Excerpt: “Prolegomenon: Herewithin three glimpses into the new religious world order. The First is from Post-apartheid South Africa. The New Life Church is to be found in Malifkeng, in the North West Province. Founded just before the fall of apartheid, it typifies as brand of upbeat, technically-hyped Pentecostalism that is aspiring to fill the moral void left by a withering of revolutionary ideals and civic norms in the postcolony. While New Life is the creation of a talented pair of pastors, a husband and wife who had reshaped it independently of denominational oversight, their community belongs to the International Federation of Christian Churches; this is a global network of congregations, all of which combine a lively charismatic realism with a frank morality, the latter embodied in a subject not embarrassed by this-worldly desire. . . “
Abstract: Neo-liberal globalization (also known as “millennial capitalism”) and the neo-Pentecostal-charismatic movement seem to be converging and spreading in the same areas of the globe. Against a backdrop of Pentecostal growth from its coalescence with indigenous shamanism in modern Korea, Presbyterian Elder and scientist Ki-Cheol Son, famous for his charismatic preaching and healing ministry, founded the Heavenly Touch Ministry (HTM) in Seoul in 2004. Unlike most Reformed Charismatics, he promotes the idea that God wants Christians to be successful, with special attention to financial prosperity. The success of HTM’s doctrines stressing deliverance/healing and blessings hinges on two interrelated sets of factors: first, HTM’s teachings, representing a collective aspiration within the contemporary Korean religious market, are effectively marketed by Elder Son, who has a keen perception of people’s need for miracles; and second, the teachings work in idioms (such as “Name-it-and-claim-it!”) that are familiar and accessible to a wide range of shamanistic middle-class believers struggling for financial success in the new economic climate. It seems to me that these sets of factors make identical claims, stated differently. HTM is a product of neo-liberal globalization, and its followers represent the neo-Pentecostal middle class in the global village. This paper elaborates this thesis with reference to observations at HTM’s deliverance meetings and newspaper interviews with Son.