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Global Pentecostalism in the 21st Century, reviewed by Dave Johnson

Robert W. Hefner, ed., Global Pentecostalism in the 21st Century (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2013), ISBN 9780253010810.

This book lives up to its claim to study global Pentecostalism, not because it covers it country by country, but because it is grounded in the places in the world where Pentecostalism has had a major impact on society. These places are Brazil, sub-Saharan Africa, China, Russia and the Ukraine, India and the Philippines. However, the case of the Philippines, the reflections relate mainly to the Catholic Charismatic Movement, the largest Pentecostal/charismatic group in the country.

The book is written from a sociological point of view and the focus is detailing Pentecostalism’s impact on things like economics, community life, and politics. Other issues, such as one’s relationship with God and dealing with the ever-present spirit world in the Majority World, are noted (p. 116) but not considered in depth.

The layout of the book is straightforward and not divided into sections. Following Hefner’s introductory chapter, “The Unexpected Modern—Gender, Piety and Politics in the Global Pentecostal Surge,” there are a total of eight lengthy chapters. (1) “Pentecostalism: An Alternative Form of Modernity and Modernization,” by David Martin. (2) “The Future of Pentecostalism in Brazil: The Limits to Growth,” by Paul Freston. (3) “Social Mobility and Politics in African Pentecostal Modernity,” by David Maxwell. (4) “Tensions and Trends in Pentecostal Gender and Family Relations,” by Bernice Martin. (5) “Gender, Modernity, and Pentecostal Christianity in China,” by Nanlai Cao. (6) “The Routinization of Soviet Pentecostalism and the Liberation of Charisma in Russia and Ukraine,” by Christopher Marsh and Artyom Tonoyan. (7) “Pentecost amid Pujas: Charismatic Christianity and Dalit Women in Twenty-First Century India,” by Rebecca Samuel Shah and Timothy Samuel Shah. (8) “Politics, Education and Civic Participation: Catholic Charismatic Modernities in the Philippines,” by Katharine L. Wiegele. Peter Berger’s afterward then sums up the book excellently by tying the articles together.

Personal transformation also brings positive to change to families and communities. Men no longer visit the bars and brothels and pour their resources into their families instead, providing social lift. Women, who are often oppressed in male dominated societies, find their voices in the Pentecostal Movement.

Hefner’s introductory article sets the tone for the others and many of the items I refer to here that are mentioned in his article reflect the thoughts of some of the other authors as well. He admits that the explosive growth caught sociologists by surprise (p. 1) as some, apparently, were predicting Pentecostalism’s demise.

As Hefner and others note (p. 9) Pentecostalism focuses much more on personal rebirth or transformation than social structural change. All authors report, however, that the personal transformation also brings positive to change to families and communities. Men no longer visit the bars and brothels and pour their resources into their families instead, providing social lift. Women, who are often oppressed in male dominated societies, find their voices in the Pentecostal Movement. Martin, for example, mentions that women are often used in prophecy (p. 38). Transformed individuals then, do positively impact broader society.

A lot of attention is given throughout the book to the impact of the prosperity gospel in the Majority World. Much of the impact has been positive, although the prosperity gospel in these regions is much less focused on money than its American counterpart and appears to be more along the line of Yonggi Cho’s three-fold blessing prosperity gospel based on 3 John 2.

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Category: Fall 2018, Ministry

About the Author: Dave Johnson, M.Div., D.Miss. (Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines), is an Assemblies of God missionary to the Philippines. Dave and his wife Debbie have been involved in evangelism, church planting, and Bible school and mission leadership. Dave is the Managing Editor of Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, the director of APTS Press in Baguio City, Philippines and coordinator for the Asian Pentecostal Theological Seminary's Master of Theology Program. http://apts.academia.edu/DaveJohnson Facebook Twitter

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