Article

Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

In this history of the rise of pentecostalism in the United States, Grant Wacker gives an indepth account of the religious practices of pentecostal churches as well as an engaging picture of the way these beliefs played out in daily life. The core tenets of pentecostal belief - personal salvation, Holy Ghost baptism, divine healing, and anticipation of the Lord's imminent return - took root in the first quarter of the 20th century. Wacker examines the various aspects of pentecostal culture, including rituals, speaking in tongues, the authority of the Bible, the central role of Jesus in everyday life, the gifts of prophecy and healing, ideas about personal appearance, women's roles, race relations, attitudes toward politics and the government. Tracking the daily lives of pentecostals, and paying close attention to the voices of individual men and women, Wacker is able to identify the reason for the movement's spectacular success: a demonstrated ability to balance idealistic and pragmatic impulses, to adapt distinct religious convictions in order to meet the expectations of modern life.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... One of the most striking things about nascent Pentecostalism, both in the United States and in Australia, was its openness to the ministry of those excluded from leadership in other forms of faith. Perhaps the most celebrated pioneer of the movement was the African-American William Seymour, pastor of the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, California, when the congregation first experienced the "baptism in the Holy Spirit" in 1906 ( Wacker 2001;Hollenweger 1997). 11 Australian PCC's inclusive theological and ecclesiological foundations are rooted in a number of what Shane Clifton has referred to as "voluntarist" religious movements that emerged in the nineteenth century ( Clifton 2009). ...
... 13 It is also important not to paint too rosy a picture of Pentecostal acceptance of women in ministry. As Grant Wacker has pointed out, with reference to the American context, such "roseate portraits" can minimize the sociological and theological challenges many women had to negotiate in the early days of the movement ( Wacker 2001). ordination but spiritual experience, perceived to have its source in God's Holy Spirit ( Clifton 2009;Dayton 1987). ...
Article
Full-text available
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.
... Based on intratextual understanding, they do indeed cast out devils, speak with new tongues, and lay hands on the sick for healing, yet they do not discriminate against two other signs that also appear in this passage. Surely the more practiced signs are well-known markers of Pentecostalism in its effort to restore the apostolic church (Stephens 2008;Wacker 2003), but for "them that believe", the fundamentals of faith include all five signs of Mark 16. This empirical study has focused on the specific sign of taking up serpents and its fundamental beliefs-all of which are concerned with obedience to what is perceived as an explicit command of Jesus. ...
Article
Full-text available
In recent decades, scholars have increased their interest in studying fundamentalism among various religions and cultures. However, there has been no consensus to date on a useful definition for guiding research, which has inspired Pollack et al. (this issue) to offer a new one for consideration. In response, I present the case of Christian serpent handling sects, Holiness-Pentecostal groups that handle venomous serpents in worship services, as a unique example of American Protestant fundamentalism. In doing so, I provide a brief historical account of their appearance at the turn of the 20th century, their conflicts with the religious and larger cultures, and an empirical analysis of serpent handler interviews identifying four fundamental beliefs of the serpent handling truth. Finally, I relate this fundamentalist group to components of the new definition of fundamentalism offered by Pollack and colleagues.
... While Pentecostals share important theological and social similarities with other evangelicals, they are distinct enough to warrant their own position within evangelical Protestantism (Ammerman 1991). What most clearly distinguishes Pentecostals from other evangelical Protestants is their emphasis on Gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues (Wacker 2001;Woodberry and Smith 1998). The historical, social, and theological distinctiveness of Pentecostalism suggests that Pentecostals' beliefs, attitudes, and actions often differ from other evangelicals. ...
Article
Full-text available
Although Pentecostal Protestants are often included under the broad term “evangelical Protestant,” research suggests that Pentecostals are distinct from other evangelical Protestants in their religious and secular beliefs and activities. In this research note, we demonstrate the practicality and effectiveness of a religious classification that accounts for differences between affiliates of Pentecostal denominations and affiliates of other Protestant denominations. Analysis of nationally representative survey data shows that affiliates of evangelical Protestant and Pentecostal Protestant denominations differ in their levels of education, religious beliefs, attitudes on social issues, and political ideology. These differences are largely congruent with theoretical expectations of differences among Protestant subgroups. The classification of Pentecostal denominations presented in this research note is an important tool for researchers, which can be applied to a wide range of social scientific inquiries.
... Scholars use these terms with varying degrees of specificity. Some speak of three "waves": Pentecostalism, which emerged in Los Angeles in 1906 under the leadership of a man who had been inspired by a Kansas pastor (Anderson 1979;Wacker 2001); the Charismatic Catholic Revival (CCR), which is typically dated to a 1967 retreat at Duquesne University and which exploded in the 1970s (roughly one-fifth of all American Catholics describe themselves as "born again," which is usually taken to mean that they embrace some aspects of the CCR; Csordas 1994); and the "Third Wave" or "neo-Pentecostal" experientially oriented Protestant evangelical movement that emerged from the Jesus People movement and has shaped many churches (Luhrmann 2004;Paloma 2003;Springer and Wimber 1988). All "waves" interweave claims about biblical literalism and a conservative approach to biblical truth with an expectation that congregants will experience God directly in their bodies. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article argues that there is an epistemological style associated with much American evangelical Christianity that is strikingly different from that found in never-secular Christianities. This epistemological style is characterized by a playful, self-consciously paradoxical framing of belief-claims in which God’s reality is both clearly affirmed and qualified. One can describe this style as using an “epistemological double register” in which God is described as very real—and as doubted, in some way. The representation of God generated by this complex style is a magically real or hyper-real God, both more real than everyday reality and in some way fictive. The article goes on to argue that these epistemological features can be understood as generated by and generative of particular theories of mind. The article argues for the development of an anthropological theory of mind in which at least four dimensions are important: boundedness, interiority, sensorium, and epistemic stance.
... Amid swirling controversy, North American and European radical evangelicals anticipated that the "signs and wonders," which had accompanied gospel proclamation after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (the "former rain"), would now be restored in the final end-times outpouring (the "latter rain"), just prior to the close of human history. 38 Partially influencing the course of later premillennial mission strategists, Anthony Norris Groves, the patron saint of Christian Brethren missions, echoed Irving's call for a return to the apostolic methods of the New Testament. 39 The appeal to passages like Matt. ...
Article
We in the Pentecostal and charismatic traditions are rightly concerned about the apostolic nature of ministry. Unfortunately the adjective, "apostolic," having been painted crudely on so many storefronts and run-down gathering places, may now seem quaint, naïve, even irrelevant—the nomenclature of a few uneducated faithful far from the centers of influence and bypassed by a more sophisticated Christianity. However, we recoil from the term at our own peril. Apostolic power and ministry are deeply embedded in the Christian tradition. Jesus himself is the Chief Apostle (Heb. 3:1) and he commissioned twelve disciples as apostles (Mk. 3:14). Finally, he breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit and sent them out to make disciples of all the world (Jn. 20:21-22; Mt. 28:16-20). These twelve apostles and a handful of others so designated were at the center (Acts 8:14) and, not uncommonly, the cutting edges (Acts 10:24-47; 13:3) of the powerful first-century advance of the gospel. They were said to have turned the world "upside down" (Acts 17:6; KJV, NRSV). Apostolic power was understood to be the power of the Triune God manifested through the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in first-generation apostles and their ministry colleagues who faithfully bore witness to Jesus Christ.
... Classical Pentecostals date their origins to a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the turn of the twentieth century. First generation Pentecostals strived for primitivism, that is, a restoration of the first century church particularly as described in the book of Acts (Wacker, 2001). As the Apostle Peter announced that the events on the Day of Pentecost fulfilled Joel's prophecy (Acts 2: 16-18), contemporary Pentecostals anticipate ongoing fulfillment. ...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we explored an empirical basis for several dimensions of interpersonal love. From a psychological perspective, we considered multidimensional components of love using a holistic rubric that includes spiritual, cognitive, behavioral, affective, biological, and social space dimensions. From a theological perspective, we considered the traditional basis for understanding love of God and love of others in Christian communities with a special focus on early and contemporary Pentecostal beliefs and practices. Finally, we suggest ideas for further research and clinical practice.
... Seligman et al., 2008). Many contemporary Pentecostal communities are remarkably individualistic when it comes to interpersonal authority, even as their readings of religious texts remain highly "conservative" (Wacker, 2009). And, of course, these distinctions cover only broad swathes of one tradition, Christianity; in other traditions, moral intuitions may also manifest in unpredictable ideological configurations. ...
Article
Full-text available
The Multidimensional Religious Ideology (MRI) scale is a new 43-item measure that quantifies conservative versus liberal aspects of religious ideology. The MRI focuses on recurring features of ideology rooted in innate moral instincts while capturing salient differences in the ideological profiles of distinct groups and individuals. The MRI highlights how religious ideology differs from political ideology while maintaining a robust grounding in the social psychology of ideology generally. Featuring three major dimensions (religious beliefs, religious practices, and religious morality) and eight subdimensions, the MRI is sensitive enough to generate novel insights into religious ideology across demographic groups and individual differences. The MRI is also summative, yielding a single quantitative measurement of left–right religious ideology with good scale and test–retest reliability. Analysis of 839 respondents across two studies confirmed the widespread assumption that religious ideology is a parallel construct to political ideology, emerging from similar foundations but following a distinct set of rules. The MRI shows the importance of conceptualizing ideology in ways that access the full spectrum of real-world ideological convictions—an important reminder, given the salience of religious factors for influencing ideology generally.
Article
Full-text available
For the first time since its inception, the Congregação Cristã no Brasil (CCB) has lost members - two hundred thousand members in the last decade - while other traditional Pentecostal churches' membership continue to grow. Based on survey research data, this study explores the diverse views of church members and how institutional factors affect the growth of the church. Two opposing views among church members are identified: fundamentalism and progressivism. Besides providing empirical data, this work engages a wider debate on how the strict nature of the CCB leadership, based on a traditional authoritarian model, is unwilling to adapt to cultural and social changes, giving rise to discontent, tensions, and schisms.
Chapter
This chapter surveys some of the characteristics that contribute to the development of a distinctive Latino Protestant ecclesiology that emerges out of the lived experiences of Latino/a Protestants/evangélicos in the United States. While first reviewing the nature of ecclesiology and the self-identity of U.S. Latino/a Protestants, the characteristics then reviewed include the presence of God in daily life, the importance of the Word, life as familia/family, worship, and the re-imagining of ministry.
Article
Evangelical IdentityEvangelical EcumenismEvangelical ReformEvangelical CountercultureEvangelical PoliticsBibliography
Article
1901–1940s: Pentecostals, African American New Religions, and Proto-Deprivation ScholarshipThe 1950s–early 1970s: Theorizing Deprivations and “Turning East”The Late 1970s and 1980s: “Cult Controversies” and New Religion Scholarship1980s to present: New Movements, New Academic Questions, and Future TrajectoriesBibliography
Article
The Holiness MovementPentecostalismBibliography
Article
Full-text available
This article aims to compare and analyse two different perspectives of pneumatology: within the Pentecostal and the Evangelical perspective. In spite of many doctrinal tangents with the Evangelical theology, the Pentecostal has its own spirituality and theological accent, especially in the field of pneumatology. The two differences centre on baptism in the Spirit and the gift of prophecy. From a Pentecostal practical perspective, the spiritual gifts continue to play an important role for the contemporary church. Although there are differences in their theological approaches, the Pentecostals and the Evangelicals found the common ground in forming the Evangelical Alliance of Romania and working together for about a quarter of Century.
Article
El siguiente documento es sometido como un "Documento de Estudio", y será provisto a nuestros Presbíteros Internacionales tanto en forma impresa como electrónica. El documento estará disponible en la Internet para que todos los ministros y miembros lo descarguen a partir de la fecha de la presentación del informe del Comité de Doctrina Bíblica y Gobierno ante la Asamblea Internacional de 2012. Esta versión extensa es sólo para fines de estudio. La entrega final será grandemente condensada, ajustada y editada después de que los constituyentes de la Iglesia de Dios de la Profecía hayan tenido suficiente tiempo para revisarla y responder. El documento final tendrá entonces cualquier recomendación que se determine ser necesaria. El documento final será sometido no menos de un año antes de la Asamblea Internacional de 2014. Agradecemos especialmente a nuestro Supervisor General y a los Presbíteros Generales, quienes han sido consejeros leales para con nuestro trabajo y deliberaciones. En adición, queremos animar a nuestros constituyentes a que hagan saber al comité cualquier opinión o estudio adicional que se deba considerar. Sólo tras completarse este procedimiento se habrá de presentar un documento final con recomendaciones (de ser necesarias) a la Asamblea Internacional de 2014. Gracias por la oportunidad de servir a esta iglesia; sinceramente deseamos sus oraciones constantes.
Article
Full-text available
The idea that William Seymour's Azusa Street Mission served as the isolated source of Pentecostal origination remains the dominant view among both Pentecostals and academics in the United States. In this article, I compare this well-known narrative of Pentecostal origins with the accounts of two lesser-known early missions that also contributed to the emergence of Pentecostalism: the Hebden Mission in Toronto, Canada and the Mukti Mission in Kedgaon, India. I argue that even a brief evaluation of these historical narratives (1) reveals that there was not anything particularly novel about the religious experiences described by the early participants of the Azusa Street Mission, and, therefore, (2) best supports a polygenetical rather than a monogenetical theory of Pentecostal origins. I conclude by offering some nascent suggestions for why a monogenetical theory of Pentecostal origination was so attractive to both early Pentecostal adherents and historians alike, despite the availability of evidence to the contrary.
Article
Pentecostalism has ‘bucked the trend’ predicted by Émile Durkheim and others that religion would decline and disappear in a secular modern age. In searching for the clues as to why this happened, this paper outlines Durkheim’s thought on the phenomenon that sparks religious life - effervescence - and his belief that in the secular future societies would make use of this phenomenon to create instances of ‘secular sacralisation’. Following these ideas, the author traces the development of Pentecostalism, a religious phenomenon that has harnessed the power of effervescence and grown explosively in the ‘secular’ age. Thus, Pentecostalism has appropriated (in part) the role that Durkheim believed society itself would have to fill in a future, secular age, and has reinforced the link between effervescent experience and a transcendent divine entity.
Article
Full-text available
Some scholars claim that in the new century Pentecostalism will adapt to modernity thereby continuing its growth across many cultures and societies. By comparing the appeal of Pentecostalism in its original manifestation during the early nineteenth century in America with the appeal of its most vibrant contemporary expression in Latin America, one can ask whether Pentecostalism has widened its appeal to include a Postindustrial audience. It is concluded that Pentecostalism will not adapt to modernity, because it remains a movement against modernity. Pentecostalism’s appeal lies in its ability to provide a theodicy utilized by those who oppose the infringement of modern ideology upon their own ways of life, namely the working poor and conservative traditionalists.
Article
Due to its vast geographic and numerical expansion, pentecostalism exhibits many of the contextual complexities of a global religious tradition. Therefore, the topic ‘pentecostal theology’ can easily succumb to death by a thousand qualifications. At the same time, there are concrete historical developments and sufficient theological commonalities that allow for a survey that does not underestimate the many variations of pentecostal theology. First, I trace the developments of the ‘three waves’ of pentecostalism. I briefly discuss some of their respective major figures and theological emphases. While the term ‘three waves’ has become a standard designation for recounting the phases of pentecostal history and theology, the rise of academic theology within first-wave pentecostalism defies some of the schema’s categorizations. Therefore, I, second, trace this turn to academic theology. From their early creation of Bible schools to their more recent attainment of advanced training in religious studies, first-wave pentecostals demonstrate an increasing interest in obtaining terminal theological training. Some of the most recent of these scholars are the first within first-wave pentecostalism to take up systematic/constructive theology. While they have produced a significant amount of literature since the beginning of the 1990s, they have yet to receive extensive scholarly assessment. Therefore, I, third, introduce some major pentecostal systematic/constructive theologians.
Article
This article examines how radical evangelicals employed psychological concepts such as sanity, temperament, and especially the subconscious as they struggled to understand and respond to the rapidly expanding pentecostal movement within their midst. By tracing the growing tensions over ecstatic spiritual experiences that emerged among Holiness and Higher Life believers during the 1880s and 1890s, this article demonstrates that differing assumptions about the importance of consciousness for the religious life presaged reactions to the pentecostal revivals of the early twentieth century. Although their proclivity for rational judgment predisposed Higher Life evangelicals to question the sanity of involuntary phenomena such as speaking in tongues, some prominent leaders within this community appealed to "mental science" in an effort to revise conventional understandings of the spiritual self and its capacities. For participants in the Christian and Missionary Alliance—an organization in which disputes over the propriety of pentecostalism were particularly contentious—notions of temperament and the subconscious articulated in the works of "new psychologists" like William James offered resources for reassessing Higher Life views of authentic spirituality in light of pentecostal revivalism. By analyzing how a particular faction within the radical evangelical movement made use of psychological theories to contend with the challenge of the revivals at Azusa and elsewhere, this article exposes some of the social divisions that exacerbated debates over the validity of pentecostal religious experiences. Exploring the complicated interactions and creative tensions that arose as Higher Life evangelicals appropriated constructs such as the subconscious in the wake of Azusa Street also shows that this influential contingent of conservative Protestants engaged with aspects of the field of psychology in dynamic and inventive ways that involved both selective borrowing and critical resistance. While there is truth in the common observation that radical evangelicals were deeply suspicious of the "new science of Psychology," this article uncovers a more complex history that expands our understanding of the interplay among scientific discourse, the varieties of evangelical spiritual experience, and the emergence of pentecostalism in the early twentieth century.
Article
What role does organized religion play in the life of the American campus? Among both scholarly and popular observers, the university has long been regarded as secular territory. Contrary to the .cphsecularization thesis, the history of campus religion is not a declension narrative. This essay provides an overview of the student religious landscape in America, focusing most of its attention on schools that are not affiliated with a religious tradition. It identifies six signs of religious vitality on campus: 1) the expansion of evangelicalism; 2) the revitalization of Catholic student organizations; 3) the reinvention of campus Judaism; 4) the growth of new immigrant and alternative religions; 5) the beginnings of renewal in mainline Protestant campus ministries; 6) the embrace of spirituality by student affairs professionals. Noting several recent studies on education and religiosity, it concludes that college is not especially damaging to religious commitment.
Article
Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944), itinerant revivalist and founder of Angelus Temple, established a popular and notorious preaching career that attracted devoted followers and outspoken critics in seemingly equal measure. This essay suggests that popular critiques of McPherson—which came from rival clergy, prominent journalists, and vocal atheists—can best be understood as a manifestation of popular anxiety over gendered styles of Christianity. McPherson adopted and adapted the evangelical revival rhetorical style, known for the femininity of its emotional and embodied performances, and she innovated feminized personae including the servant and the bride. Her critics took issue with this feminized rhetorical style, which had fallen rapidly into disfavor over the preceding decades. The exchange between McPherson and her critics illuminates the backlash against feminized Christianity as it also highlights the dangers of associating femininity with emotions and appearances.
Chapter
The relationship between religion and education has been at the heart of numerous cultural conflicts in the United States. Struggles over educational institutions have in many ways defined the relation of religious groups to U.S. public life. The orientation of Mainline Protestantism to public life in the early to mid-20th century was reflected in their active support for a general Protestant ethos within the public schools (Handy, 1967). Many conservative Protestants define the boundary between themselves and dominant trends in U.S. culture through their interpretation of cultural conflict in the public schools (Sikkink & Smith, 2000). In his well-known work on “culture wars,” James Hunter (1991) argued that education was a crucial front in the battle of orthodox and progressive ways of knowing. Progressive views of truth, which see morality as unfolding rather than fixed, lie behind an emphasis in secular educational institutions on child-centered education, and this perspective is at war with traditional views of absolute morality (Hunter, 2000; Nolan, 1998). This shift increases the tendency of conservative religious groups to frame their relation to dominant American culture in terms of a cultural conflict over schooling institutions.
Article
The Catholic Church has been making saints for centuries in the two-stage process of beatification and canonization. We analyse determinants of numbers beatified and canonized (non-martyrs) since 1590 across seven world regions. The number beatified is roughly proportional to a pope's tenure and a region's Catholic population, responds positively since the early 20th century to Catholic–Protestant competition and to secularization, and falls after the virtual ending of warfare between European Catholics and Protestants with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. There is bias in favour of Italy, then Other Western Europe and Eastern Europe countries, and against Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America. The number canonized rises with the stock of beatifieds not yet canonized, rises with Catholic–Protestant competition, and drops after the Peace of Westphalia. Regional bias is minor for canonization, given stocks of beatifieds. The last two popes before Francis, John Paul II and Benedict XVI are large positive outliers in numbers beatified, and John Paul II is also an outlier for numbers canonized.
Chapter
The Pentecostal worldview is an amalgam of pragmatism, a rather literal biblical hermeneutic, anti-traditionalism, and an impulse toward apostolic restorationism. Each of these features has contributed toward a Pentecostal aesthetic. Most early 20th century Pentecostal congregations were comprised of people from the lower and middle classes. This meant that their financial resources were limited to pragmatic concerns (e.g. supporting the minister, paying the church mortgage, funding missionaries), so that things like art and architecture were barely on the horizon of their thinking. Biblical literalism led them to believe that aesthetics and art were secondary concerns at best. After all, the New Testament does not immediately testify to any early Christian aesthetic. And for its part, the Old Testament prohibitions of idolatry apparently precluded any serious aesthetic reflection; this characteristic the Pentecostals share with other low-church, free-church Protestants.
Thesis
Early North American Pentecostals allowed women to engage in a wide spectrum of spiritual leadership activities, including the public preaching and teaching of Scripture when men were present in the audience. My review of all of their extant newspapers (1906-1908) led me to conclude that the right of women to minister in these ways was so widely considered to be a desirable and godly form of praxis that the authors and editors of these journals did not feel any particular need to defend or explain their position. This was the result of several factors: First, experiential evidence of the Holy Spirit’s sovereign gifting carried tremendous weight as Pentecostals evaluated all manner of manifestations and issues, including questions pertaining to biblically appropriate female empowerment. Second, understanding the mechanics of embodied Spirit fulness and gifting as something more akin to actual Spirit possession than to mere Spirit influence confirmed and strengthened Early North American Pentecostal belief that God had clearly chosen to empower women for ministry functions. Third, the initial perception of gender-inclusive xenolalia as a God-given means for missionaries to overcome linguistic barriers to the communication of the Gospel was taken as added proof that women could be called to preach. Fourth, the widespread conviction that the Pentecostal movement was the fulfillment of Joel’s end-time prophecy pre- disposed early North American Pentecostals towards gender-inclusive ministry and provided them with an identity framework that linked all of the above factors together in a synergistic relationship. These realities were undergirded by a pneumatologically-centered hermeneutical method that accorded great value to legitimate spiritual experience, both externally in the acts of God in human history and internally through supernatural illumination of the human mind and spirit during the consideration of the biblical text. The pattern within the early North American Pentecostal newspapers and the interpretive models advanced by both Archer and Thomas parallel the approach taken by the Early Church in its evangelistic efforts and are supremely biblical. Simply put, the faith of the first Christian disciples and the Gospel they preached were grounded in historical events rather than in concepts or ideas. At its heart were the narratives of human experience connected to the birth, life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. These experiential testimonies carried such weight in early Christian thinking that it caused them to reevaluate and, in some instances, totally change the way they viewed the Hebrew Scriptures. They wrote the New Testament in order to document, understand, defend, and ultimately communicate these experiential truths. Since their faith flowed out of and rested upon a foundation of experience, it is not surprising that experience also weighed heavily in their hermeneutical thought processes, including during the Council at Jerusalem. Similarly, when the earliest North American Pentecostals became convinced that the risen Christ was deliberately and actively pouring out the Holy Spirit upon them, distributing gifts as a function of His divine prerogative, this profoundly informed the way they viewed and interpreted the Scriptures relative to the question of women in ministry and leadership.
Article
Full-text available
Scholars, activists and others increasingly acknowledge that religion—whether conceived in terms of ideas, rituals or institutions—can help us cope with climate change and make sense of extreme weather events. Churches provide moral lessons in times of crisis, they spread awareness of climate change and, through community ritual, religious institutions can nurture a sense of collective responsibility. Much has been written on how contemporary faith groups have understood and acted on climate change and extreme weather events. Yet this literature is often not historically rooted and makes only superficial reference to the complex relationships between climate, extreme weather and religion in the past. Without an historical awareness we cannot understand the extent to which present‐day religious discourses on the environment—from those articulated by “greener faith” advocates to fundamentalist skeptics—connect with how past societies understood climate and, more specifically, extreme weather events. A survey of the literature on Christian responses to extreme weather events, whether these be slow disasters (droughts) or isolated events (storms), suggests that histories that emphasize ruptures in attitudes to the natural world are problematic. Extreme weather events have long been regarded as omens and signs, and as divine judgments on sin. It is still thought that weather disturbances reflect disorders in human society. This literature survey introduces these continuities in Christian responses to extreme weather by ranging broadly across the English‐speaking world from early modernity, though special attention is given to current work on Anglophone settler societies. This article is categorized under: • Climate, History, Society, Culture > Ideas and Knowledge
Article
When Oneness Pentecostals branched off in the 1910s, they began to create a version of Pentecostalism that was marked by a theology that rejected Trinitarianism, or the concept of a triune Godhead, and assumed a different trajectory over the past century. This new wave of Pentecostalism was marked by debates over further doctrinal issues, racial boundaries, and gender roles. This article provides a historical overview of the themes emerging from and approaches taken in the writings on Oneness Pentecostalism in the United States.
Article
Social science has long operated under the assumption that enchantment, seeking out this-worldly manifestations of the supernatural, impedes the cultivation of self-discipline. How, then, to account for a Christian brotherhood whose testimonial practice is at once enchanting and disciplining of the self? In this article, I define self-discipline in terms of its distinctly reflexive (self-aimed and self-governed) and methodical (systematic and auto-regenerative) character, and in doing so, I disentangle the concept from rational calculation as one (among other possible) means of disciplining the self. I draw on Ricoeur’s theory of personal identity to theorize a relationship of the self whose reflexive and methodical character is found not in rational calculation but in arational narration. I then show how the testimonial practice of a charismatic Christian businessmen’s brotherhood is disciplining of the self insofar as it is enchanting, how the practice is methodical and reflexive because it is one of arational narration.
Chapter
Two overarching themes guide current research in the history of Christianity. First, the geographical range of Christianity has expanded. New churches around the globe and old churches in places new to western scholarly attention are being studied and are telling their own histories. Historiography will itself expand and change as these stories are incorporated into the overall history of Christianity. Second, new interests are complexifying standard narratives. Scholars are becoming increasingly aware of the diversities that exist and have existed among those who identify themselves as Christians. Minority traditions and the history of groups not previously included are receiving focused attention. Studies of “lived religion” proliferate. Within these themes, methodological diversity is embraced as historians stress the multiple layers of interaction shaping lives of faith.
Chapter
In the span of a century, Pentecostalism grew from scattered bands of revival seekers to a global movement of over 500 million that comprises nearly one-third of Christians worldwide. Pentecostals have established over 700 denominations and have members in every traditional Christian church and tradition. During this time the face of Pentecostalism has changed from white to Asian, Latino, and African and it has decentralized from North America to Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The present essay describes the central developmental periods of Pentecostalism, the scholarly interpretations of its origins, and the history of its scholarship.
Article
Though some headway has been made in research into the transnational nature of immigrant Pentecostal communities, most of this research has taken place within a European and African context. A synthesis of this research produces four ‘tensions’ that are typical in approaching these transnational communities: global versus local identities; reverse-mission rhetoric versus asylum reality; ascetic versus prosperity ethics; and integrative aims versus marginal locations. This ethnographic study of five immigrant Pentecostal communities in the inner core of Boston identifies that these four tensions are useful for understanding these communities in the context of the United States, albeit with some modification. Additionally, the article concludes by offering an additional tension that should be considered in the study of transnational Pentecostal communities.
Chapter
Although fundamentalists may have agreed that the intellectual pretensions of their opponents were preposterous, they often had a difficult time on agreeing to much more. In the first few years of the 1920s, both fundamentalists and the wider public struggled to understand the new movement. No less than later historians did, fundamentalists and their contemporaries often disagreed about what fundamentalism meant. Some leading fundamentalists attempted to assert a definition on the movement unilaterally. Other leaders avoided using the term. And many contemporaries used the term to refer to a broad assortment of conservative trends in politics, culture, and religion. As one Baptist editor complained in 1923, “Millions of people have been confused by this controversy.”1
Chapter
For six centuries, North America has been an entrepot of global Christianity where different forms of Christianity have arrived, mingled, shaped, and redistributed. Christianity has played a major role in North American history because millions of people have relied on it to stabilize their environments, and to manage and create change. Through evolving patterns of subjectivity, work, community formation, and material culture, North Americans have employed Christianity to develop influential forms of modern individualism, democracy, and capitalism, enabling Christianity to operate as a carrier of these trends throughout the continent, and from this continent to other parts of the world.
Chapter
The opportunity for women's ministry in Pentecostalism has a twofold basis. First, Pentecostals believe the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost initiated an eschatological season of empowerment for ministry. Foundational to the Pentecostal worldview is Acts 2:17–18, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy … yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (italics for emphasis). The Lukan text itself thus secures and promotes women's ministry. Second, Pentecostals, having their historical foundations in late 19th century American culture, are consistently very pragmatic. They evince a “whatever it takes” kind of attitude in their service and mission. Everyone is called to participate in Christ's great commission. Indeed, this “get it done” mentality working in concert with an expectation of the imminent return of Christ saw women outnumbering men in Pentecostal foreign missions work in the first several decades of the 20th century. These women missionaries made astounding sacrifices. Many sold all their possessions and forsook the comforts of western civilization to go to countries where they did not speak the local language, all in order to present the gospel in the power of the Spirit.
Chapter
Revivals are movements of Christian religious renewal that are generated by the Holy Spirit, accompanied by the powerful preaching of zealous ministers, and result in the personal conversions of numerous individuals to the Christian faith and their subsequent incorporation into the Christian community. Revival usually involves a widespread increase of intense concern in the claims of Christianity and an emphasis on “heart religion” or the individual internalization of Christian truths. The term “revival” is closely related to “awakening,” the latter term usually referring to a revival that is far more extensive. “Revivalism” often refers to the systematic practice of expecting and even planning for a revival. A “revivalist” is generally a leader of a revival, such as a pastor or itinerant preacher. Revivals have been a prominent feature of evangelical Protestantism since the 18th century and as such their adherents have generally emphasized the following: an experienced, spiritual conversion as the beginning of the Christian life (rather than baptism or merely being raised a Christian); a pious, warm-hearted “relationship with God” grounded in the cross and focused on the scriptures (rather than sacramental, moraistic, or “nominal” approaches to Christianity); and a desire to spread the Christian message abroad through evangelism, missions, and social reform.
Article
In most contemporary societies the relationship between religion and education weighs heavily on the general relation of religion and society. Understanding the multifaceted relationship between religion and the social institution of education provides an important window on the place of religion in society. In attempting to shed light on these relationships, we consider in this review cultural conflict over educational institutions, and the influence of religion in educational attainment. We also review what is known about religious schools at the secondary and postsecondary level. The remaining sections consider the influence of education on religion, touching on issues of secularization, and reviewing cross-national studies of religion and education.
Chapter
This chapter examines the heart of Pentecostal pastoral authority—preaching performance. Woodworth-Etter and McPherson’s worship spaces and personal appearances gave skeptics and followers alike impressive signals of womanliness and ministerial authority, but the bodily acts1 performed within them in the form of revivalist preaching were what made them sacred vessels of the ministers’ messages. These “spatial practices—the ‘techniques of the body’, the formalized ‘gestures of approach’, and the location and direction of embodied movement—all contribute[d] towards producing the distinctive quality of sacred space,” in Woodworth-Etter and McPherson’s revivalist meeting places.2
Chapter
This chapter considers men, masculinity, and charismatic authority among Pentecostal Christians in the Dominican Republic. Above is a selection from the conversion narrative of someone I call Juan Carlos. Limited space here prevents me from detailing his testimony in its entirety, but what I have included are particulars that have become commonplace in the conversion narratives of Pentecostal men in urban barrios throughout the country.1 Through these testimonies Juan Carlos and others like him claim a certain type of authority and male prestige that are critical, I propose, to the ways in which he and other male converts legitimate their transformation in Christ and shape their new identities as Christian leaders and as men of God.
Chapter
Full-text available
Religious orientations do not come into the world fully formed, nor are they developed apart from broader economic and social structures. “Word of Faith” or “prosperity theology” therefore has a historical dimension. Specifically, prosperity theology developed amid the progressive globalization of modern capitalism. Correspondingly, human beings cannot sidestep the effect of broader social structures. Macrosocietal developments shape the microintimate contours of human subjectivity (as history impacts the formation of our “selves”). By connecting these two insights, I suggest that prosperity theology resonates with people today because of the effect of globalized capitalism on everyday life. In particular, an individual-affirming faith— one that positively sanctions individual merit, prominence, and renown—is necessary because workplace survival in today’s economic context requires an aggressive promotion of the self. Throughout this chapter, I consider the connection between prosperity theology and the contemporary demands on the modern self through a case study of a Hollywood church that orients its ministry toward workers in the entertainment industry.
Chapter
I wish to thank the editors Katherine Attanasi and Amos Yong as well as the other authors of this volume for presenting a very interesting and informative guide to so-called prosperity theology. I enjoyed reading each and every one of the chapters, though my response cannot mention them all due to the requirements of brevity. The question that would preoccupy many Christian theologians who discuss the prosperity message has to do with whether it is a valid contextualization of the gospel. If not, is it a syncretistic accommodation to an alien doctrine and ethical commitment that are at odds with the gospel of Christ? Such questions call for theological discernment, which, as with most cases of discernment, must be done carefully and charitably, with the possibility in mind that new movements can emerge among the churches that offer a novel way of contextualizing the gospel while still remaining essentially true to it. Such a possibility is the central focus of this theological evaluation of the prosperity message.
Chapter
In its formative years during the early 1900s, American Pentecostalism was, according to many historians, audaciously interracial. Largely because it did not appear to have begun as an exclusively black phenomenon, its inclusion among African diasporic religions has not been universally recognized. Nevertheless, comparative study of the performative elements of early American Pentecostalism confirms the rationale for placing it squarely within the lineage of African-derived expressive traditions (Murphey 1994; Raboteau 1978; Tinney 1978; Lovett 1975; Hurston 1981). In addition to the complexity of its origins, Pentecostalism achieved near ubiquity within Western culture and, during the last thirty years, globally; indeed, it claims about 150 million adherents worldwide. To understand how an African-derived religion contributed so significantly to the shaping of the late modern world we must expand the meaning and analytic value of diaspora. That, in brief, is the work I propose to do in this chapter.
Article
Pentecostalism first appeared as a global movement, built with both modern and antimodern materials provided by the American holiness missionary movement. On the anti-modern side, radical holiness spirituality and theology infused the worldviews of its advocates with supernaturalism, primitivism, and an apocalyptic eschatology. It resisted modern trends toward systematization, bureaucratization, and centralized control. Furthermore, radical holiness minimized the significance of modern categories of nation, ethnicity, race, and civilization. On the other side, radical holiness depended on the modern disintegration of traditional religious deference, used modern techniques for promoting audience-driven or democratized patterns of authority, and effectively equipped its followers for the pragmatic methodologies of modernity by skillfully making use of transportation networks, fund-raising techniques, and mass media to reach large audiences. American holiness missionaries carried these characteristics overseas, where non-American advocates adapted them to their particular circumstances. Both American and non-American adherents promoted radical holiness in ways that confounded reigning categories of identity, power relations, and conceptions of East and West. Radical holiness granted religious authority to Chinese men, Indian girls, spirit-filled Zulus, working-class Chileans, female evangelists, and African-American leaders, as well as white American males, without consciously mobilizing its followers along lines of national, ethnic, gendered, racial, or class identity. It demanded that its followers leave "heathenism," but it did so without utilizing the imperialist era discourse of civilization that upheld western cultural superiority and non-western cultural inferiority. In terms of its national or racial characteristics, then, early leaders from diverse backgrounds used tools from the American holiness movement to bring a non-American movement, world Pentecostalism, into existence.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.