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Rezension Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity

Stanley M. Burgess, ed., Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, Routledge Encyclopedias in Religion & Society 7 (New York & London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2006), xiii-xiv + 500 pp. £ 90.

Diese Rezension wurde in Pneuma 29/2 (2007), S. 317-320, veröffentlicht und wird hier mit freundlicher Genehmigung Pneumas wiedergegeben.

The EPCC is a timely publication within a wider series tackling the vast subject of religious diversity in modern times. The 134 entries throw light on the Churches of the Spirit – the fastest growing Christian movement today – their origins, histories, concepts, theologies, and multi-dimensional, transcultural and transmigratory developments. The book's outlay is easily accessible, providing extensive bibliographies and source material (texts and photographs), and attracts scholars, lay people, and those outside Christianity. It aims at showing the impact of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, or what Van Dusen called a "new reformation" after the established Eastern and Western missions, or Harvey Cox the "massive transformation" not only of Christianity but of religion as such. It claims to describe and analyse the theological and cultural diversity, dependent on social and geographical conditions, and emphasizes ongoing interdisciplinary research. The introduction points briefly to the problem of how to define the movement, and the fact that large areas remain un-researched, but fails to provide the reader with at least an attempt of presenting various theological, anthropological, and sociological interpretations. The entry on Global Pentecostalism addresses the “multidirectional interconnectedness” of the movement, but a general guideline is missing on how to understand the great variations of doctrinal and cultural traditions across the globe.

The strength of the encyclopedia lies (versus early self-interpretations) in locating the pentecostal-charismatic movement firmly within the biblical and historical tradition of the universal Christian church. There are “pearls” which emphasise process and practitioners over form and content, discover the roots in the Spirit's past and present operations in regional contexts, and relate the dynamics to contemporary times. Examples are geographical entries such as on East Africa, East Asia, India, Korea, China, Brazil, Indigenous Churches, Hispanic Pentecostalism, and Catholic/Pentecostal Dialogues by scholars involved in those fields (input on larger Africa, particularly Ghana, Nigeria, and African Independent Churches [AICs], is sketchy). Essays on Orthodoxy, Catholic Charismatics, Fundamentalism, Liberation Theology, Judaism, Women, Race Relations and Slavery, confirm Pentecostal theology as “affective–relational and oral-experiential,” and show a high degree of openness for multiformity and critical analysis. Informative articles such as on Glossolalia, Cessationism, Dispensationalism, Deliverance, and Prosperity (including “Word of Faith”) acquaint the reader with specific terminologies and controversies. Entries on Social Transformation, Nationalism, Marxism, Islam or Pacifism point to conflicting ideologies. Themes like Experience, Gifts of the Spirit, Healing and others serve as signposts to spiritual empowerment. However, generally, the emphasis is on extensive treatises of western (classical) Pentecostalism and falls short of internal as well as external dialogue, e.g., with Afropentecostals, Oneness, modern theologians, social science, economics, and, above all, natural science.

Although the editor himself warns against "American historiographic assumptions" (p. 90), as if the U.S. experience were paradigmatic for the realities of global Pentecostalism, many entries are limited to perspectives drawn from white classical Pentecostal concepts such as propagated by the Assemblies of God (AG), Church of God (Cleveland) (CGC), or United Pentecostal Church (UPC). Examples are treatments of key issues like the initial evidence of Spirit Baptism in tongues-speaking, mainly discussed in formal-denominational terms, or the static portrait of Pentecostal attitudes offered under Anthropology. Such an overall tendency is not outdone by just putting critical material alongside these entries. Metaphorically, the encyclopedia can be likened to a house which has opened many windows but keeps the front door shut so not to let the winds of Pentecost enter and disturb the order, contents, and perspectives within. Pentecostals on other continents outnumber those in North America. Expansion and experience cannot be conveniently pressed into the systematic language of abstract (even if not fundamentalist) categories. While a significant stream has its roots in America, Satyavrata states that "the roots of most other streams are in [autochthonous] spontaneous indigenous movements,…largely independent of western influences" (p. 221), linked to anti-colonial developments. Hence common elements of emphasis on the Bible, experiential spirituality, charismata, worship, prayer, and power-in-participation are the raw material for a “dynamic synthesis of complex impulses and processes” that shape people's cultural identity.

A more “carefully crafted renewal historiography” (p. 242) would have acknowledged and been informed by the major shift initiated by Hollenweger who affirmed, besides other factors, the African roots of the movement as most significant for America's white-dominated society. Oral theologies are thus just as influential and meaningful as abstract formulations of the Christian faith. Theologically, the EPCC appears to be dominated by the propositional language of classical Pentecostalism, based on hellenistic interpretations of historical Christianity which may be of declining relevance for today's drastic upheavals in non-western societies. As an example, the phenomenon of joy and praise in spirituality and style, e.g., in Afropentecostal worship in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe, and in most “churches of the Spirit” in the South, does not sustain the (still repeated) deprivation thesis. Oral theologies are not the subject of the “lesser educated” and “deprived.” Cox speaks of the importance of an adequate critical theology of culture.

What are some of the implications of such a global and critical theological approach? The first concerns the overall downplay of the tragic Pentecostal apartheid history, as if adaptation to mainstream society in disrespect of Azusa's prophetic spirit was inevitable. Almost totally omitted are the contributions of Black Pentecostalism to Azusa, its missionaries and developments worldwide. A more global and critical approach would have mentioned the black/white encounter in camp meetings and the Holiness movement; black musical empowerment in style and ministry; early black leadership (besides Seymour and Mason) of Haywood, Lawson, S. Williams, et al.; present-day black televangelists such as Jakes, Patterson, Blake, Bryant, et al.; the impact of the “Sanctified Church”; an alternative exegesis of the “Curse on Ham”; the explosion of Black indigenous Pentecostalism in the Caribbean and, through migration, in Europe; and critical black scholarship in these areas (e.g., Journal of Black Theology). More serious attention would have been given to scholars (besides Clemmons) such as Tinney, Lovett, Richardson, Sanders, et al., for America, Oosthuizen, Daneel, Kalu, Larbi et al., for Africa, Campos, Ramierez, Sepulveda, et al., for Latin America, and the “Birmingham school” with Nelson, Gaxiola, Gerloff, Gill, McRobert, and recently Beckford.

A related issue is the failure to observe and analyse institutional racism and the issue of racial justice in American churches. Not the Church of God (Cleveland) (p.174) but the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (p. 402) was the most “integrated” Pentecostal body. The description of the Memphis Miracle misses out on that point. With D. Muir: "Although the Memphis colloquy was intended to signal a defining moment in inter-Pentecostal race relations… – engendering racial reconciliation and ‘the birth of a new multi-racial Pentecostal fellowship’ – it failed miserably not only because it privileged the black-white matrix of social encounter above all other encounters, but also because it disclosed the underdevelopment and insularity of Pentecostal thinking and understanding of contemporary discourse on race, discrimination and cultural hegemony and the kind of practical and political actions (‘fruits of repentance’) necessary for meaningful reconciliation" (see Muir’s doctoral thesis on the CGC, London 2004). It should also be said that racism is not merely an issue in white- dominated societies such as North America, Britain, and Europe as a whole, but deeply related to Eurocentrism and Amerocentrism in general.

This raises the question regarding the “Antecedents” or pre-dating movements or Pentecostalism. Azusa is acknowledged in its interracial, intercultural, and gender-crossing impact as the “watershed” for Pentecostalism worldwide, more publicised than other outpourings. But research shows that there have been similar uprisings with signs and miracles not only in the history of eastern and western churches, but also in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean before Azusa, such as the Jamaica Revival, the Mukti Mission in India, the Korean renewal or the early beginnings of the AICs. This confirms Azusa as a touchstone for Pentecostalism in general, but also modifies it in favour of multiple centres. It raises the question whether the Three Waves hypothesis may have to be re-considered by adding a fourth (with overlapping chronologies): Indigenous, Classical, Charismatic, and Neo-Charismatic. 

There is also the issue of the unresolved debate between Trinitarian and Oneness Pentecostals. The book, with the Trinitarian view at the “very centre,” presents the controversy in merely doctrinal, not to say metaphysical terms, without any reference to the cultural and racial history underlying the “new issue.” The black wing emphasized the baptismal formula of the early church rather than speculative considerations about the inner nature of the Godhead articulated by the white wing. Blacks called themselves “Apostolic,” not Oneness, in devotion to the “power of the Name of Jesus” and the fight against discrimination and injustice. Taken by followers to the Caribbean, Britain and beyond, they overcame separation within Pentecostalism by a biblical triadic emphasis and the surrender to Jesus as the sole saviour and reconciler (see Gerloff's doctoral case study on Oneness [Apostolic] Pentecostalism in Peter Lang, 1992). Along these lines, the encyclopedia would have been better served with articles on Spirit Christology and Apostolic beliefs and practices worldwide.

Finally, the description of Ecumenical relations is one-sided in excluding all efforts by denominations, councils, mission agencies outside the U.S. Except for the achievements of Du Plessis, dialogues are portrayed as happening between Americans and either the Vatican or the World Council of Churches (WCC). To omit ongoing bridge-building attempts by Churches Together in Britain, the Council of Churches in Ghana or South Africa, educational projects like the Centre for Black and White Christian Partnership, similar developments in Germany, the African Diaspora in Europe project, or the European Korean Council, etc., is inexcusable. The WCC after Canberra held consultations not only with Latin American Pentecostals but with AICs and Black Pentecostals in the UK.

Symptomatically, the bibliographies are largely dominated by white American scholars. They could have been more concise, perhaps adding an amalgamated bibliography with subdivisions at the end, and authors' names included in the index. Some pictures are rather static and unmarked by traditions and “colours.” Constant repetitions or double entries – e.g., on Charismata and Gifts of the Spirit, Sanctification and Second Work of Grace, and the Parham/Seymour relationship – could have been avoided by a proper system of cross-referencing. Gaps to be filled in future editions are (to name a few) an update on AICs, Black Pentecostalism, Europe and Music, and new articles such as Caribbean, Dance, Economics, Environment, Foot washing, Migration and Mission, Origins (including Black Roots), Pietism, Pneumatology(!), Poverty, Power, Racism, Syncretism, Sexuality, and Womanism.

Despite these shortcomings, this volume is a must for those who want to widen their knowledge about this vibrant movement in the new millennium and ask the relevant questions concerning its further expansion. It serves as an indispensable instrument for all interested in exploring new trajectories of pentecostal-charismatic praxis, theory, research and methodology, in the light of constant transcultural, transmigratory and diasporic developments.




Zuletzt verändert: 25.07.2008 17:55