Item description for Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement [With DVD] by Donald E. Miller & Tetsunao Yamamori...
How and why is Christianity's center of gravity shifting to the developing world? To understand this rapidly growing phenomenon, Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori spent four years traveling the globe conducting extensive on-the-ground research in twenty different countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. The result is this vividly detailed book and accompanying DVD, which together contain the most comprehensive information available on Pentecostalism, the fastest-growing religion in the world. Rich with scenes from everyday life, the book and DVD dispel many stereotypes about this religion as they build a wide-ranging, nuanced portrait of a major new social movement. The DVD features footage of Pentecostal religious worship, testimony, and social activism, and includes interviews with Pentecostal pastors and leaders from around the world.
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Studio: University of California Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.1" Width: 6.2" Height: 0.9" Weight: 1.14 lbs.
Release Date Sep 3, 2007
Publisher University of California Press
ISBN 0520251938 ISBN13 9780520251939
Availability 0 units.
More About Donald E. Miller & Tetsunao Yamamori
Donald Miller, Professor of Religion and Executive Director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California, is the author of Reinventing American Protestantism (UC Press) and editor of Gen X Religion, among other books. Tetsunao Yamamori, President Emeritus of Food for the Hungry International and Senior Fellow of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California, is the author and editor of two dozen books including Exploring Religious Meaning and Penetrating Missions' Final Frontier.
Donald E. Miller has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Southern California.
Reviews - What do customers think about Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement?
The New Form of Christian Social Engagement? Apr 24, 2008
Although I am a third-generation Assemblies of God minister, I am something of an outsider in my own movement. I was educated at non-Pentecostal schools (Wheaton and Fuller) and spent a good chunk of my career at a non-AG church. The duality of my experience as an insider and outsider gives me a unique perspective on the AG specifically and Pentecostalism more generally.
As an insider, I support, promote, and defend our unique perspective on Christian spirituality. As an outsider, however, I recognize how odd we must appear to outsiders. Just how odd came home to me while reading Global Pentecostalism by Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori. In Chapter 5, "Encounters with the Holy: Meeting God in Worship and Prayer," they describe the dynamics of Pentecostal worship services, including how we make use of physical space in our auditoriums, how noisy we are, the flow of our worship services, how we pray and speak in tongues and prophesy and exorcise demons, etc. As an insider, I have experienced these kinds of services. But as an outsider, I know how alien they must be to a liberal Episcopalian academic (Miller) and an evangelical humanitarian (Yamamori). Despite being aliens to Pentecostalism, Miller and Yamamori both in this chapter and throughout the book offer a sympathetic and generally objective account of Pentecostals.
Unfortunately, as outsiders to the movement, they think they have discovered something novel about Pentecostalism that in fact isn't, namely, social engagement. "The thesis of this book," Miller and Yamamori write, "is that Pentecostals are increasingly engaged in community-based social ministries." Miller and Yamamori admit that "there have been examples of compassionate social service" throughout Pentecostalism's history. What is new, they argue, is the embrace of "a holistic understanding of the Christian faith" that balances, in imitation of Jesus, evangelism and social concern. For the authors, this holistic understanding "reflects the increasing maturation of Pentecostalism as it develops from being an otherworldly sect to a dominant influence in reshaping global Christianity." They term this emergent movement within global Pentecostalism as "Progressive Pentecostalism."
Miller and Yamamori offer an eight-fold typology of Progressive Pentecostalism's social ministries:
1. Mercy ministries (providing food, clothing, shelter) 2. Emergency services (responding to floods, famine, earthquakes) 3. Education (providing day care, schools, tuition assistance) 4. Counseling services (helping with addiction, divorce, depression) 5. Medical assistance (establishing health clinics, dental clinics, psychological services) 6. Economic development (providing microenterprise loans, job training, affordable housing) 7. The arts (training in music, dance, drama) 8. Policy change (opposing corruption, monitoring elections, advocating a living wage)
Some of these ministries, such as economic development and policy change, are new to Pentecostalism. Then again, microenterprise loans are a relatively new concept in humanitarianism generally. But Pentecostalism has been performing these other ministries from the start. Within the Assemblies of God, for example, one thinks of Lillian Thrasher's orphanage in Assiout, Egypt, which began in response to a specific need in 1910. (The orphanage was founded before the denomination and became an AG work in 1919.) Or one thinks of Teen Challenge - the ministry to drug addicts - which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Or one thinks of Mark and Helen Buntain, who founded numerous social ministries in Calcutta, India, including a hospital and nursing school, decades ago. Or one thinks of Latin America Child Care, providing education, healthcare, and nutrition to poor Latin American children since 1963. My point? Social ministries are not new to the Assemblies of God particularly, nor Pentecostalism more generally.
Perhaps Miller and Yamamori's point is on the word increasingly in their thesis. But if that's the case, they need to demonstrate rather than assert that Pentecostals are now more involved in social ministries than they used to be. Or perhaps Miller and Yamamori's point is on the holistic understanding that is emerging in Pentecostalism. But even here, I would argue that Pentecostals' response to social need is more pragmatic than ideological. The authors tell the story of Mama Maggie, a wealthy Pentecostal Cairene who began a ministry to the children of Cairo's garbage dumps. Why did she do this? Because of a change in theology? No, on Miller and Yamamori's account, she did it because of an encounter with a young girl who lived in those dumps. Most of the people who started the social ministries the authors report on started those ministries for similar reasons. They pragmatically responded to a concrete need they encountered. The change in theological principle came later. I would suggest that this kind of pragmatism in the face of tragedy is pretty much the same experience that drove Lillian Trasher, David Wilkerson, the Buntains, and John Bueno to start the social ministries they did.
Having criticized Miller and Yamamori on this central point of their thesis, however, I do think the authors are on to something about the dynamics of Pentecostal social ministry. This has to do with what they call the "S factor." S, in case you were wondering, stands for "Spirit." Here is what the authors write about the connection between Pentecostal experience and social ministry:
"In reflecting on the question of what is the single most important element that empowers Progressive Pentecostals, the answer unequivocally is the energizing experience of worship. While organizational structure is an important ingredient, the driving force behind the social ministries of Pentecostals is their experience of the Spirit in moments of worship--both corporate and private. The work of doing social ministry is not easy; it requires ministering to people who are often sick, despairing, and living on the margins of society. If one is going to assist these individuals, then one needs hope. And, equally important, one needs to transmit this hope to others with a spirit of joy. Otherwise the task becomes dreary and, for many, unsustainable."
The temptation in the academy is to view Pentecostalism (and religion more generally) in reductive and functionalistic terms. It is the opiate of the people (Marx) or the celebration of communal values (Durkheim). While admitting that these functions can play a role in explaining the rise of global Pentecostalism, Miller and Yamamori are to be commended for thinking that an experience with the divine might be a more parsimonious explanation of its growth and social engagement.