjects.” Australian Pentecostalism’s surprisingly egalitarian history, wherein the spiritually authorised ministry of women was both recognised and celebrated, suggests another, more inclusive way forward in regard to this vexed issue. Full article
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