Abbreviations

Advocate

The (Pentecostal Holiness) Advocate

AF

The Apostolic Faith (Los Angeles)

AFM

Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa

AG

Assemblies of God

AJPS

Asia Journal of Pentecostal Studies

ANC

African National Congress

AV

Bible, Authorised (King James) Version

BM

The Bridegroom’s Messenger

CCR

Catholic Charismatic Renewal

CE

The Christian Evangel

CEM

Congo Evangelistic Mission

CfAN

Christ for All Nations

CG

Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee)

CIM

China Inland Mission

CMA

Christian and Missionary Alliance

CMS

Church Missionary Society

Conf

Confidence: A Pentecostal Paper for Great Britain

COP

Church of Pentecost

FF

Flames of Fire

FGBMFI

Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International

IMC

International Missionary Council

IRM

International Review of Mission

IVP

InterVarsity Press

JEPTA

Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association

JPM

Jesus People movement

JPT

Journal of Pentecostal Theology

LMS

London Missionary Society

LRE

The Latter Rain Evangel

NAE

National Association of Evangelicals

NIDPCM

Burgess, New International Dictionary of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements

NIV

Bible, New International Version

PE

The Pentecostal Evangel

Pent

The Pentecost

PFN

Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria

PMU

Pentecostal Missionary Union for Great Britain and Ireland

Pneuma

Pneuma: Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

RCCG

Redeemed Christian Church of God

SCM

Student Christian Movement

SGS

Spiritual Gifts Society

SPS

Society for Pentecostal Studies

TF

Triumphs of Faith

TJC

True Jesus Church

WCC

World Council of Churches

WE

The Weekly Evangel

WW

Word and Work

WWit

Word and Witness

UR

The Upper Room

YFGC

Yoido Full Gospel Church

YMCA

Young Men’s Christian Association

YWCA

Young Women’s Christian Association

ZCC

Zion Christian Church

     

Introduction

Among the many breathtaking developments in the post-World War II and the subsequent post-colonial eras, few are more striking than the worldwide Christian resurgence. With unflagging momentum, Christianity has become, or is fast becoming, the principal religion of the peoples of the world. Primal societies that once stood well outside the main orbit of the faith have become major centers of Christian impact, while Europe and North America, once considered the religion’s heartlands, are in noticeable recession. We seem to be in the middle of massive cultural shifts and realignments whose implications are only now beginning to become clear. Aware that Europe’s energies at the time were absorbed in war, Archbishop William Temple presciently observed in 1944 that this global feature of the religion was “the new fact of our time.” An impressive picture now meets our eyes: the growing numbers and the geographical scope of that growth, the cross-cultural patterns of encounter, the variety and diversity of cultures affected, the structural and anti-structural nature of the changes involved, the kaleidoscope of cultures often manifested in familiar and unfamiliar variations on the canon, the wide spectrum of theological views and ecclesiastical traditions represented, the ideas of authority and styles of leadership that have been developed, the process of acute indigenization that fosters liturgical renewal, the production of new religious art, music, hymns, songs, and prayers—all these are part of Christianity’s stunningly diverse profile.

These unprecedented developments cast a revealing light on the serial nature of Christian origins, expansion, and subsequent attrition. They fit into the cycles of retreat and advance, of contraction and expansion, and of waning and awakening that have characterized the religion since its birth,

though they are now revealed to us with particular force. The pattern of contrasting development is occurring simultaneously in various societies across the world. The religion is now in the twilight of its Western phase and at the beginning of its formative non-Western impact. Christianity has not ceased to be a Western religion, but its future as a world religion is now being formed and shaped at the hands and in the minds of its non-Western adherents. Rather than a cause for unsettling gloom, for Christians this new situation is a reason for guarded hope.

Today students of the subject can stand in the middle of the recession of Christianity in its accustomed heartland while witnessing its resurgence in areas long considered receding missionary lands, but that is the situation today. In 1950, some 80 percent of the world’s Christians lived in the northern hemisphere in Europe and North America. By 2005 the vast majority of Christians lived in the southern hemisphere in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In 1900 at the outset of colonial rule there were just under 9 million Christians in Africa, of whom the vast majority were Ethiopian Orthodox or Coptic. In 1960 at the end of the colonial period the number of Christians had increased to about 60 million, with Catholics and Protestants making up 50 million, and the other 10 million divided between the Ethiopian Orthodox and Coptic Churches. By 2005, the African Christian population had increased to roughly 393 million, which is just below 50 percent of Africa’s population.

It is estimated that there are slightly more than 2 billion Christians worldwide, making Christianity among the world’s fastest growing religions. In terms of the languages and ethnic groups affected, as well as the variety of churches and movements involved, Christianity is also the most diverse and pluralist religion in the world. More people pray and worship in more languages and with more differences in styles of worship in Christianity than in any other religion. Well over 2000 of the world’s languages are embraced by Christianity through Bible translation, prayer, liturgy, hymns, and literature. Over 90 percent of the languages have a grammar and a dictionary only because the Western missionary movement provided them, thus pioneering the largest, most diverse, and most vigorous movement of cultural renewal in history. At the same time, the post-Western Christian resurgence is occurring in societies already set in currents of indigenous religious pluralism. In addition to firsthand familiarity with at least one other religion, most new Christians speak at the minimum two languages. It is not the way a Christian in the secular West has been used to looking at the religion, but it is now the only way.

Increasingly and in growing numbers, Third World churches are appearing in the towns and cities of the West, while Third World missionaries are also arriving to serve in churches in Europe and North America. This suggests the commencement of the re-evangelization of a secularized West by orthodox Christians of former missionized countries. It is sobering to reflect on the implications and political impact of such a sharp cultural encounter. The empty churches of the West are being filled with mounting numbers of non-Western Christians whose orthodox religious views will pose a radical challenge to the secular liberal status quo, while institutions of liberal theological education are busy redefining themselves to preempt a cultural collision with the post-Western Christian resurgence. Orthodox Christian groups in the West are meanwhile positioning themselves to effect a complex strategic alliance with the new resurgence.

Mainline denominations have already felt the force of this shift. In the Roman Catholic Church the structural adjustment of Vatican II has allowed the new wind of change to sweep through the church (if at times it has been impeded), producing movements in several different directions and across the world. The New Catholic Catechism reflects the change in language, mood, and style, and the rapid creation of bishops and cardinals in the non-Western church, accompanied by a steady stream of papal encyclicals, testifies to the fresh momentum of post-Western Christianity. The papacy has been not only an observer of the change but also an active promoter of it, and, in the particular case of Pius XII, the source of a well-tempered preparation for it. Similarly, churches and denominations encompassed in the Protestant ecumenical movement have felt jostled in unexpected, uncomfortable ways by the sudden entrance into their ranks of new Third World churches. The worldwide Anglican Communion has been reeling under pressure from the organized and concerted Third World reaction to the consecration and installation of a practicing gay bishop by the Episcopal Church USA. The other Protestant Churches with sizable Third World memberships have paused to reflect on the implications for them of such a culture clash. Not since the Reformation has there been such a shake-up of authority in the Western church, with unrehearsed implications for the West’s cultural preeminence.

In the meantime, the number of mainline Protestant missionaries is decreasing, while evangelical missionary numbers are increasing steadily, complemented by a rising tide of African, Asian, and other Third World missionaries, including more than 10,000 from South

Korea alone. In 1950, Christians in South Korea numbered barely half a million; today they number some 13 million and are among the most prosperous and mobile of people anywhere. It is likely that churches in South Korea rather than churches in the West will play a key role on the new Christian frontier about to open in China, which might well become a dominant axis of the religion, with hard-to-imagine implications for the rest of the world.

These facts and developments afford a unique opportunity and challenge for cross-cultural study of the asymmetry of the turnover and serial impact of Christianity, where a dip here is followed by a bounce there. The intersection of the path of decline in the West with the upward swing of momentum of post-Western Christianity makes the subject a compelling and deeply rewarding one for comparative study and critical reflection.

The new reality brought about by the shift in the center of gravity of Christianity from the northern to the southern hemisphere provides the context for the volumes in this series, which are designed to bring the fruits of new research and reflection to the attention of the educated, nonspecialist reader. The first volume offers a panoramic survey of the field, exploring the sources to uncover the nature and scope of Christianity’s worldwide multicultural impact. The agents, methods, and means of expansion are investigated closely in order to clarify the pattern and forms as well as issues of appropriation and inculturation. The cultural anticipations that allowed the religion to take root in diverse settings under vastly different historical and political circumstances are assessed for how they shaped the reception of Christianity. Similarly, Christianity’s intercontinental range as well as its encounter with other religions, including Islam, elicited challenges for the religion in the course of its worldwide expansion. These challenges are examined.

This volume and subsequent volumes will be devoted to specific themes and regions within the general subject of Christianity’s development as a world religion. While each volume is conceived and written individually, together the volumes are united in their focus on post- Western developments in Christianity and in the elaborations, variations, continuities, and divergences with the originating Western forms of the religion.

Making Sense of Global Plurality

Pentecostalism has experienced amazing growth from its humble beginnings with a handful of people at the beginning of the twentieth century to some half billion adherents at the end of the century. There are many reasons, but perhaps the most important is that it is fundamentally an “ends of the earth,” missionary, polycentric, transnational religion. The experience of the Spirit and belief in world evangelization are hallmarks of Pentecostalism, and pentecostals believe that they are called to be witnesses for Jesus Christ to the farthest reaches of the globe in obedience to Christ’s commission. And they have been remarkably successful. They have contributed enormously to the southward shift of Christianity’s center of gravity and provided a powerful argument against the inevitability of secularization. During the second half of the twentieth century the most significant changes in the global demography of Christianity have occurred through the growth of Pentecostalism, which has its origins in a series of revival movements at the beginning of the century. Pentecostalism has been arguably the fastest growing religious movement in the contemporary world. Ironically, most of the growth of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, both inside and outside the older Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, has occurred in the very period when secularization was at its height in Europe. The unanticipated global expansion of Pentecostalism in the last quarter of the twentieth century and the expansion of other religions like Islam indicate that religion continues to play an important role in the contemporary world. The enormous growth of Pentecostalism is a fact accepted by all informed observers, though there is some debate over the extent of that growth and its impact on older churches. This book takes the fact of Pentecostalism’s growth as its starting point and attempts to give an explanation for it.1

Pentecostalism is above all else a missionary movement—this premise enables us to understand the primary motivation for its global expansion throughout the twentieth century. Global Pentecostalism began as a restorationist or revitalization movement among radical evangelicals who were expecting a worldwide, Holy Spirit revival before the imminent coming of Christ. The words of an early twentieth-century revivalist gospel song and a favorite of an earlier generation of English-speaking pentecostals includes the lines: “Lord, send the old-time power, the pentecostal power... That sinners be converted and thy name glorified.” These words express why “old-time power” is so emphasized by pentecostals worldwide. It is not just a mystical experience of God through the Holy Spirit; the fundamental conviction of pentecostals is that the power they receive through the Spirit is to evangelize all nations and so glorify Jesus Christ. It is estimated that Pentecostalism had reached fifty different nations within the first decade of its existence. Although growth was at first modest, as the world of the twentieth century lurched through two devastating world wars and colonial empires crumbled, Pentecostalism expanded and adapted to the changing world. By the end of the century it had become predominantly a non-Western phenomenon, with thousands of mutations from large urban mega-churches with high-tech equipment and sophisticated organizations to remote village house churches in which handfuls of believers meet in secret. The largest pentecostal churches in the world are now found in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and on the eastern rim of Asia from Indonesia to Korea. One debatable estimate gave Pentecostalism some 614 million adherents in 2010, a quarter of the world’s Christian population. Even if these figures are inaccurate or inflated, no observer of Christianity can deny the significance of Pentecostalism in today’s religious landscape.2

Lamin Sanneh asserts that “Charismatic Christianity... is largely responsible for the dramatic shift in the religion’s center of gravity.” Philip Jenkins has given us a comprehensive account of the shifting locus of world Christianity in the twentieth century, an epochal shift in demography that has been discussed by scholars at least since the 1970s. Jenkins speculates that pentecostal and independent churches will soon “represent a far larger segment of global Christianity, and just conceivably a majority,” resulting in Pentecostalism being “perhaps the most successful

social movement of the past century.” Considering that this movement had a tiny number of adherents at the beginning of the twentieth century, this is a remarkable achievement. The many varieties of Pentecostalism have contributed to the reshaping of the nature of global religion itself, with enormous implications. For example, its adherents are often on the cutting edge of the encounter with people of other faiths, sometimes confrontationally so. The future of global religion is affected by this seismic change in the character of the Christian faith. It is no coincidence that the southward shift in Christianity’s center of gravity over the twentieth century has coincided with the emergence and expansion of Pentecostalism.3

The thrust of this book is to focus on the innovations, challenges, and achievements of Pentecostalism in the Majority World, where over three quarters of its adherents live. Making sense of the bewildering varieties of Pentecostalism found throughout the world today is not an easy task. This is not a homogeneous movement, for there are literally thousands of different pentecostal denominations, many independent of those forms founded in North America and Europe at the start of the twentieth century. Notwithstanding these very significant differences, however, these varieties can all be described as “pentecostal” in character, theology, and ethos, with certain features and beliefs held in common throughout its many manifestations, most of which emerged in the early twentieth century. This book attempts to comprehensively survey these pentecostal characteristics, tracing the complex historical and theological developments that led to the emergence of the various global movements that make up contemporary pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. It discusses what it is in Pentecostalism’s religious makeup that makes its message attractive and distinctive. It traces and analyzes the various impulses that have led to the proliferation and diversification of its various global forms. The sheer impossibility of doing justice to the many different kinds of Pentecostalism means that this analysis will be selective and give representative case studies. Certain figures in pentecostal history will be given prominence, especially those in the Majority World. The analysis will also make reference to primary texts written by adherents of the movement itself in its formative years, focusing on the ideas and impulses that motivated its vigorous expansion throughout the twentieth century. The book explores the theological history of global Pentecostalism, examines current issues in the light of the past, and seeks patterns facilitating its rapid globalization.

Types and Definitions

Although the term “Pentecostalism” is now widely used by scholars of religion (especially by social scientists) and most of these scholars seem to know what it means, “Pentecostalism” has been used to embrace large movements as widely diverse as the celibacy-practicing Pentecostal Mission in India, the Saturday-Sabbath keeping and “Oneness” True Jesus Church in China, the uniform-wearing, highly ritualistic Zion Christian Church in Southern Africa, and Brazil’s equally enormous, prosperity-oriented Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. These are lumped together with the Assemblies of God, the various Churches of God, the Roman Catholic Charismatic movement, “Neocharismatic” independent churches with prosperity and “Word of Faith” theologies, the “Third Wave” evangelical movement with their use of spiritual gifts framed within a non-subsequence theology, and many other forms of Charismatic Christianity as diverse as Christianity itself. Clearly, such a widely inclusive definition is difficult to maintain. Classical pentecostal scholars tend to imply that statistics establish the numerical strength of their particular form of Pentecostalism. These scholars begin at Los Angeles (or Topeka, Kansas) and state rather triumphally that Pentecostalism has grown to a half billion members without analyzing either what are included in these figures or what are the very different historical trajectories that brought about such diversity.4

Some statisticians claim that there were 614,010,000 “Pentecostals, Charismatics, Neocharismatics” in the world in 2010 (a figure projected to rise to 797 million by 2025). Although not expressly defined, presumably “Pentecostal” here means “classical pentecostal” as defined later in the chapter; “Charismatic” means those who practice spiritual gifts in the older Catholic and Protestant denominations (with Catholics forming the great majority); and “Neocharismatic” includes all others, especially the vast number of independent churches—perhaps two thirds of the total. There are thousands of possible permutations. Social scientists and others place all these movements under the generic title “Pentecostalism,” based on phenomenological evidence but with little regard to theological and historical differences. This book is an attempt to unravel these complexities, even though any definition will fall short of precision. Scholars should no longer assume that there are some 600 million pentecostals in the world without further qualification, as only a minority of these are classical pentecostals with direct or indirect connections to North

American revivals. One hundred fifty million classical pentecostals after only a century, however, is still impressive. But if we are to do justice to this global movement of the Spirit, we must include its more recent and more numerous expressions in the Charismatic and Neocharismatic movements.5

So, what exactly do we mean when we talk of “Pentecostalism”? There is no exact way to answer this question—and debates will rage on. Defining anything is a hazardous exercise. Douglas Jacobsen has pointed out that from its earliest times Pentecostalism has defied precise definition. It is “clear to everyone with regard to its general meaning but impossible to define in detail in a way that will satisfy everyone.” The nearest Jacobsen gets to a definition is this: “In a general sense, being pentecostal means that one is committed to a Spirit-centered, miracle-affirming, praise-oriented version of the Christian faith,” but he concludes that “there is no meta-model of Pentecostalism—no essence of Pentecostalism or normative archetype.” Any attempt to define the term is bound to have detractors. Although it is probably more correct to speak of “Pentecostalisms” in the contemporary global context, the singular form will be used here to describe these movements as a whole.6

The Western reader familiar with so-called classical Pentecostalism must beware of confusing this specific section of Pentecostalism with other forms that are more common. It is inaccurate to refer to Pentecostalism as a Christian “tradition,” although this word is emerging with increasing frequency in the literature. Global Pentecostalism is more diverse than any other Christian expression precisely because its different forms are rooted in local contexts. This has consciously influenced the presentation of this book. Pentecostalism’s localness makes any attempt to understand the dynamics of its globalization a hazardous exercise. My desire to do justice to the forms of Pentecostalism found outside the Western world and to be inclusive in my definition of “Pentecostalism” is a perspective that sometimes solicits controversy. Pentecostalism has mutated from its diverse beginnings into several different forms today, each with its own family resemblances. A classification of these forms with broad strokes includes the following, each with its own subtypes:

l. Classical pentecostals are those whose faith can be shown to have originated in the evangelical revival and missionary movements of the early twentieth century, particularly in the Western world. Considering theological differences, these can be further divided into (a) Holiness pentecostals,

whose roots are in the nineteenth-century holiness movement with a belief in a second work of grace called “sanctification” and a third stage called “baptism in the Spirit”; (b) “Finished Work” pentecostals, who differ in their approach to sanctification, seeing it as a consequence of conversion to be followed by Spirit baptism as a second work of grace; and from the latter stem (c) Oneness pentecostals, who reject the doctrine of the Trinity and posit a Unitarianism that includes the deity of Christ; and (d) Apostolic pentecostals, both Oneness and Trinitarian, who emphasize the authority of present-day “apostles” and “prophets” and are especially strong in West Africa. These four categories apply mostly to those denominations emanating from Western Pentecostalism, such as the significant number of Apostolic pentecostals in Nigeria and Ghana influenced by the Apostolic Church in Britain. All of these groups have a theology of a subsequent experience of Spirit baptism usually accompanied by speaking in tongues.

2. Older Church Charismatics, including Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and various Protestant Charismatics. These movements are widespread and sometimes approach the subject of Spirit baptism and spiritual gifts from a sacramental perspective. These Charismatics differ from each other in the same ways that their denominations differ in theology but because they do not leave their churches and create schism, they also constitute a powerful force for ecumenical contact. In some countries like Nigeria and the Philippines, they constitute a large percentage of the Christian population.

3. Older Independent Churches, especially the Chinese “Old Three-Self Churches” that did not join the government-recognized Three Self Patriotic Movement, and contemporary house churches in China of a “pentecostal” nature, the Indian pentecostal churches emanating from the (Ceylon) Pentecostal Mission and the Indian Pentecostal Church, and the multitudes of “Spirit churches” in sub-Saharan Africa. These churches differ considerably from each other; they sometimes (but often do not) have links with classical Pentecostalism, they do not always have a clearly defined theology nor necessarily see themselves as “pentecostal,” but their practices of healing, prayer, and spiritual gifts are decidedly so.

4. Neopentecostal or Neocharismatic Churches, often regarded as “Charismatic” independent churches, including mega-churches, and consisting of many, often overlapping kinds: (a) “Word of Faith” churches and similar churches where the emphasis is on physical health and material prosperity by faith; (b) “Third Wave” churches, which usually conflate

Spirit baptism with conversion and see spiritual gifts as available to every Christian believer without there being a necessary “crisis” experience; (c) new Apostolic churches, which have reintroduced an apostolic leadership to their governance not unlike that of the earlier Apostolic pentecostals; and (d) probably the largest group, consisting of all other different independent churches that overlap and vary considerably in their theology between “Third Wave,” “Word of Faith” and “classical pentecostal,” and are therefore difficult to categorize. Some of the churches in the “new church” category are among the largest pentecostal churches in the world, among them the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (from Brazil) and the Redeemed Christian Church of God (from Nigeria). These various churches are constantly mutating and proliferating, creating new forms of independent churches literally every week.

The developments that brought about these various strands of Pentecostalism will be outlined in this study. These different forms are in constant interaction with each other, affecting each other fundamentally. The first and fourth strands are the two groups that most identify themselves as “pentecostal” or “Charismatic” and have the characteristics and family likenesses that are most common in the literature. Some classical pentecostals see a distinction between themselves and “Charismatics,” and they sometimes make charges of “syncretism” against those actually close to them in theology and history such as the African independent Spirit churches. However “syncretism,” although loaded with pejorative connotations in evangelical circles, is not always a negative word. In fact, Pentecostalism in all its different forms is permeated with syncretism of all kinds, from a mixture of American capitalism and the “success” ethos of the Western world, to the shamanist and spiritistic cultures of the East and South.

There are indeed fundamental and substantial differences between classical pentecostals and Charismatics on the one hand, and between Pentecostalism in the global South and that in the North on the other. Basic to this book’s presentation is an emphasis on variety and heterogeneity. I argue that even within classical Pentecostalism (sometimes within the same pentecostal denomination) there are fundamental differences that mirror those between classical pentecostals and Charismatics. This book poses the question, for example, whether the eschatological emphasis of early pentecostals is still a prominent feature of Western classical Pentecostalism. And was the “prosperity theology” that arose in the 1970s

really a stranger or newcomer to classical Pentecostalism’s theological history? It may have mutated, but its themes go back at least to early healing evangelists and are implicit in much of its “holistic” approach to Christian life. But there are far more commonalities between these different groups than there are differences, essential emphases common to all that distinguish them from the rest of Christianity, and these theological and historical commonalities justify such an inclusive definition. There are admittedly dangers inherent in such an approach, which will be discussed.

I have adapted the definition of the social historian Robert Mapes Anderson, whose American-focused study admittedly cannot be applied to the rest of global Pentecostalism without qualification. In this book, “Pentecostalism” includes all those movements and churches where the emphasis is on an ecstatic experience of the Spirit and a tangible practice of spiritual gifts. The experience of the Spirit may or may not include speaking in tongues as “initial evidence” of baptism in the Spirit, which for many classical pentecostals is an essential characteristic. However, different forms of Pentecostalism will always include an emphasis on a spiritual experience (especially in communal worship and in Spirit baptism) and the practice of spiritual gifts as found in Paul’s first Corinthian letter. In particular, distinctive spiritual gifts include those that are more unusual in the Christian church: prophecy, healing, exorcism, speaking in tongues, and revelations through dreams and visions. This, for me, is what Pentecostalism is all about. Using a narrower theological definition (as some classical pentecostals do) like “initial evidence,” “speaking in tongues,” or even “baptism in the Spirit” is fraught with difficulties because there are numerous exceptions worldwide. This is even the case with those who can partially and indirectly trace their origins to the United States, such as most forms of European classical Pentecostalism. Establishing the criteria for our definitions is essential, for it is often easier to criticize the “inclusive” definitions of others without providing a clear alternative. I do not pretend or assume that “pentecostal,” “Charismatic,” and “Neopentecostal” (or “Neocharismatic”) are identical or interchangeable terms, but they do often overlap.7

Nobody can adequately treat the subject of classical Pentecostalism in contemporary Christianity without noting its constant interplay with and influence on the Charismatic and Neocharismatic movements. Examples of this will be recounted in the chapters that follow. Some of the best-known leaders described here were either classical pentecostals

themselves or were influenced by classical Pentecostalism, and they played catalytic roles in the emergence of the Charismatic and Neocharismatic movements. Similarly, the liturgies of classical Pentecostalism, particularly styles of worship and song, have been fundamentally affected and changed by the Charismatic movement. The independent churches in Africa, China, and elsewhere have been indelibly influenced by their own encounters with classical Pentecostalism. The new churches in Africa have been fundamentally shaped by older independent African churches. It would be simplistic to deny these associations, for we live in a globalized world where religious acculturation is a fact of life. The present needs to be understood in the light of the past, and this is the starting point this book adopts in its attempt to make sense of the contemporary proliferation of global Pentecostalism.

This study will make use of primary sources, especially those from the early stages in Pentecostalism. It will also focus on global Pentecostalism and provide an explanation for its diversity and proliferation. The first two decades of Pentecostalism was the period in which precedents were set down for posterity and the contours of the contemporary diffusion first drawn. The theological configuration of global Pentecostalism today was almost entirely determined in this period, although I do not think that Pentecostal theology stopped changing afterward. But for this reason I draw more extensively on the early writings than on later ones. In particular, the pentecostal periodicals, with their international circulation, were the most effective media for spreading the message throughout the world before the advent of electronic media. The media have always played an important part in the propagation of Pentecostalism. I will also give some prominence to the transnational representatives of Pentecostalism during this period, for the missionaries were often catalysts in the expanding transmission of pentecostal ideas.

The chapters that follow are arranged thematically to discuss what I consider to be significant defining features of global Pentecostalism and how these developed into the varieties that exist today. I will show how these themes are directly linked to the reasons for the growth and expansion of Pentecostalism, and this is why I have chosen these specific themes in the construction of the book. Although a historical methodology is used, many of the themes treated are also theological ones, for Pentecostalism needs to be understood from its religious heart. Throughout the book these themes are highlighted and form an integrating whole for what is often a most bewildering and elusive phenomenon.

The emphasis on the Spirit, the “born-again” experience, incessant evangelism, healing and deliverance, cultural flexibility, a place-to-feel- at-home, religious continuity, an egalitarian community, meeting “felt needs”; all these features combine to provide an overarching explanation for the appeal of Pentecostalism and the transformation of Christianity in the majority world.

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