Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement

Article excerpt

Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement D.E. Miller and T. Yamamori. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

Miller and Yamamori characterize Pentecostals as Christians who respond to what they perceive to be the leading of the Holy Spirit, engage in warm expressive worship, emphasize lay ministry, and, until recently, stressed the saving souls over other types of ministry. Writing as social scientists, they provide an excellent description of the recent integration of social ministries aimed at serving the poor into the central activities of Pentecostal churches in Africa, Asia, and South America. Consistent with their social science perspective, they say relatively little about Pentecostal theology.

Miller and Yamamori describe not only the worship services, social ministries, but also the organization, and growth of indigenous Pentecostal churches on these three continents. Their account is based on observations and interviews conducted on-site over a four-year period. They supplemented the text with a CD containing several short videos that effectively convey the sights, sounds, and intensity of Pentecostal worship as well as the sincerity and scope of Pentecostal social ministries. Although they wrote from the perspective of the social sciences, their investigating and reporting procedures have more in common with journalism than with qualitative or quantitative research methods.

At frequent intervals Miller and Yamamori explain how they tried to contain the influence of their roots within mainline American Protestantism and maintain the objectivity of social science researchers. Although, they appear to have been successful in maintaining that objectivity, it appears that they made one decision about the sample for their study that imposes two notable limitations on their work. …