Afro-Pentecostalism: Black Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in History and Culture

Afro-Pentecostalism: Black Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in History and Culture

Afro-Pentecostalism: Black Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in History and Culture

Afro-Pentecostalism: Black Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in History and Culture

Synopsis

In 2006, the contemporary American Pentecostal movement celebrated its 100th birthday. Over that time, its African American sector has been markedly influential, not only vis-a-vis other branches of Pentecostalism but also throughout the Christian church. Black Christians have been integrally involved in every aspect of the Pentecostal movement since its inception and have made significant contributions to its founding as well as the evolution of Pentecostal/charismatic styles of worship, preaching, music, engagement of social issues, and theology. Yet despite its being one of the fastest growing segments of the Black Church, Afro-Pentecostalism has not received the kind of critical attention it deserves.

Afro-Pentecostalism brings together fourteen interdisciplinary scholars to examine different facets of the movement, including its early history, issues of gender, relations with other black denominations, intersections with popular culture, and missionary activities, as well as the movement's distinctive theology. Bolstered by editorial introductions to each section, the chapters reflect on the state of the movement, chart its trajectories, discuss pertinent issues, and anticipate future developments.

Contributors: Estrelda Y. Alexander, Valerie C. Cooper, David D. Daniels III, Louis B. Gallien, Jr., Clarence E. Hardy III, Dale T. Irvin, Ogbu U. Kalu, Leonard Lovett, Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., Cheryl J. Sanders, Craig Scandrett-Leatherman, William C. Turner, Jr., Frederick L. Ware, and Amos Yong

Excerpt

African American Pentecostalism: Entering the Field

In 2006, the contemporary American Pentecostal movement passed a milestone, celebrating its one hundredth birthday. Over that time, its African American sector has been markedly influential, not only vis-à-vis other branches of Pentecostalism but also throughout the Christian church. Still, this segment of Pentecostalism has not received the kind of critical attention it has deserved. As a central contributor to historic Pentecostalism and as one of the fastest growing segments of the Black Church, the African American Pentecostal movement increasingly clamors for scholarly assessment.

Perhaps part of the reason for the neglect derives from overlooking African American agency at the origins of the movement. Even today, debates remain over who was at the forefront of the nascent modern Pentecostal movement—the white Charles Fox Parham, who is credited with laying its foundations by formulating its central doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit being accompanied with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues; the black William Seymour, the leader of the 1906 Azusa Street Revival to which many, if not most, American Pentecostal denominations trace their roots; or simply the Holy Spirit, who used a variety of personalities, events, and locations to bring about the advent of the movement. As Seymour’s founding role has been increasingly recognized, so has the role of many other African Americans in the ongoing development of modern Pentecostalism. After a century of expansion, from a movement once considered by many as a marginalized cult to one that has come to have far-reaching global influence throughout the church and society, we are now at the point at which the important contribution of African Americans cannot be overlooked. Throughout this relatively short period within Christian history, African . . .

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