Abstract: This article explores the limits of the debate surrounding Robert A. Orsi’s call for a “third way” in scholar-practitioner encounters in religious studies research. It argues that the debate has reached an impasse and that, as Joel Robbins suggests, an alternative approach might exist within theology—particularly, theological discussions of how the Christian is to relate to the non-Christian other. The article tests this notion by probing the writings of A. Kenneth Cragg, an Anglican theologian and Islamic Studies specialist who proposed the possibility of expanding the Christian canon within the context of interfaith encounters. The article concludes that although religious studies remains, as a field, unprepared to countenance the kind of hybridization toward which Cragg’s conception of the interfaith situation leads, his notion of “bi-scripturalism” has the potential nevertheless of opening up new questions for religious studies scholars concerned with alterity.
Abstract: Religious belief is a common human characteristic with 80 percent of the world’s population professing some religious affiliation. Indeed, global surveys report an increase in ‘religiosity’ across the globe in recent decades. Within Christianity, Pentecostalism has experienced considerable growth in contrast with the more traditional Christian churches. This growth is occurring across the globe, but is extremely evident within developing countries. Within development studies (both the theory and practice), religion has been negatively portrayed, misunderstood, or set aside as not being of importance to development outcomes. Such an approach towards religion is misguided and limits development effectiveness. While religion is certainly not the ‘answer’ to eradicating poverty or overcoming global injustices, authentic engagement by development actors with religion does provide important opportunities to enhance development outcomes. This paper will consider the basic tenets of development theory and practice and contrast those against Pentecostal theological teaching in order to determine where there exists common ground and where there exists misalignment of values and thus tension. Such assessment is important in order to enhance the religious literacy of the development sector to better understand how to authentically engage with communities expressing this belief.
Müller, Retief. 2015. The Zion Christian Church and Global Christianity: negotiating a tightrope between localisation and globalisation. Religion DOI: 10.1080/0048721X.2014.992111 [pre-publication release]
Abstract: South Africa’s Zion Christian Church (ZCC) is a primary example of African Indigenous Christianity. This article discusses some of the ways in which a church such as the ZCC might be simultaneously understood as a localised indigenous group, a ‘constructed indigeneity’, as well as inherently belonging to a wider historical tradition of Global Christianity. The discussion proceeds alongside a critical engagement of the sociologist Robert Wuthnow’s deconstruction of the ‘Global Christianity Paradigm’, as well as an appropriation of the phenomenologist of religion, James Cox’s depiction of ‘indigenous religions’ as an empirically viable theoretical concept, which is demonstrated here as also useful for the purpose of elucidating the type of religiosity encountered in the ZCC. The article makes a plea for a wider acknowledgment of the value of normative approaches to the study of African Christianity and refers to the cultural impact of the theological idea of Incarnation to explain why.
King, Rebekka. 2014. The Anthropology of Christianity Goes to Seminary. Religion and Society: Advances in Research 5:255-260.
Excerpt: “I didn’t know that we were the repugnant other,” my student Tracy exclaimed as she entered the classroom and tossed her books on the table. “I didn’t know that anthropologists were interested in studying us at all!” “Yes, I imagine it comes as a surprise,” I responded as I finished mov- ing the classroom desks into a semi-circle that was intended to facilitate the creation of spaces marked by open dialogue and diversity—core pedagogical concerns of the institution at which I was teaching. It was the second day of class, and Tracy’s comments were in response to Joel Robbins’s (2003) article “What Is a Christian? Notes toward an Anthropology of Christianity.” His discussion of Susan Harding’s infamous ‘repugnant cultural other’, which Robbins describes as an “anomalous mixture of the similar and the different” (ibid.: 193), had hit a nerve. Tracy’s question about anthropological interests in the Christian subject was an expected one, given that I was leading a special topics seminar on the Anthropology of Christianity to master of divinity students at the Candler School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary affiliated with Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia…
Stewart, Anna and Simon Coleman. 2014. “Contributions from Anthropology,” in The Oxford handbook of theology, sexuality, and gender, edited by Adrian. Thatcher, 107-119. Oxford : Oxford University Press.
Excerpt: “Religion, according to one popular anthropological definition, is a realm of experience in which humans confront ultimate categories of meaning. Through religious language, ritual, and ideology human beings come to reside within a ‘system of symbols’ that colours their experience and orientation towards the world ….In the years since Geetz’s influential definition of religious was proposed, anthropologist have pointed out the importance of looking not only at systems of meaning but also at the entanglement of actors in more material and more mundane networks of family, economy, and politics … Gender (In solving cultural expectations about the roles of men and women) ash sexuality (involving morality, desire, and physical activity related to sex) have added significant dimensions to the study of religion, for they appear to bring together these themes of symbolic meaning and embodied life ….”
Publisher’s Description: Pentecostalism is one of the fastest-growing religious movements in the world. Groups in the United States dominated early Pentecostal histories, but recent global manifestations have expanded and complicated the definition of Pentecostalism. This volume provides a nuanced overview of Pentecostalism’s various manifestations and explores what it means to be Pentecostal from the perspectives of both insiders and outsiders. Leading scholars in the field use a multidisciplinary approach to analyze the historical, economic, political, anthropological, sociological and theological aspects of the movement. They address controversies, such as the Oneness-Trinity controversy; introduce new theories; and chart trajectories for future research. The Cambridge Companion to Pentecostalism will enable beginners to familiarize themselves with the important issues and debates surrounding the global movement, while also offering experienced scholars a valuable handbook for reference.
Global Pentecostalism: an introduction to an introduction Cecil M. Robeck, Jr and Amos Yong
Part I. Historical Considerations:
1. The origins of modern Pentecostalism: some historiographical issues Cecil M. Robeck, Jr
2. Charismatic renewal and neo-Pentecostalism: from American origins to global permutations Michael J. McClymond
3. Then and now: the many faces of global Oneness Pentecostalism David A. Reed
Part II. Regional Studies:
4. North American Pentecostalism David D. Daniels, III
5. Pentecostalism in Europe and the former Soviet Union Jean-Daniel Plüss
6. Pentecostalism in Latin America Daniel Ramirez
7. African Pentecostalism Cephas N. Omenyo
8. Asian Pentecostalism in context: a challenging portrait Wonsuk Ma
Part III. Disciplinary Perspectives/Contributions – the Status Quaestiones:
9. The politics and economics of Pentecostalism: a global survey Calvin L. Smith
10. The cultural dimension of Pentecostalism André Droogers
11. Sociological narratives and the sociology of Pentecostalism Michael Wilkinson
12. Pentecostal spirituality Daniel E. Albrecht and Evan B. Howard
13. Pentecostal theology Mark J. Cartledge
14. Pentecostalism and ecumenism Wolfgang Vondey
15. Pentecostal mission and encounter with religions Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen
Instead of a conclusion: a theologian’s interdisciplinary musings on the future of global Pentecostalism and its scholarship Amos Yong.
Abstract: Growth in Christianity has spurred the appearance of the subfield of world Christianity, whose assumptions increasingly shape scholarship on Christianity. What I term the world-Christian turn, which is often linked to mission studies, yields more comprehensive approaches to the Christian past, connecting local histories of Christian communities to larger-scale historical movements and producing innovative comparative perspectives on Christianity past and present. In Catholic theology, this turn has encouraged new comparative and contextual theologies. Yet support for Christian mission and the world-Christian turn need not go together. Two cases in point: comparative theology tends to eschew mission while the work of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, is suspicious of some impulses behind the world-Christian turn and their potential for undermining Christian mission. Such cases notwithstanding, I argue that missiology is a promising resource for the field of world Christianity.
Abstract: In multiethnic Fiji, where ethnic relations are often seen as fraught and potentially charged with conflict, and where religion closely follows lines of ethnicity, attempts by Christian churches to mediate interethnic relations and build multiethnic congregations can face difficult challenges. In this article, two contrasting Christian theologies are explored, both of which draw on theologies of water as a means of mediating interethnic engagements. In these examples, processes of forging interethnic relationships are seen as variously harmonious and dissonant, unifying and separating. Drawing connections between the layered imagery of water employed in these Christian contexts and wider Pacific imaginaries of water in baptism and in the ocean, I explore these shifting processes of forging interethnic relationships in the contested context of contemporary Fiji.
Excerpt: In her recent book When God talks back: Understanding the American Evangelical relationship with God, Tanya Luhrmann offers an anthropological description of the motivations and world-view of contemporary Evangelical Christians. This work forms part of a current movement by anthropologists to gain detailed insight into and understanding of North American Christianity (Bialeki 2009; Bielo 2009, 2011; Harding 2000), and may be set in the broader context of the “anthropology of Christianity” (Cannell 2006; Engelke 2007; Robbins 2003, 2007; Keane 2007; cf. Hann 2007; Jenkins 2012). I have two broad observations to make, one concerning what one might call the Protestant nature of experience as a category, the other noting the use of theological texts as significant anthropological source.
Excerpt: This collection of articles is a very welcome surprise. In the years since writing the 2006 essay on anthropology and theology with which all of the articles to some extent engage, I had become resigned to what seemed to the be the likelihood that the dialogue between anthropology and theology was going to be one that at best built very slowly, and at worst was destined hardly to take place. To be sure, there had been some fits and starts kinds of discussions, but nothing much had happened in the way of sustained conversation. Anthropology and theology appeared to me set to continue to go their separate ways without the benefit of much cross-fertilization. The publication of this collection fundamentally alters this picture. Each of its articles is a substantial contribution in its own right, and taken together they indicate in a way no other collection yet has how productive of fresh anthropological ideas encounters with various kinds of theology can be. And in moving decisively beyond a focus solely on the Christian tradition, they also rescue this nascent engagement from becoming a purely parochial one . . .