Abstract: The article explores Pentecostal embodiment practices and concepts with regard to Holy Spirit baptism and demon possession. The studied material is connected to a specific and highly controversial debate in Ethiopian Pentecostalism, which revolves around the possibility of demon possession in born-again and Spirit-filled Christians. This debate runs through much of Ethiopian Pentecostal history and ultimately is concerned with whether or how Christians can be seen to host conflicting spiritual forces, in light of the strong dualism between God and evil in Pentecostal cosmology. The article shows that the embodiment of spirits and/or the Holy Spirit is related to theological concepts of the self, because these concepts define what may or may not be discerned in certain bodily manifestations. Moreover, the article contends that this debate thrives on a certain ambiguity in spirit embodiment, which invites the discernment of spiritual experts and thereby becomes a resource of power.
Abstract: Why do recent converts in new evangelical churches desire to be re-baptized by immersion despite their previous infant baptism in mainline churches? This article addresses this question through a discussion of the observed shift in baptism practices from that of ‘sprinkling’ infants (in Protestant mainline churches) to full bodily immersion of adults (in new evangelical churches) in the Netherlands. Based on an ethnographic comparison of these two baptism practices, I demonstrate the performative effect of rituals as well as the importance of connections between material forms, embodiment and doctrines. The call for different baptism practices, I suggest, illustrates a broader shift in Dutch Protestantism from a didactic to an experiential form of Christianity in which the encounter with the sacred is increasingly located in the body. At the same time, it demonstrates how religious authority has moved from institutions to individual believers.