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Practicing the Faith

Practicing the Faith: The Ritual Life of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians

Edited by Martin Lindhardt
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Practicing the Faith
    Book Description:

    Over the past decades, Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity has arguably become the fastest growing religious movement in the world. Distinguishing features of this variant of Christianity include formal ritual activities as well as informal, experiential, and ecstatic forms of worship. This book examines Pentecostal-charismatic ritual practice in different parts of the world, highlighting, among other things, the crucial role of ritual in creating religious communities and identities.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-048-7
    Subjects: Anthropology, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-48)
    Martin Lindhardt

    Over the past thirty to forty years, Pentecostalism and charismatic revivalism within mainline Protestant churches and the Catholic church have proved to be the fastest growing religious movement in the world. This movement is characterized by an emphasis on the continuous manifestations and gifts of the Holy Spirit (the charismata),¹ on personal salvation, the immanent return of Christ, and not least by high degrees of ritual activity.

    The worldwide growth and expansion of this form of Christianity has been paralleled within the last two decades by a significant growth in academic literature on the topic, fueling existing critiques of classical...

  4. 1 The Obvious Aspects of Pentecostalism: Ritual and Pentecostal Globalization
    (pp. 49-67)
    Joel Robbins

    The title of this chapter alludes to Rappaport’s (1979) seminal essay, “The Obvious Aspects of Ritual,” a lengthy article containing many of the ideas that two decades later would form the backbone of his important bookRitual and Religion in the Making of Humanity(1999). Rappaport begins that article by stating:

    This essay is not about the symbols of which human rituals are made, nor yet about the entities, ideas, or processes—physical, psychic, social, natural, or cosmic—that these symbols may represent. It is concerned with the obvious rather than the hidden aspects of ritual, those of its features...

  5. 2 Laying Our Sins and Sorrows on the Altar: Ritualizing Catholic Charismatic Reconciliation and Healing in Fiji
    (pp. 68-97)
    Jacqueline Ryle

    In 2003, a visiting Roman Catholic Charismatic priest from Kerala, South India, conducted over fifty healing services in overflowingly full churches in almost every Catholic parish in Fiji, as well as a handful of services in Anglican parishes and one in a Methodist church.²

    Commenting on a talk Fr. Thomas gave on his healing ministry at the Catholic seminary in the capital of Suva (3 September 2003), a seminarian complained about how churches were always far fuller during healing services than for ordinary masses. This must be due, he surmised, to people’s lack of understanding and lack of depth of...

  6. 3 Healing and Redomestication: Reconstitution of the Feminine Self in South Korean Evangelical Cell Group Ritual Practices
    (pp. 98-128)
    Kelly H. Chong

    In the latter half of the twentieth century, South Korea has become home to one of the most vibrant Pentecostal—and Christian charismatic—movements in the world. By the 1980s, churches that identified themselves as Pentecostal have become, after Presbyterianism and Methodism, the third largest Protestant group in South Korea;¹ the most well known of these Pentecostal churches is the Yoido Full Gospel Church (affiliated with Assemblies of God) established and led by Pastor Cho (Paul) Yonggi in Seoul, considered to be one of the largest Protestant churches in the world with members estimated to be somewhere near a half...

  7. 4 Ritualization of Life
    (pp. 129-151)
    Thomas J. Csordas

    The most compelling aspect of Charismatic and Pentecostal ritual is not its repertoire of specific ritual practices such as speaking in tongues, laying on of hands, or resting in the Spirit. It is not the inventory of ritual events such as prayer meetings, healing services, or revival meetings. Neither is it the integrated system of ritual language genres including prophecy, prayer, teaching, and witnessing. What is most compelling is the manner in which ritual performance has the potential, for individuals and communities, to bring about the transformation of everyday life, to generate a new habitus, indeed to subsume quotidian practices...

  8. 5 Adventure and Atrophy in a Charismatic Movement: Returning to the “Toronto Blessing”
    (pp. 152-178)
    Martyn Percy

    Dating from 1994, the “Toronto Blessing” is the name for a phenomenon that is associated with the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. From its very foundation, the Vineyard Christian Church in Toronto had experienced many of the things that would be typical for Christians within the fundamentalist-revivalist tradition: miracles, healings, an emphasis on deliverance, speaking in tongues, and a sense of the believers being in the vanguard of the Holy Spirit’s movement as the millennium neared. However, what marked out the Toronto Blessing for special consideration were the more unusual phenomena that occurred. A number of followers trace the initial outpouring...

  9. 6 The Ritual Use of the Bible in African Pentecostalism
    (pp. 179-197)
    Paul Gifford

    The use of the Bible in Africa is much studied now.¹ Most are academic studies, in large measure done by African academics, trained in the West and writing for West.

    Regarding Pentecostal churches specifically, one hears a good deal of expository preaching, of the kind familiar in Western Reformation churches. Just as in these, much use of scripture is fairly loose; the text is a launching pad for ideas that may have a rather tenuous link back to the text. For example, Mensa Otabil in Ghana can deliver a whole sermon series loosely stemming from one text, like his “Pulling...

  10. 7 Voices: Presence and Prophecy in Charismatic Ritual
    (pp. 198-219)
    Simon Coleman

    A story is told of Kenneth Hagin Sr., the founder of Rhema Bible Training Center and the charismatic preacher who is generally credited for establishing the Faith Movement in the United States. Hagin was accused of plagiarizing the works of a rather more obscure preacher and writer, E. W. Kenyon. Hagin’s response was telling, and invoked a charismatic version of a Durkheimianconscience collective. Of course there were close parallels between his work and that of Kenyon. After all, both were inspired by the same source: God.

    This story raises some questions I want to explore. What might be the...

  11. 8 When God Interferes: Ritual, Empowerment, and Divine Presence in Chilean Pentecostalism
    (pp. 220-248)
    Martin Lindhardt

    It is common knowledge among members of the Evangelical Pentecostal Church (EPC) in Valparaíso, Chile, that good things only happen when God makes them happen. A fundamental theological principle in this church is an understanding of human powerlessness and total dependence upon an almighty God as the source of all good things. According to Anthony Giddens, distinguishing features of modernity include a basic trust in the transformative potential of human agency and social institutions as well as new perceptions of determination and ambiguity that leave little room for religious cosmologies (1994: 36). But in the EPC, secular notions of transformative...

  12. 9 Quiet Deliverances
    (pp. 249-276)
    Jon Bialecki

    In anthropological and sociological literature, charismatic Christianity is often thought through in experiential and embodied terms; this is particularly true of writing on the Vineyard, a Southern California–originated, worldwide denomination that sees itself as combining the best of both pentecostal and evangelical practice. Tracing its roots back to the “Jesus Movement” of the 1960s, the Vineyard is now a denomination that rejects its denominational status, presenting itself as a church-planting “movement.” The Vineyard, however, has effects that exceed its own body (denominational or otherwise): the Vineyard is seen as playing a vital role in the “Californianization” of American Protestantism...

  13. 10 Imperfect Vessels: Emotion and Rituals of Anti-Ritual in American Pentecostal and Charismatic Devotional Life
    (pp. 277-305)
    Gretchen Pfeil

    Attempts to discuss the central ritual forms of American Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity, among them conversion narrative and sermon, are troubled by a seeming conflict. They seem to be ritual forms, and at the same time, to be something more, even opposed to ritual action. The urgency and personal quality of these forms of devotional practice lead, sometimes, to readings of them as transparent statements of fact. Conversion narrative, for example, is both clearly a form of devotional practice and also “real,” compelling as autobiography and a source of information about practitioners’ lives. This chapter unpacks this paradoxical quality to...

  14. 11 Public Rituals and Political Positioning: Venezuelan Evangelicals and the Chávez Government
    (pp. 306-329)
    David Smilde

    This chapter differs from the other chapters in this book insofar as it looks not at the way ritual forms part of charismatic Christian practice at the microlevel, in personal or interpersonal religiosity. Rather, it looks at the way ritual is utilized by evangelical organizations in Venezuela, in their efforts to publicly position themselves in a complex political field. Such an analysis of this ritual activity will help us not only understand evangelical churches and associations, it will also help us understand some key issues in the study of Latin American politics and popular movements.

    In the past ten years...

  15. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 330-332)
  16. Index
    (pp. 333-344)