Chapter 3 Signs of Power: Christians’ Search for Certainty in Troubled Times (1906–1919)

In: The Church as Safe Haven
Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye
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This chapter examines the early history of the Apostolic Faith Church and the True Jesus Church to show charismatic Chinese Christians’ active search for sensory and textual evidence. Both the Apostolic Faith Church and True Jesus Church claimed that their beliefs and practices were rooted in a universal cosmic power manifest through external signs and wonders that would be experienced with the senses. Hence these charismatic churches paradoxically sought stability (a feeling of security that their teachings and practices were correct) through verification of God’s power manifest in destabilizing, awe-inspiring miracles of tongues, exorcism, visions, healing, and other anomalous events. Within these churches, individuals worked to build strong infrastructure to seek, preserve, and promulgate charismatic signs underscoring the reliability and substance of their Christian worldview. This search was not simply a search for the sensational but was motivated by a desire to validate and authorize the churches’ specific theologies and moral ideologies in a time of ideological instability.

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