Bustion, “Autism and Christianity”

Bustion, Olivia.  2017. Autism and Christianity: An Ethnographic Intervention.  Journal of the American Academy of Religion.  Early online publication.

Abstract: Most scholarly discussions of autism and religion presuppose the absent self theory of autism. The theory holds that autistic persons lack a sense of self and anticipates that they will have trouble relating to a personal God and assigning religious meaning to their lives. I argue that the theory is untestable, which leaves scholars of religion with a choice: either we can say, with proponents of the absent self theory, that autistic persons lack a self, a choice that cuts religious studies off from the lived theologies of autistic persons of faith; or we can view autistic persons of faith as authority voices on their religious self-experience. As an example of what scholars of religion stand to gain by choosing the latter, I present an ethnography of autistic Christians in three web communities. These autistic Christians construct a distinctively Christian understanding of neurodiversity and a distinctively aspie understanding of God.

Cezula, “Reading the Bible in an African Context”

Cezula, Ntozakhe. 2015. Reading the Bible in the African context: Assessing Africa’s love affair with prosperity Gospel. Stellenbosch Theological Journal 1(2): 131–153.

Abstract: The aim of this article is to examine Bible reading in the African context and the willingness and enthusiasm to embrace prosperity gospel in Africa. To achieve this objective, a discussion on the developments in biblical interpretation in Africa will first be presented. This will be done by examining three historical periods: colonial, independence and democratisation periods. This will be followed by an outline of migrations that have taken place from traditional religions to different versions of Christianity in different times in Africa. These migrations will be examined in connection with Bible translation. The relationship between prosperity gospel and African people in Africa will be discussed by considering the tools prosperity gospel uses to appeal to African people, namely the religio-cultural and socio-economic factors. The article will then provide its assessment of contextual reading in the prosperity gospel and a conclusion will follow.

Vähäkangas, “The Prosperity Gospel in the African Diaspora”

Vähäkangas, Mika.  2015. The Prosperity Gospel in the African Diaspora: Unethical Theology or Gospel in Context? Exchange 44(4): 353-380.

Abstract: The prosperity gospel in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Hosanna Chapel, Helsinki, Finland, builds primarily on African indigenous worldviews rather than serving as a theological justification for capitalism. It is a contextual African interpretation of the gospel in a situation of tension between the expectations of extended families back home, those of the new society in which the immigrants find themselves, and the church. The African experience and heritage come to the fore especially in the strong emphasis placed on interpersonal relations, particularly with family members and God, as an essential part of prosperity. Naïve faith in the bliss of equal opportunities within capitalism is moderated by differentiation between realistic economic expectations and the special blessings that are endowed upon believers. When condemning the prosperity gospel wholesale, there is the risk of misinterpreting non-Western theologies and of morally castigating the weakest for their attempts to survive global capitalism instead of combating its oppressive structures.

Nigerian Pentecostalism: Book Review

Wariboko, Nimi.  2014.  Nigerian Pentecostalism. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

By: Jörg Haustein (SOAS, University of London)

Wariboko’s book is an important contribution to the by now substantial array of studies on Nigerian Pentecostalism, and yet it is one of a kind. Instead of providing another historical, political, or socio-economic analysis of the “Pentecostal explosion” in Africa’s most populous country, Wariboko seeks to unlock its secrets from within, by producing a philosophical analysis of Nigerian Pentecostal spirituality and theology. His closest conversation partner is Ruth Marshall, whose influence is acknowledged at the outset and implicitly or explicitly engaged throughout the book.

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Lybarger, “How Far is too Far?”

Lybarger, Loren D.  2015. How Far is too Far? Defining Self and Other in Religious Studies and Christian Missiology.  Journal of the American Academy of Religion.  Early online publication. 

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.

Clarke, “Friend or Foe?”

Clarke, Matthew.  2015. Friend or Foe? Finding Common Ground between Development and Pentecostalism.  PentecoStudies 14(2): 156-175.

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, “The Zion Christian Church and Global Christianity”

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, “The Anthropology of Christianity Goes to Seminary”

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 and Coleman, “Contributions from Anthropology”

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 ….”

Robeck and Yong, eds, “The Cambridge Companion to Pentecostalism”

Robeck, Cecil M. Jr. and Amos Yong.  2014. Cambridge Companion to Pentecostalism.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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.

Contents:

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.