Daswani, “The Globalization of Pentecostalism and the Limits of Globalization”

Daswani, Girish. 2013. The Globalization of Pentecostalism and the Limits of Globalization. In Janice Boddy and Michael Lambek, A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion.  Hoboken, NJ : John Wiley and Sons.

Abstract: Globalization and Pentecostalism are intimately connected in a double sense. On the one hand, it is globalization that makes possible the rise of Pentecostalism and offers it the means to spread. On the other hand, “globalization” summarizes what Pentecostals find wrong with the world and what they hope to transform. I illustrate this interconnection and the dilemmas to which it gives rise by forcing on a particular denominator whose members I followed for years.

The Church of Pentecost (CoP) is a global church with over eighty branches located outside of its headquarters in Ghana. At the time of writing, the home page of its website displayed a list of its eighty-four member countries, scrolling across the screen from right to left like flashing news bulletins or stock prices. The names are indexical of a divine commitment to, and financial investment in, countries such as Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, India, Lebanon, United Kingdom, United States, and Zimbabwe (the list continues). The phrase “Bringing the world to the saving knowledge of Christ” underpins the title of the church, elucidating the imagined reality summoned up by the list. While the information does not change as frequently or rapidly as international news or stock markets, it affirms the missionary presence of the church and the international flows of its leaders and members. The website is an apt artifact of our globalized age, electronically capturing its urgency, continuous movement, and fluctuations. For viewers, the website also helps to thicken social relations by enabling the virtual participation of church members living in different parts of the world. One of the news items from 2011, for example, informed CoP members about the chairman’s public lecture at the Global Christian Forum in Manado, Indonesia. Another, from 2012, shared a blog post from the immediate past-chairman, who writes about the failure of the church in Europe to live up to expectations. While residing in hamburg, Germany, he invited CoP members to pray for the European branches of its church. “now, while the fastest growing churches are in Africa and Asia, Christianity has taken a nose-dive in most parts of Europe. We are the fruit of their missionary sacrifices. Our presence in Europe at this time is divine . . . REVERSE MISSIOLOGY.”

 

 

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