CHRISTIAN INDEPENDENCY AND GLOBAL MEMBERSHIP: PENTECOSTAL EXTRAVERSIONS IN MALAWI

in Journal of Religion in Africa
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Abstract

Recent scholarship on Pentecostalism in Africa has debated issues of transnationalism, globalisation and localisation. Building on Bayart's notion of extraversion, this scholarship has highlighted Pentecostals' far-flung networks as resources in the growth and consolidation of particular movements and leaders. This article examines strategies of extraversion among independent Pentecostal churches. The aim is less to assess the historical validity of claims to independency than to account for its appeal as a popular idiom. The findings from fieldwork in a Malawian township show that half of the Pentecostal churches there regard themselves as 'independent'. Although claims to independency arise from betrayals of the Pentecostal promise of radical equality in the Holy Spirit, independency does sustain Pentecostals' desire for membership in a global community of believers. Pentecostal independency thus provides a perspective on African engagements with the apparent marginalisation of the sub-continent in the contemporary world. Two contrasting cases of Pentecostal independency reveal similar aspirations and point out the need to appreciate the religious forms of extraversion. Crucial to Pentecostal extraversions are believers' attempts to subject themselves to a spiritually justified hierarchy.

CHRISTIAN INDEPENDENCY AND GLOBAL MEMBERSHIP: PENTECOSTAL EXTRAVERSIONS IN MALAWI

in Journal of Religion in Africa

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