Global Pentecostalism in the 21st Century

Global Pentecostalism in the 21st Century

Global Pentecostalism in the 21st Century

Global Pentecostalism in the 21st Century

Synopsis

This state-of-the-field overview of Pentecostalism around the world focuses on cultural developments among second- and third-generation adherents in regions with large Pentecostal communities, considering the impact of these developments on political participation, citizenship, gender relations, and economic morality. Leading scholars from anthropology, sociology, religious studies, and history present useful introductions to global issues and country-specific studies drawn from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the former USSR.

Excerpt

After its establishment by Peter L. Berger in 1985, one of the first research projects to which the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA) at Boston University turned was on the rise of Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity in Latin America. The project was directed by one of CURA’s earliest international partners, David Martin, a sociologist of religion at the London School of Economics and a leading scholar of modern religion and comparative Christianity. At the time, the secularization thesis reigned supreme in the social sciences, and many researchers were convinced that Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism were antimodern throwbacks destined to decline as societies became “modern.” David Martin and Peter Berger were convinced that something more complex was afoot, and that, rather than being antimodern, Pentecostalism might yet prove itself an alternative avenue to modernity. Their views were to prove prescient.

Fresh from almost a decade of anthropological research on religious change in Indonesia, I joined CURA in 1986, the first year of the Martin project and four years after finishing my Ph.D. Anthropology was the one among the social sciences in which secularization theory had never been securely hegemonic. Nonetheless, many of my friends in the discipline looked with a mixture of skepticism and bewilderment at the CURA project, not because they thought Pentecostalism antimodern, but because in those years (quite unlike today, see chapter 1) most anthropologists found global Christianity inauthentic and uninteresting. Complicating matters further, some of my colleagues thought that, to the degree that Pentecostal and Evangelical varieties of Christianities were taking hold in the global south, it was primarily as a result of an unholy alliance between fundamentalist Christians and the United States government.

Although at first projects like the one David Martin conducted for CURA inspired collegial doubts, then, CURA continued over the years to sponsor projects on Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity. In the mid-1980s, in the course of carrying out research on Islamization in East Java, Indonesia, I stumbled onto and studied a small network of Christian converts. Most were self-consciously Evangelical; in the 1990s, many split off to become Pentecostal, joining a wave of Pentecostal conversion sweeping across the minority margins of this Muslim-majority society, as well as portions of its Singaporean, Malaysian, and Philippine neighbors. CURA fellows continued their involvement with charismatic Christianity in other fields as well. In the . . .

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