This article offers a reflexive and phenomenological response to some of the challenges of the recent ontological turn. It argues, first, that a focus on embodiment is crucial in understanding the formation of ontological assumptions, and, second, that researchers have an ethical responsibility to practice an ‘ontological reflexivity’ that goes beyond the conceptual reflexivity of much recent ontological work. It conceives the anthropological domain as a place of ‘intra-actment’ and maintains that to avoid ontological closure, researchers must contextualize their ontological assumptions by reflexively sensitizing themselves to how these assumptions are shaped by both embodied experience and the contexts in which they are articulated and performed. This article seeks to enact this through an auto-ethnographic exploration of the author’s own embodied experience as it relates to demonic manifestations and the divine.
Abstract: Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI) is a Ghanaian Pentecostal-charismatic organization with a transnational reach. In this article, I analyze the pedagogical system whereby this denomination has introduced converts into its ‘church planting’ mission. LCI leaders are keenly aware of both the necessity and the perils of discipline to the Christian life, exemplifying two stances of Pentecostal-charismatic ethics and politics: its quantitative concern with accessibility, and its qualitative concern with piety. Attempts to balance these relatively autonomous trends engender a gradational and distributive approach to discipline and leniency in LCI, which calibrates disciplinary demands according to converts’ level of ‘spiritual maturity’. This article takes the dialectics of discipline and lenience that characterizes LCI’s ecclesiology as an opportunity to reconsider religious subject formation beyond the dominant problem of ‘self-fashioning’.
By: Timothy Carroll (University College, London)
In A Diagram for Fire, Jon Bialecki draws upon his ethnographic field research amongst Vineyard churches – principally in Southern California – to lay the groundwork for ‘a kind of commonality’ (p. xviii) not only to Vineyard religiosity, and wider evangelical charismatic and Pentecostal movements, but even (in the conclusion) Christianity and religion more broadly. Most of the pages, however, focus on specific case studies of miracle accounts, small group discussions on hearing from God, prayer circles and other examples of charismatic religiosity in order to advance, explicate, and problematize Bialecki’s concept of ‘the diagram for fire’. It is a long review, longer than most on this blog. For those not interested in a long review, I offer an abbreviated synopsis:
tl;dr: It is a rich, insightful, and at times dense and highly nuanced anthropological argument about the event moment, and how this moment is situated and becomes recognised as a miracle. Probably best for advanced UG or research students as well as professionals interested in charismatic Christianity or a more structuralist/frameworks approach (as opposed to an epistemological or concepts approach) to ontology. If you’ve only time for one chapter, read Chapter 3.
If you’ve read Diagram, skip the outline, and go straight to the Discussion, below. The Outline offers a summary of the chapters, and provides a context for the discussion at the end. Continue reading
Publisher’s Description: This is the first scholarly volume on Chinese Christian Pentecostal and charismatic movements around the globe. The authors include the most active and renowned scholars of global Pentecostalism and Chinese Christianity, including Allan Anderson, Daniel Bays, Kim-twang Chan, Gordon Melton, Donald Miller, and Fenggang Yang. It covers historical linkages between Pentecostal missions and indigenous movements in greater China, contemporary charismatic congregations in China, Singapore, Malaysia, and the United States, and the Catholic charismatic renewal movement in China. The volume also engages discussion and disagreement on whether it is even appropriate to refer to many of the Chinese Christian movements as Pentecostal or charismatic. If not, are they primarily following cultural traditions, or upholding beliefs and practices in the Bible?
Pentecostals and Charismatics among Chinese Christians: An Introduction
Fenggang Yang, Joy K. C. Tong, and Allan H. Anderson
Part 1. Historical, Global, and Local Contexts
Chapter 1. Contextualizing the Contemporary Pentecostal Movement in China
Donald E. Miller
Chapter 2. Chinese Ecstatic Millenarian Folk Religion with Pentecostal Christian Characteristics?
Daniel H. Bays
Chapter 3. Pentecostalism Comes to China: Laying the Foundations for a Chinese Version of Christianity
J. Gordon Melton
Chapter 4. Elitism and Poverty: Early Pentecostalism in Hong Kong (1907–1945)
Part 2. A Chinese Pentecostal Denomination: The True Jesus Church
Chapter 5. Charismatic Crossings: The Transnational, Transdenominational Friendship of Bernt Berntsen and Wei Enbo
Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye
Chapter 6. Taming the Spirit by Appropriating Indigenous Culture: An Ethnographic Study of the True Jesus Church as Confucian-Style Pentecostalism
Chapter 7. Glossolalia and Church Identity: The Role of Sound in the Making of a Chinese Pentecostal-Charismatic Church
Part 3. Pentecostal or Non-Pentecostal: Self-Identity and Scholarly Observation
Chapter 8. Spirituality and Spiritual Practice: Is the Local Church Pentecostal?
Chapter 9. Are Chinese Christians Pentecostal? A Catholic Reading of Pentecostal Influence on Chinese Christians
Chapter 10. The “Galilee of China”: Pentecostals without Pentecostalism
Part 4. New-Wave Charismatics in Chinese Societies
Chapter 11. “Christianity Fever” and Unregistered Churches in China
Selena Y. Z. Su and Allan H. Anderson
Chapter 12. China’s Patriotic Pentecostals
Karrie J. Koesel
Chapter 13. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Mainland China
Rachel Xiaohong Zhu
Chapter 14. City Harvest Church of Singapore: An Ecclesial Paradigm for Pentecostalism in the Postmodern World
Chapter 15. The Localization of Charismatic Christianity among the Chinese in Malaysia: A Study of Full Gospel Tabernacle
Weng Kit Cheong and Joy K. C. Tong
Chapter 16. The Femininity of Chinese Christianity: A Study of a Chinese Charismatic Church and Its Female Leadership
Joy K. C. Tong and Fenggang Yang
Conclusion: Challenges, Theories, and Methods in Studying Chinese “Pentecostalism”
Allan H. Anderson
Publisher’s Description: What is the work that miracles do in American Charismatic Evangelicalism? How can miracles be unanticipated and yet worked for? And finally, what do miracles tell us about other kinds of Christianity and even the category of religion? A Diagram for Fire engages with these questions in a detailed sociocultural ethnographic study of the Vineyard, an American Evangelical movement that originated in Southern California. The Vineyard is known worldwide for its intense musical forms of worship and for advocating the belief that all Christians can perform biblical-style miracles. Examining the miracle as both a strength and a challenge to institutional cohesion and human planning, this book situates the miracle as a fundamentally social means of producing change—surprise and the unexpected used to reimagine and reconfigure the will. Jon Bialecki shows how this configuration of the miraculous shapes typical Pentecostal and Charismatic religious practices as well as music, reading, economic choices, and conservative and progressive political imaginaries.
Abstract: This article discusses knowledge gained through experiencing the presence of God through the ‘spiritual senses’ as a resource in an Evangelical Lutheran parish. Believers’ being-in-touch experiences with the divine produce a special kind of knowledge that can be shared and passed on in the parish. This ‘spiritual asset’ plays an important part in parochial activities. This development can be explained by the rise of experience-based religiosity and charismatic Christianity, a global Christian trend which is also affecting the mainline churches.
Abstract: This article presents a feminist analysis of patriarchy persisting in Catholicism of the Syro-Malabar rite in Kerala. The article specifically considers the impact of charismatic Catholicism on women of the Syro-Malabar rite and argues that it is important to interrogate this new face of religiosity in order to fully understand how certain rituals are allowed to change and be fluid, while others, especially concerning female sexuality, are enshrined as “tradition” which often restricts the parameters for women’s empowerment and may reinforce caste and patriarchal hegemonies preventing feminist solidarity across different religious- and caste-based groups.
Abstract: How do American Charismatic Evangelicals imagine human difference? Ethnographic fieldwork with the Vineyard, a Southern California originated but now nation-wide Charismatic Evangelical movement, suggests that for many lay American Charismatic Evangelicals, difference is conceptualized in three different modes, involving potentialities, relations, and boundedness. Much like a grammar shapes communication without imposing a single meaning, these forms of conceiving human difference mandate no single intrinsic political position, but do affect the way that American Charismatic evangelicals express and contest notions of human difference.
Abstract: This article suggests that the gendered aspects of charisma have so far been overlooked in recent scholarship and seeks to align studies of charismatic religious leaders more fully with studies of masculinity and the ‘masculinisation’ of Charismatic churches. Based on research conducted at the Church of Christ the King (CCK) in Brighton and Hove, UK, I analyses how leadership operates as a key language for mediating masculinity, giving young men ways of being manly within both Christian and church parameters as well as forming links between experienced leaders and their young apprentices. Focusing on a dramatic visit by a notorious international preacher as an instance of charismatic masculinity in action, the author shows how an understanding of a corporate culture of masculinity can lend new insight into our understanding of charisma as both a relational construct and a system of individual authority which is tested at times of crisis and succession.
Abstract: This essay discusses the relationship between the Vineyard and the various other apostolic networks. By comparing the Vineyard with C. Peter Wagner and the New Apostolic Revival, I contend that the chief difference between these two movements lies in a Vineyard interest in pedagogy over a New Apostolic Revival interest in governance, and in the Vineyard’s use of the figure of John Wimber as an exemplar for practice rather than as a figure of authority.