The Impact of Culture and Social Justice on Christian Formation in Pentecostalism

In: Journal of Pentecostal Theology
Wolfgang VondeyDepartment of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2 tt, UK,

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The essay contrasts two distinct ways of Pentecostal formation: (1) social activism and (2) social passivism. The former identifies Christian formation as participation and leadership in the struggle against poverty, deprivation, and oppression; the latter withdraws into a sectarian mindset of individualism, self-improvement, and triumphalism. A focus on Asia, Africa, Latin America, and North America brings the two accounts into dialogue on the identity of contemporary Pentecostal formation. The results suggest that Christian formation among Pentecostals is confronted with significant diversity influenced by cultural and socioeconomic factors. Johns’ classic study of Pentecostal formation and its emphasis on conscientization leading to redemptive participation in the struggle among the oppressed demands further attention. This essay shows that conscientization among Pentecostals is not only a psychological and sociocritical form of assessment but a personal and communal coming to consciousness subject to long-term cultural influences and sociohistorical developments.

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