Book Review 5: Global Pentecostalism, Miller

Chapter 1:  Global Pentecostalism, An Emergent Force within World Christianity

The growth of Pentecostalism stems from its attractiveness to those enduring social instability, by providing “ordered community”, its worship style, neighborly love, and connection to the spiritual.  The authors have identified several types of Pentecostal expression in the church:  classical Pentecostalism, indigeonous Pentecostalism, independent Neo-Pentecostalism, the charismatic renewal movement, and proto-charismatic Christians.  They have also identified four emphases of Pentecostalism:  holiness (described by the authors as “legalistic and otherworldly”), prosperity gospel, integral or holistic gospel, and routinized Pentecostalism.  The authors identified three ways in which Pentecostalism has the potential to bring about social change:  Marx’s view of religion as simply dulling the pain of the people, having an incremental impact on social welfare, and its focus on human rights.

Chapter 2:  Progressive Pentecostals Ministries, Beliefs and Motivations

The authors identified eight types of services, ministries and outreaches.  These are often based more on development rather than strictly assistance and many of the Pentecostal churches are working in cooperation with NGO’s and governmental agencies.  Pentecostal churches aim to be sensitive to the needs of their communities and build social programs accordingly.  Through Progressive Pentecostalism, the idea has evolved that evangelism should never be separated from the care of the whole person, integrative or holistic gospel. 

Chapter 3:  Building a New generation Programs Serving Children and Youth

Progressive Pentecostal churches place heavy emphasis on serving the children in their communities, often at-risk children.  In many instances they are doing more than providing for the physical needs of the children; they are confronting systemic issues.

Chapter 4:  Practicing the Faith Transforming Individuals and Society

Progressive Pentecostals embrace the power of the Holy Spirit and emphasize personal transformation.  They set up medical clinics, work with AIDS patients, support sex workers and drug addicts, as well as many other marginalized people groups and provide the opportunity for transformation.  They actively engage with society to pursue justice and bring about society-wide change.

Chapter 5:  Encounters with the Holy Meeting God in Worship and Prayer

Chapter five attempts to describe the various aspects of Pentecostal worship and prayer, music and dance, speaking in tongues, laying on of hands, healings and other gifts of the Spirit.

Chapter 6:  Born in the Image of God Democracy and Upward Social Mobility

Chapter six questions whether or not Pentecostalism can raise individuals and societies out of poverty and lower social standing.  The emphasis of Pentecostal churches on the priesthood of all believers and the equality that results from that stance is strongly appealing to the poor.  However, Pentecostalism generally looks at the problem of poverty through individuals, rather than at the systemic and structural causes of poverty.

Chapter 7:  Organizing the Saints Giving the Ministry to the People

The organization of many growing Pentecostal churches is not of the pyramidal shape embraced by the Catholic church, but rather is organic in nature, in constant flux and dependent on each of the members.  Pentecostals believe all member have gifts, which should be nurtured and developed so they can be used for the edification of the church.  Many churches embrace the idea of cell groups to organize their members.  While many of the leaders are highly educated, many do not have much theological training.  Women are engaged in ministry.

Chapter 8:  The Future of Progressive Pentecostalism

This final chapter the authors summarize their review of Progressive Pentecostalism.  They believe the most empowering element of the Pentecostal movement is the worship experience.  It provides a mind-body connection that encourages Pentecostal believers as they engage in community-based social ministries.

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