Globalization and the Pentecostal

by André Droogers


The characteristic of Pentecostalism that seems to have attracted most attention, is its rapid expansion. Latin American Pentecostalism is a particular case in point, and as such has been the subject of considerable study from the 1960s onwards. More recently, Pentecostal growth in other continents has also become the object of research.

The interpretations given to Pentecostal expansion have differed in line with each author's paradigmatic preference. Some, for instance, have worked from a modernization perspective (e.g. Pentecostals make good citizens of modern society), whereas others have taken a neo-Marxist starting-point (e.g. Pentecostals seek relief from oppression or resist it in their own particular way). In the 1990s, partly as an elaboration and emendation of previous approaches, the concept of globalization has come to the fore (e.g. Pentecostalism flourishes under the conditions that globalization creates, or is even part of that process).

In any case, now as before, whatever the theoretical framework, most attention is given to factors that are external to Pentecostalism itself. Only rarely are specific characteristics of Pentecostalism taken into account and a more idiosyncratic explanation sought. This might be a consequence of the secular scholar's amazement, en vogue since Marx and Durkheim, that what in the end can only be interpreted as an illusion nevertheless persists. Since the supernatural is denied reality, the explanation is sought in the impact of non-religious factors - social, economic, or political - thus ignoring the role possibly played by the religious convictions of its believers.

In this chapter, an effort is made, taking the cultural anthropology of religion as a disciplinary frame of reference, to take a closer look at the internal religious characteristics of Pentecostalism and their articulation within the external circumstances of globalization. I propose to do this because I believe that if the starting point is the prevailing external social processes, then we will never be able to do justice to the specifics of a particular religion such as Pentecostalism, because these social processes usually affect other religions as well, expanding or otherwise. The particularities of a specific religious situation are usually insufficiently explained in the light of these external processes alone. Thus, during one particular period, Pentecostal churches, Umbanda temples and Catholic Church Base Communities were all growing in urban Brazil, and all were operating under similar social, political and economic circumstances. Without, of course, denying the impact of these conditions, I would like to suggest that the search for a more complete explanation for the expansion of these religions, should start from the particularities of a specific religion and proceed from there to the influence of, and articulation with, external social processes. Only in such a case, would it be possible to clarify why different religious reactions to similar processes occur and why a new adherent opts for one of the religions on the market, rather than another.(1)

This article first discusses the theoretical framework used. This will be followed by a description of the three main characteristics which most Pentecostal churches seem to have. Subsequently, as a counterpoint, the diversity within Pentecostalism will be shown. In the next section, we will look at external factors often mentioned in reports on Pentecostal growth published in the last few decades. This discussion will then lead us into an appraisal of the current process of globalization. The set of particular aspects so typical of Pentecostalism, both in its commonness and in its diversity, will then be confronted with the characteristics of the globalization process. In conclusion, the relevance of this confrontation in explaining current Pentecostal expansion, will be examined.


Some theoretical issues

Even when in explanatory discourse priority is given to the typical religious particularities, the complex nature of the connection between religion and society should also be taken into account. A plea to use the religion itself as the starting point, does not necessarily mean that there is a causal one-way relation between the religious and the social, not even in the case of a religion such as Pentecostalism, with its clearly marked boundaries and a large degree of autonomy, or even of opposition, with regard to the surrounding culture and society. Any religion can influence non-religious social processes, just as it too can be influenced by them, and just as some degree of correlation, or complementarity, can exist between religion and social processes. The purpose of this article, then, is not to prove that Pentecostal expansion is an internally propelled phenomenon, unfettered by the external social conditions that surround it. That would be as one-sided as a sociological reductionism of religious expansion to those same social conditions, in this case globalization. To refuse either form of unilaterality, means that some view on the mutual implications of the interaction between religion and society must be developed. This would amount to summarizing the whole history of the discipline of the anthropology (and sociology) of religion, a task far beyond the scope of this article. In the light of recent insights, however, I do feel that a few useful remarks can be made.(2)

As long as the discipline has existed, cultural anthropology has struggled with its self-imposed distinctions, all of which reflect the cultural context in which it developed as a science, in this case, Western society and Western cultures. The attention given to globalization and to the world as a global village, has reopened the debate on these issues. The basic questions raised here are : How does the autonomy of cultures relate to contact between them? How are the order and continuity a cultural framework guarantees reconciled with rupture and change? Does culture make people (a culturalist view) or do people make culture (a constructivist view)? To what degree is a culture homogeneous? How are the universal human and the particular cultural related?

These general questions are not valid for cultures alone, but for religions as well, including Pentecostalism, especially when studying their connection with the globalization process. How autonomous is a religion such as Pentecostalism? More specific questions can be added, of course, particularly with regard to its relations with the social and cultural context. Does religion reflect society around it, and compromise with it, or does it stand in opposition to its central values? Has this position been inspired by religious views and experiences? Does it determine its adepts' identity or is there room for individual initiative? When Pentecostalism spreads to other cultures, how does its specific character relate to that of those other cultures and to human nature in general? And how does this relate to the internal organization of that religion?

In the culturalist perspective, culture - including religion as a cultural phenomenon - is viewed as a more or less fixed and autonomous complex of ideas and actions shared by the members of a human group and through which they are socialized. It guarantees continuity and order, just as it facilitates identification by individual group members with its central ideas and values, with standard behaviour and with their fellow-group members. Correspondingly, identity is understood, in an essentialist way, as a constant and consistent self-understanding, the hard core of the cultural personality. Since Pentecostalism is often depicted as strict and even as fundamentalist, as well as influential in determining a person's attitude to life, a culturalist approach might at first sight seem adequate.

In the globalizing setting, typical of the current situation, however, the boundaries of these autonomous cultures are becoming ever more perforated. One might even say that religions have played a major role in perforating cultural boundaries, in spreading their messages to people of cultures not previously primarily associated with them. In any case, the times of splendid cultural isolation, if ever they existed, are now well and truly over. It follows, then, that a constructivist critique of the culturalist view is to be recommended, because it does justice to individual initiatives and to global change, in the same way that it also points to dynamism, flexibility and difference. People construct their identity in an unessentialist and strategic way, depending on the context, and using elements from multiple selves, as a large and nowadays intercultural repertoire of scripts.(3) Cultural reality, therefore, is understood to be in a constant state of shift and fragmentation, with an ever-growing library of scripts. New religions, including Pentecostalism, add to it their own scripts, just as do all the other partners in the globalization process.

However, this constructivism should not swing to the other extreme, where all is in a state of change and profound chaos. Order and dynamism, culturalism and constructivism, therefore, should all be components of a framework that can serve to clarify the relationship between religion and society. In the case under examination here, this means that Pentecostalism should not be thought of as a phenomenon with a constant, more or less fixed, autonomous position, nor as a constantly adapting and cameleontic religion. We will have instead to look for unity in diversity and diversity in unity. Similarly, Pentecostals should not be seen as persons with a fixed religious position, nor as champions in adapting to changing circumstances. It is much more a question of studying the localized form which basic Pentecostalism adopts in specific cases.

To this a remark must be added about the relationship between the actors and their social context. Neither the one-sided determinism of culturalism, nor the equally one-sided voluntarism of constructivism, offer very much help in understanding how e.g. Pentecostal actors operate in the globalizing world. These protagonists are both constrained and empowered by their social context; they submit to socialization and social control, just as they act in their own idiosyncratic way and may thus take innovative initiatives that will appeal to others and which, in the end, may change those constraining structures, be they symbolic or social. Each religion has its own typical constellation of views on the transcendental, as well as the internal and external organizational elements that together define the margins within which its actors operate. The production of meaning and the distribution of power, therefore, are closely related. Thus in the case of Christianity, a church may represent a state religion, or even imitate the state in its own organization. It may also - and that is the other extreme - oppose the core values of a given society or state, and organize itself into a kind of small alternative society. And between these two extremes, numerous types can arise. In each case, it is the religious views which underpin the legitimation of the position taken.

On a much wider scale, globalization processes have led to renewed attention being focused on the tension between the common and the particular, between the universally human and the specifically cultural. If everyone in the world were submitted to the same global processes, that which is common to all mankind would obviously receive more attention than that which is exclusively cultural. Contact between people of different cultures exploits the source of common humanity. Whereas both a culturalist and a constructivist approach appear to emphasize particularity, be it at the culture or actor level, the common human element will always need to be taken into account as well. In the case of Pentecostalism, this element is important, because similar trance-like phenomena occur in other religions, and yet they remain typically Pentecostal by virtue of the concrete form they take. Just as the human gift for culture can only be observed in actual cultures, so too can what is universally human only be studied in the context of its concrete manifestations.

It has to be said, therefore, that attempts to study the way in which universal human potential is used and interpreted, in no way contradict the approach advocated earlier in this chapter, from which to embark on an explanation of Pentecostal growth from the premise of its own particular religious characteristics. A tool can be put to many uses, and Pentecostals have become extremely adept at adopting their own applications and interpretations, often quite differently from those more typical of e.g. the Brazilian Umbandists or Siberian shamans. Similarly, the fact that culture is a human universal is no contradiction of the cultural variety that exists in the world.

In short, when studying Pentecostal success within the context of globalization, the spotlight must inevitably fall on both its culturalist and constructivist dimensions, and so too on those human elements apparently so typical of human beings in all times and places, regardless of their cultural or religious particularity.


Some common characteristics

Despite apparent diversity within the world of Pentecostalism which I will discuss in the next section, something can nevertheless be said in a more general, more or less 'culturalist', way about common Pentecostal features. This is particularly so when the ultimate goal is to understand Pentecostal expansion within the context of globalization and in terms of its internal religious characteristics. There is, of course, some unity in diversity, as is illustrated by the internal characteristics of the churches and other Pentecostal or charismatic groups. Whilst some of these characteristics might readily be mentioned by Pentecostals themselves, some are more striking to the outside observer. In elaborating on these characteristics, it should be clear that they too appear in diverse forms and that we are dealing here with ideal types. Healing through exorcism, for example, is certainly not the same everywhere. I once witnessed how an Argentinian pastor, for instance, exorcized the 'demon of economic problems'. Local variations mean that an over-essentialist picture of Pentecostalism needs to be avoided.

A good starting-point may be the central place given to the presence of the Holy Spirit, as experienced in the gifts of healing, speaking in tongues (glossolalia), and prophecy, all of which have the human body as their locus. These gifts, or charismata, are available in principle to all the faithful through conversion and baptism in the Spirit. A convert who acquires the capacity to use these gifts adds something to her or his own identity, in the purely essentialist sense of the term. He or she becomes 'somebody' by virtue of the extra value which these gifts carry with them, firstly in terms of the personal life of the convert, and secondly in terms of his or her contacts with others. The constructivist comment, of course, would be that what really matters is what the person actually does with his/her potential. When these gifts are directed in particular to people in need, the effect is to increase that person's identity and value, even though he or she will always and everywhere proclaim that the glory is God's and God's alone. On the other hand, outsiders may have difficulty in appreciating, or even recognizing, the value of this aspect of an individual's Pentecostal identity. The generous distribution of the gifts of the Spirit is, of course, the ideal image; the reality might be different, because not all members display the same gifts in the same way, despite doctrinary equality. Some communities may focus more attention on one particular charisma.

Secondly, there is the conversion experience, which is often related to the first experience of the charismata. To many Pentecostals, conversion is a dramatic personal event, by far the most important of their lives. And when it is linked to the experience of the Spirit, it has a strong physical component. Its consequences are felt in daily life, twenty-four hours a day, as it were, seven days a week. After conversion, the claim of the faith on the lives of its converts is - at least formally - total and absolute. In giving witness to their conversion, most people divide their lives into pre- and post-conversion periods. The watershed is a primal or proleptic spiritual experience that fundamentally changes the parameters of his or her life.(4) The obtention of the gifts of the Holy Spirit usually has the effect of solving an existential problem and continues to be an important and healing resource in the ongoing struggle for life. In this context, healing must be understood in a very wide sense, including non-medical problems such unemployment or conflicts with others. At the very moment of their conversion, people embark on a new life. The 'rebirth' metaphor is common, and is also implicit in baptism through total immersion as a physical experience. Again, we are dealing here with an ideal image, and we should bear in mind that membership includes believers who have not necessarily gone through such a dramatic experience or who do not succeed in living up to the high claims of the model, full-time, Pentecostal.

Conversion often means that a person takes leave of customs in his or her culture that are considered sinful and demonic. This may lead to the church being seen as an alternative cultural community, that substitutes the dominant culture in important respects and that may even demand the rupture of kinship ties with non-converts. In a tribal context, the brothers and sisters of the church may form a new tribe, as it were. The original culture will not fully disappear from the lives of such converts, but it will undergo profound changes and only those aspects that are considered harmless remain.

This leads us to a third characteristic, the so-called duality of the Pentecostal world-view. In a simple and clear manner, just as in the division of a personal life history into pre- and post-conversion phases, so too is the world divided in two parts; i.e. that of God and his believers, and that of the devil and his followers. The Pentecostal convert moves from the second to the first and feels saved in consequence. Both in the social and the personal sense, the convert takes sides in the war that is said to wage between these two parts of the world. In comparison to the evil world, the believer in fleeing from its sinfulness, is seen to have taken the right decision. Once this fundamental choice has been made, the convert's life becomes both transparant and comprehensible. This helpful and therapeutic world-view should therefore be brought to others, indeed to as many as possible. Such a rich experience cannot be kept to oneself. There is a certain 'narrative compulsion'(5) in many Pentecostals, and the experience becomes truly self-fulfilling when transmitted to others. The more people accept the message, the better the world will be, until the devil is finally defeated. All people who share in the gifts of the Spirit are, in consequence, obliged to spread the 'good news'.

To sum up : despite much diversity, Pentecostals share much in common, although the concrete forms in which these common characteristics are manifested may differ from one church to another, from one country to another, and even within one church on different occasions. Pentecostals share the gifts of the Holy Spirit and in doing so experience a dramatic conversion experience, through which they are introduced to a clear and dualist world-view.


Pentecostal diversity

The concept of Pentecostalism is, to a certain degree, very much a social science construct. The term covers a variety of forms, to such a degree even that it seems difficult to determine exactly what they all have in common. In view of this diversity, the constructivist approach would seem to be more applicable than the culturalist approach, discussed in the previous section. Despite being renowned for their strictness, one's first impression is that of a huge diversity in the types of churches and movements that choose to call themselves Pentecostal. First of all, there is much historical diversity. The first churches, founded at the beginning of this century, had a variety of precursors, thus ensuring diversity right from the start, and there is no doubt that the segregation of white and black churches contributed in no small measure to this diversity.(6) Within a very short time span, Pentecostal churches were founded throughout the Americas and Europe. They are all recognizable as Pentecostal churches, but at the same time they all have their own particular profiles, depending on their history and their cultural context.(7) One specific gift of the Spirit, such as healing, or exorcism, may receive more emphasis in a particular church. Although initially not identified as such, African independent churches later came to be seen as a type of Pentecostal church as well. And the charismatic movement, also worthy of the name 'Pentecostal' despite being part of mainstream churches, including the Roman Catholic Church(8), emerged from the early 1960s onwards. In the last few decades, a Neo-Pentecostal type has also become evident, although in a very different sense. The term has been used to refer to the charismatic movement referred to above.(9) Others use the term to label so-called Third Wave Pentecostals, who themselves come in a wide variety. One approach is to identify these churches as very actively seeking expansion, as having a middle-class orientation, with an emphasis on prosperity as a fruit of faith, and a 'health and wealth' message.(10)

Talking of historical diversity, it is of course quite possible for a church to change in the course of its history. For example, it does make a difference that, as was the case for the first 'founding' generation, the personal religious experience of the gifts of the Holy Spirit was already present or, as is often the case in succeeding generations, that the experience has to be taught and learned. Moreover, a successful church will inevitably change because the larger number of believers makes institutionalization necessary. A church may then have to start developing vertical and hierarchical structures, in seeming contradiction of the initial free and equal access of all its members to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The effect of this may be to herald in the slow demise of the enthusiasm that so typified its early years.(11) As a consequence, dissidents may decide to leave the church and join another, or even to found a new church and start the cycle all over again.

Besides diversity for historical reasons, therefore, there is also a social and organizational diversity, and the model of the autonomous church is, of course, a very common one. Many followers of the charismatic movement have often opted to remain loyal to their mainline churches, be they Roman Catholic or Protestant. Even when a church model is adopted, the size may differ enormously. At one extreme, there are the living-room churches with services being held at the leader's home, and at the other extreme we see multinational churches with a strong presence in many countries. Some churches construct an enormous cathedral-like prestigious central church building that can seat thousands of believers. Gender distribution may be another cause of variation; women are often in the majority, and usually under male leadership. Sometimes specialized work is

adopted, and it obviously makes a difference whether a church is active among youths, alcoholics, prisoners, intellectuals or hospital patients. A special case, best illustrated in the United States, is formed by pastors organizing their work as businesses, carrying expressive or personal names such as 'Full Gospel Healing Ministries', or 'John Johnson Exorcist

Ministries Inc.' Some make use of modern marketing and PR techniques, a business-type strategy that can also be found in some of the Pentecostal churches. Another significant social type is the organization surrounding a gifted evangelist who may travel around the world, appearing in huge local campaigns held in sports stadiums, and often in collaboration with local churches, but with his own core group as the real organizer and powerhouse. A good example of this is the Korean Paul Yonggi Cho and his 'Church Growth International'.(12)

There is also diversity with respect to political issues.(13) The almost stereotypical image is that of a Pentecostal church that, in the light of Romans 13, honours the authorities that be, even when they also happen to be dictators. But there have also been churches, albeit a small minority, that have defended a politically progressive stance and have formed part of the opposition against dictatorships. Chile in the 1970s and 1980s is a notorious example of this, with the majority of the Pentecostal churches remaining loyal to the Pinochet regime, whilst a few took an active dissenting role.(14) The South African, Frank Chikane(15), and the Brazilian, Benedita da Silva, are well-known examples of leftist Pentecostals active in politics.

And then there is diversity too in terms of the attitude towards other Pentecostals, let alone other Christians. On the one hand, there can be a very exclusivist and hostile attitude, especially on the part of Protestant Pentecostals towards Catholics, and this is sometimes reinforced by fundamentalist thinking. Unfortunately, the term 'fundamentalism' has no constant meaning; it has, for example, been rejected by groups of Neo-Pentecostals,(16) a fact, however, which has not prevented Brouwer et al.(17) from speaking in a general sense of Evangelicalism, including (Neo-)Pentecostalism, as fundamentalism. Although it is not my intention to deal here with this terminological problem, I would like to observe that much depends on the criteria applied: the authenticity of the sacred texts, anti-intellectualism, anti-modernism, anti-secularism, a defensive boundary-conscious attitude, a revivalist doctrinary retrieval from the past, etc. There is currently a vast amount of literature available on the topic, thanks partly to the Fundamentalism Project led by Marty and Appleby, who have edited several voluminous volumes.

On the other hand, there may be forms of cooperation among Pentecostals, such as when a famous evangelist visits various regions. In the Latin American context, Pentecostal churches have been known to cooperate at the neighbourhood level with liberationist Catholic church base communities in the interests of improving living conditions for their people. Some Pentecostal churches are members of international organizations and networks, including the mainstream ecumenical World Council of Churches, and several use ecumenical training institutes for the education of their pastors. Members of charismatic movements occupy a unique position because of their desire to actively operate within their own church and to renew it from the inside.

A final comment concerns a special source of diversity, i.e. Pentecostalism's capacity for the paradoxical combination of opposite characteristics.(18) A variety of seemingly contradictory scenarios are used according to context and need. There are several examples of this.

There is, thus, an eschatological, even an apocalyptical, tendency in Pentecostalism. Pentecostals live in expectation of the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God on earth. They also hold a long-term view of human history, although there is no question of postponing the treatment of affliction in anticipation of that moment, and the Pentecostal faith in the gifts of the Spirit also serves to solve small and large problems, here and now, and within a short-term perspective of human history.

Another example of this way of reconciling apparent opposites, is that Pentecostal believers despise the sinful world, and yet they participate and have even earned themselves a reputation of being responsible and reliable citizens and workers in it. Hunt et al. point to what they consider to be the main contradiction in (Neo-)Pentecostalism, i.e. 'that it appears to resist secularizing forces while simultaneously endorsing some aspects of present day culture'.(19) Similarly, traditional culture may, by and large, be condemned whilst even Pentecostals cannot escape cultural socialization completely.

The way in which equality and hierarchy are combined, also illustrates this facility to maintain a double perspective. Both forms of social management seem to belong to the Pentecostal repertoire and are used according to need and situation. Whereas, on the one hand, the gifts of the Spirit are there for all to experience, in a fundamentally equal distribution, it is also clear, especially in churches and groups with a strong degree of institutionalization, that hierarchical tendencies are present. This means, for example, that women's prominent openness to the gifts of the Spirit, in no way guarantees them a place in the hierarchy. Invertedly, men with no 'experience' of the gifts of the Spirit, may nevertheless rise to positions of authority.

The combination of opposite characteristics can also be detected in the simultaneous presence of spontaneity and control, or of individual expression and social conformity. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit seems to stimulate the free expression of emotions; people sometimes give tearful witness to their faith. The moment of prayer offers opportunity for loud, simultaneous, personal prayer, which to the outsider may seem like utter chaos. And yet the reverse side of the hierarchy coin is control, and the pastor usually has his own codes for bringing this spontaneous part of the service to an appropriate end. Making apt use of the microphone and loudspeakers, his 'Hallelujah, Amen', and the intonation of a hymn, will clearly mark the transition to the next part of the service.

The paradoxical combination of opposite characteristics represents a source of tension, especially when factions find themselves defending opposite views. This may, at first sight, seem negative for the Pentecostal cause, but in reality division often leads to multiplication when dissidents establish a new preaching-point, or even a new church, thus enlarging the Pentecostal presence.


Contextual factors

Now that Pentecostalism's unity and diversity have been duly sketched, it is time to discuss the problem of explaining the Pentecostal success story. The first step is to make an inventory of reductionist explanations put forward since the 1960s. In the next section, we will focus on the recently-introduced concept of 'globalization'.

Where Pentecostals themselves have attributed the expansion of their churches and movement to the workings of the Holy Spirit, social scientists have looked for other, more secular, explanations. Reference to anomy, therefore, is common in several such explanations, be they economic, social or psychological by nature.(20) For example, the growth of Pentecostalism is presented as a remedy, a compensation, for some disorder in society, from which people suffer. In this context, modernization is often mentioned, especially with respect to the developing countries. In developed countries, however, - European countries in particular, the USA being a different story altogether - modernization may be a cause of secularization, whilst in the developing countries it carries with it a series of problems that stimulate religionization, especially through religions that serve as problem-solvers. Pentecostalism is one component of this process of religionization, together with other religious expressions, such as the African independent churches, and Afro-American spirit-possession cults. Obviously, a reference to modernization is fitting here, and the problem-solving role is real, but when that same argument is used to explain the expansion of other religions, it does not represent a sufficient explanation for Pentecostal growth, or for people's preference for it.

When modernization is mentioned, it is usually placed in the context of the city, and urbanization is seen as an influential manifestation of the modernization process. The story is told in terms of personal uprooting and the loss of a social and cultural framework. The urban religions, including Pentecostalism, provide a new home and even a new family of brothers and sisters, albeit based on artificial kinship. These religions also help the migrant to find new moral codes that will help him/her to start a new life in a new setting. Social control by fellow-believers helps him/her to interiorize and obey these rules. The inevitable practical problems that accompany adaptation to a new habitat, may find their - supernatural or natural - solutions within these urban religions. The prayer for employment, for instance, may be answered through a fellow believer who also happens to be an employer.

Although it may be an important element in explaining Pentecostal expansion, this reasoning offers no help either in explaining its growth in rural areas, or its growth among long-established and successful urbanites. It also does not answer the question of why some people choose one particular urban religion rather than another.

Rather more specific is the explanation from modernization which argues that Pentecostals, because of their reliability and good citizenship, make model participants in the modernization process.(21) The individualism inherent in the Pentecostal faith - although often lived out within the confines of a closely-knit community - corresponds, in this sense, to the individualism which is regarded as an asset in a liberal capitalist society. The Weber thesis on Calvinist preparedness for capitalism is sometimes applied here, although one may have some doubts about its relevance because, unlike Calvinists, most Pentecostals are not engaged in the anxious struggle of deciding whether they are really 'elected and saved'. Doubts have also been expressed about the degree of rationality in Pentecostalism, or in Evangelicalism in general.(22) It might also be argued that the Pentecostal 'gospel' of prosperity allows believers to copiously consume (as long as the tithes are paid), an attitude that stands in sharp contrast with Calvinist asceticism. Moreover, the focus on prosperity would seem to emphasize a sense of reciprocity between God and believer, whereas Calvinists would reason from a 'theology of grace' standpoint. Using the Weber thesis in a selective manner, it can still be argued that, in the case of Pentecostals, their faith, their personal (missionary) initiatives, their desire to make full use of their talents, and their labour ethos, all contribute to making them strong candidates for upward social mobility in modern society. This argument, in my view, is an example of a more specific interpretation, in that it takes a particular characteristic of Pentecostal religion into account and, thereby, leaves the level of general social theorizing.

Again, the question is whether this explanation suffices, and whether it is applicable to all new converts.(23) It may also be that a Pentecostal church attracts successful and socially mobile citizens, because the ideology corresponds with their own expectations and aspirations: the Weber thesis is, thus, inverted. The social and religious conditions reinforce each other. This would seem to be the case when it becomes apparent that urban converts are not recent migrants but belong, instead, to the already established middle class.

Some authors(24) have pointed to the fact that the patron role of the rural landlord corresponds with that of the influential Pentecostal pastor, thereby implying that this urban religion is successful because it consolidates a feudal framework that, in itself, is anything but modern. What it means in fact is that the 'clients' have merely changed their patrons. Viewed from this standpoint, Pentecostalism creates no break between the rural and urban contexts, but represents continuity instead. This continuity is also supposed to be inherent in the traits that Pentecostalism, as a problem-solving and practical 'popular religion', shares with each convert's previous religion (e.g. folk Catholicism or some kind of traditional tribal religion).

Some authors have developed a variation on the modernization thesis, by focusing on the trend towards cultural and social pluralism typical of today's society. Especially where a monolithic religion such as Catholicism, makes itself felt on the Latin American context, the rise of alternative religions is viewed as the emergence of a free social space, a value cherished by societies on the Northern Atlantic axis.(25) Latin American Pentecostals have, in consequence, been presented as radically innovative, in that they develop a new social framework devoid of the traditionally ever-present leadership of some sympathizing elite. In this respect, Pentecostals differ from their competitors, i.e. the 'basism' of the liberationist theologians.(26)

The matter can also be looked at from another theoretical - and ideological - perspective, in this case neo-Marxist. In its more vulgar version, religion - and thus Pentecostalism - parades as the opium of the people, serving only the interests of the producing owners. Religions, including Pentecostalism, are said to be growing because they help their converts and adepts to forget the misery that, as workers, they experience in capitalist modernizing society. The problem-solving quality of Pentecostalism and other urban religions, is seen as most welcome among the much-plagued members of the underclasses. In a more specific vein, it is argued that the new moral codes that Pentecostalism preaches are surprisingly 'in tune' with the prevailing economic system. This explanation is sometimes accompanied by conspiracy theories which point to the role of the CIA in serving USA capitalist expansion by the support given to North American missionary organizations. In this view, the new free social space is not free at all, but subject to manipulation and foreign interests. Social mobility is reserved for the 'happy few', whereas the large mass of people can only parade as losers. In more sophisticated versions, reference is made to the Gramscian concept of hegemony, which suggests that the oppressed have a part in the acceptance of their own fate. Another less vulgar interpretation, contends that the victims of economic production disappropriation, ultimately gain control over religious production, without any control on the part of upper class clergy; in this way, they rehabilitate themselves from anonymity, and address their fellow-victims in the language of their own class.(27)

Again, it must be observed that the neo-Marxist approaches are partial and that 'opium of the people' is not necessarily the same as 'opium for the people'. Besides, conspiracy has been proven in only a limited number of cases, and the Marxist perspective does not explain Pentecostal expansion among the middle and upper classes, unless the new prosperity preached by Pentecostalism is legitimized as a blessing from God. Neither does it account for the growth arising from autochtonous 'Southern' initiatives, sometimes even specifically directed, as in the case of some Brazilian churches, towards 'Northern' capitalist societies, including the USA. And as we have seen already, Pentecostalism is politically diverse and even includes believers with leftist preferences upon which they act.

We have discussed the predecessors of current globalization theories, and we have seen that their authors refer to processes such as modernization, urbanization, and capitalist expansion in order to explain the growth of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement. With a few exceptions, these authors have managed to reduce the religious to the non-religious, to the extent that their theories, in consequence, are not sufficiently specific. It has also been shown that their explanations are not valid for all Pentecostals, and in that sense too, they are partial. These contributions from the 1970s and the 1980s are nonetheless relevant to the present debate, because several of the insights gained from the modernization and Neo-Marxist approaches, are still in use, as will become clear when we take a closer look at globalization perspectives.

We will see that, together with continuity, there has been a rupture in the modernization paradigm, in terms of appreciating the role of the Western (or Northern) countries. Once viewed as the source of modernization, these countries are now described as being equally subject to globalizing influences and, therefore, not essentially different from the rest of the world, previously dominated by the West. Just as non-Western countries used to be influenced by the West, non-Western influences are now being felt in the West. As a consequence of this, some authors even suggest that the categories 'Western' and 'non-Western' should be abandoned altogether.



Globalization has been referred to in diverse manners. Depending on their disciplinary homeland, some authors focus on the economic and ecological aspects, and others on the social, political and cultural sides of the phenomenon. In all cases, the world is experienced as a single place, or even a non-place, an abstract sign space, or as subject to time/space compression.(28) The dramatic increase in the use of transport (planes) and communication (with the Internet as the latest acquisition in terms of non-place) facilities, suggests that we live in a global village in which each fellow-human being can be reached at short notice, if not instantly. World society is presented as a system of mutual dependency. People, nations, transnational corporations, and religions are all condemned to each other. Migration has reached massive proportions and the concept of diaspora has taken on new meanings.(29)

But this one world also has its shadow world. There is often talk of a tension between the universal and the particular, the global and the local, the whole and the fragments, and this has led to terms such as 'glocalization'.(30) In Arizpe's words: 'the new "globality" is, in fact, a new "locality".(31) The fascination with globalization does not stem from the characteristics of the global, but from the attitude developed locally in order to survive in an era of globalization. The stereotype is that the local disappears under the influence of CocaColization or McDonaldization. A world culture, however, is highly improbable. It would seem better to follow Axford's advice that 'understanding the complexity of the global system requires a multi-dimensional approach that deals with the mediated connections between actors and institutional orders, at whatever "level" they are to be found'.(32) Communication has accordingly become an important issue, because it builds bridges between the universally human, the one global place, and local translations of the global.(33) The only solid conclusion that can be drawn from this, is that a cognitive global order has come into existence, rather than a political one, let alone a moral one.(34)

At the political level, one aspect of globalization that is often mentioned is the erosion of society as a unity and, more specifically, of the nation-state.(35) The state is under attack from above, from below and from within. It is subject both to a change in scale (e.g. the European Community) and to fragmentation motivated by regional or factional interests (e.g. regional conflicts in countries of the European Community, but elsewhere too). It is also under pressure from within, through multinational corporations that have roots in this nation-state. In facing these pressures, national politics develop new structures that safeguard part of the national heritage. The nation-state is apparently highly resilient and its persistence should not be underestimated.(36) Instead of proclaiming the end of the nation-state, it would perhaps be more interesting to study how the nation-state adapts itself through what might be called an effort at cultural syncretism, thus surviving global erosion at the local or regional level.

This means that so-called national cultures share in the transformation of the state, and society's boundaries are redefined along similar lines. Multicultural societies are the result of this process, and they represent the wider world within the old national and cultural boundaries, changing former concepts of space and scale. Outsiders become insiders.

The transnational corporations are said to be the new states of the future, no longer confined to a particular territory, but ever-present, especially in the world-wide availability of brand name consumer products, most emphatically and significantly evident in the symbolic mobile locus of tax-free shopping in planes. Commodification has been introduced as a concept that defines the process by which anything can be treated as an object of commerce and consumption and, as such, is an eloquent token of today's economic globalization mentality. Social relations are affected, in the sense that they are increasingly determined by commodity bonds. Identity is constructed with the help of commodities. Publicity sells identities, rather than products. Transnational corporations, on the other hand, do not limit themselves to global uniformity, and entrepreneurs soon discovered the importance of local adaptations of their global products, as illustrated by the fashion and hamburger markets.

Some authors(37) use a linguistic metaphor to describe the cultural change that is taking place; by taking the example of the Creole languages and speaking of 'creolization', they imply that people today are increasingly fluent in more than one cultural 'language'. And it bears a striking similarity with the founding myth of Pentecostalism, i.e. the story of the first Pentecost, when people were able to understand each others' languages.(38)

Religion sometimes receives a good deal of attention in globalization debates(39), and fundamentalist forms, Christian and Islamic in particular, are said to thrive in the new globalizing climate. Christian expansion has always been viewed as a transnational phenomenon with globalizing tendencies, even before the term became popular. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, has been depicted as a religious multinational. The Christian goal of the establishment of the Kingdom of God transcends national and cultural boundaries. This Kingdom is seen as a blueprint of the ideal society and, despite obvious failures, some of its tenets have become universals, as is clear from the formulation of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights, today's moral global framework. The so-called 'electronic' churches have fully embraced modern means of communication. For several decades already - and without using the word - Christian missiologists have been very aware of the 'glocalization' concept, as in the case of local cultural translations of the universal message, stamped as 'inculturation'. In non-Western contexts especially, Christian converts have shown how people can adopt a global view and at the same time remain faithful to their traditional identities. They may even have developed heresies in the process, but when a popular religion opts to refrain from official controls, such heresies are free and unrestrained: an African church elder once told me, quite unashamedly, that he regularly asked his ancestors for help in being a good Christian.

The emphasis on globalization as a cultural process has stimulated interest in the concept of identity. As we saw above, two approaches to identity, formerly presented as mutually exclusive, are now being combined to represent two aspects of the identity phenomenon. On the one hand, identity viewed from a culturalist standpoint is stable, and forms the basis for the experience of continuity; for this view of identity, Hall uses the metaphor of the root(40). On the other hand, it has also been presented in a constructivist way as contextualized, as a strategic device used by persons according to their particular needs in a particular situation, as a repertoire of multiple selves. To summarize this view Hall suggests the metaphor of the route(41). People involved in globalization processes tend, like the above-mentioned church elder in Africa, to protect themselves by trying to remain who and what they are (identity as root), while simultaneously developing their own history, and making strategic use of all new opportunities that present themselves (identity as route).

Though not identical, this distinction can be coupled with that between mechanistic and subjectivistic perspectives, both of them emphasizing the autonomy of structures, or of actors. The more autonomous the structures are, the more they produce people with similar identities who feel themselves to have the same roots. Actors have their own way of dealing with structures, by means of adaptation or selection, or even by constructing totally new structures, choosing - in short - their own routes. In globalization processes, actors are confronted with a new stock of structures that seem to impose themselves upon them, but which they use to develop their own routes.

Finally, globalization has stimulated post-modern interest in fragmentation, not so much in relation to the global, but much more in relation to the local translations of the global. Although the popular adagium has been: 'think globally, act locally', much of the thinking also takes place at the local level. Post-modernism has also served to spotlight the failures of the Enlightenment project. Ideological claims of universal truth have been rejected, with liberal capitalist ideology appearing to be the sole survivor of the end of ideology.(42) It is not really a victor, however, because it has so far been unable to develop a solution to the problems of violence and war, poverty and disease, environment and pollution.

This then is the somewhat gloomy globalizing world within which Pentecostal expansion occurs. In it, space and non-space intermingle, just as the global and the local - or even the fragmented. Societies and nation-states are being transformed under the challenge of globalizing processes. Transnational corporations occupy space as well as non-space, and through commodification they change social mentalities. People become cultural polyglots; they construct their identities within global constraints as well as facilities, but with considerable local resilience. Religion is part of the globalizing forces, as well as of the local translations. It is part both of the global impact and the local reaction.

Many of the issues raised so far, provoke the type of questions relevant to understanding the 'why' and 'how' of Pentecostal expansion. If Pentecostals, despite their historical, social, political and ecumenical diversity, and notwithstanding the skilful managing of opposing elements, are characterized by :

what role do they play in this world? If we move from these religious characteristics towards the non-religious aspects of the globalizing context, how specific and precise can our explanation of Pentecostal expansion then be? What, in this case, is the relationship between the religious and the social? How are the two articulated? What are, in Axford's terms, the mediated connections? Does a religion like Pentecostalism change when it crosses cultural boundaries? Is the global message translated into local forms? To what degree does Pentecostalism mark people, and to what extent do Pentecostals form and transform their religion? How are culturalist roots and constructivist routes connected? Does the Pentecostal experience easily combine with universal human characteristics?


Globalization and Pentecostal commonness

To find a tentative answer to these questions - the complete answer will require years of research - I will now return to the characterization of Pentecostalism given above, and confront it with the globalization process as described in the previous section. In this section, I will take a closer look at the three Pentecostal characteristics that have been mentioned several times already in this paper. I will suggest that these internal religious elements together, as a constellation, make Pentecostalism a religion that matches the globalizing world. Although this may sound like an evangelist's sermon, it is really offered as an anthropologist's hypothesis on the prospects for Pentecostalism in the globalization process. In the subsequent section, I will address the relationship between globalization and Pentecostal diversity.

What then is the value of the experience of the Holy Spirit as a religious element in a globalizing world? Experience of the Spirit is personal, embodied and, therefore, dramatically intense. It is not just a message, but more often a message corporally experienced. This very intimate manifestation of the Spirit, however, is not limited solely to the personal universe. First of all, what is felt physically is an experience that the believer shares with the universal body of Pentecostal believers, his brothers and sisters, in a world-wide artificial kinship of God's family. The community of believers is the model of the ideal society, and globalization has made this world-wide fellowship more visible. The TV screen of the 'electronic' church serves as an icon of this global community. Secondly, the personal experience of the Spirit underpins a link not only with other Pentecostals but with all people of this one-place world, because the message must, by all means, be transmitted to the whole of mankind. The ultimate perspective is that of a global world that coincides with the Kingdom of God. The Pentecostals have their own scenario for the globalized world; they do not surrender the initiative to the economic and political leaders of the day, but preach instead their own model of a world society, and give it substance within their own communities. Globalization, therefore, has made this world more accessible to Pentecostal action.

The scope of Pentecostal interest is global too; after all, the whole world is under God's authority and all people are potential believers. The language miracle of the first Pentecost is more than a metaphor: Pentecostals behave like cultural polyglots. Whether or not the nation-state will survive the globalization process, Pentecostals will certainly not allow themselves to be constrained by national boundaries. They regard fellow believers in other countries as their kin in faith and, as such, part of the world-wide community. No wonder then that easy use is made of travel facilities, by internationally operating evangelists especially, as also e.g. by U.S. 'Assemblies of God' short-term support teams assigned to local Pentecostal projects elsewhere in the world. Visits to local churches by globe-trotting leaders and evangelists, reinforce this impression of an unbounded religion. Pentecostalism takes advantage of the world-wide change in scale, it normalizes the expanded boundaries of people's worlds, and facilitates access to that larger world. Anywhere in this global setting, it provides a place where the believer can feel 'at home', meet fellow believers, and make converts. 'Place' is primarily the Pentecostal meeting-place, and secondly a locus for recruitment, wherever it may be located.

This perspective is reflected in the charismata, most clearly in 'speaking in tongues' (glossolalia) as the victory over linguistic differences, and the new universal language of God's worldly Kingdom. It refers back to the first Pentecost and the language miracle that is reported to have occurred then. This gift of the Spirit, therefore, gives a dimension to history, since Pentecostals believe they exist somewhere between Pentecost and the end of time.

The gift of prophecy also has this historical dimension, because through it people are instructed, not so much about the future, though this may occur, but about the right path to go and about the course the world as a whole will follow. This gives certainty to the faithful, who have to bear with the lack of comprehension on the part of non-believers. Pentecostals may feel themselves to be part of a minority, but they are usually firmly convinced, nonethess, that their vision is the right one, and that in the end it will prevail and be confirmed.

And then there is healing as the practical reaffirmation of a prevision of the Kingdom of God. Globalization is often accompanied by pain and suffering for many - they have not asked for it, and every token of help, therefore, is welcomed with open arms.(43) Interestingly enough, the definition of healing goes beyond purely medical problems, and includes a wide variety of personal problems which people have to deal with in this modern global world.

One of these problems is that of identity. Globalization creates all kinds of identity crises in all kinds of cultures, societies and persons. The question 'who am I?' becomes more pressing when new behaviour and conviction repertories enter the public opinion market, especially if spiritual orientation is in great demand there. Globalization creates a problem, not only of material survival but also in terms of a world-view. All is not lost, however - globalization brings the solution in the shape of Pentecostalism. Interestingly, as Brouwer et al. have suggested(44), the USA is the main distributor of both corporate capitalism and of evangelical missionaries. Though they are by no means the only ones in the field, 'astute Christian entrepreneurs are successfully selling a new international belief system'(45). In this context, the Pentecostal message is a strong competitor, because it offers the means by which people can regain their lost sense of self-esteem. It helps to solve the individual quest for a reliable and convincing orientation in life and, in addition, it offers a formula that corresponds to the scale of the globalized world, i.e. it links personal and global worlds.

There is, of course, much more that can be said about the way people receive the gifts of the Spirit in very diverse cultures, such as Ghana, Korea, and Brazil. Cox has suggested, for instance, that Pentecostalism flourishes on a basis of 'primal spirituality'(46), and he thus takes as his starting-point the importance of physical experiences in Pentecostalism(47) as a reflection of supposedly universal human experiences which include glossolalia, trance, vision, dreams, healing and hope. Other authors take paranormal experiences as the universal basis for Pentecostalism.(48). The functional continuity between Pentecostalism and its more traditional, or popular, predecessors also seems to point in the direction of a common human basis, beyond specific times and places. It may well be that the Pentecostal gifts ought to be seen as a specific use and interpretation of a global human body language, doubly adapted : i.e. to Pentecostal theology and the local cultural context in which it is sometimes helped, as in the African, Brazilian and Korean contexts, by a tradition of similar experiences, albeit critically used and interpreted

One example of this is what has come to be referred to as 'Altered States of Consciousness' (ASC), including manifestations labeled as shamanism, spirit possession or trance. This global human body language seems to be part and parcel of the human psychic outfit, even though each culture and each religion develops its own very specific and, what is more, exclusive view of what actually happens to the person in question. In connectionist terms(49), it might be said that ASC represent a repertoire of minimal scripts that serve as prototypes for a particular way of acting or thinking, but that they are so minimal that they will always need amplification before they can be used. The Pentecostal repertoire has coloured these human potentialities through the role attributed to the Holy Spirit, thus giving them a unique and exclusive flavour. The exclusive Pentecostal repertoire may also be used to combat competing manifestations, as is the case in Brazil where Umbanda spirits are exorcized by Pentecostal pastors in the name of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The 'Toronto Blessing' can best be understood as the latest addition to the Pentecostal repertoire, and the debate surrounding it as the struggle to protect a unified and exclusive discourse.

Conversion as the second religious characteristic mentioned, brings this complex of views and practices 'home' to the new believer. As a dramatic bodily event, expressed in baptism, with water and in (the name of) the Holy Spirit, it is the prototype of an individual's experience of the Spirit. It has drastic consequences at the personal level too, but acts as a mediating force between the person and the community of believers, locally as well as globally. It amounts, in fact, to admission to the new world community of the saved, the prototype of the promised Kingdom of God and an alternative to the prevailing global situation. It also emphasizes the commitment to that divine Kingdom.

The primal or proleptic experience I alluded to earlier in this chapter when speaking of conversion as a basic Pentecostal experience, can also be understood as a schema in the connectionist sense. It is a scenario that facilitates access to the Pentecostal fellowship. It has some fundamental characteristics that all believers share, but is always given a personal form. This primal experience is also primal in the sense that it depends on a universally human capacity that is therefore accessible to all people, regardless of their cultural specificity.

Pentecostals would, of course, reject such an interpretation, but in their theological language God can be said to have created human beings in order that they may experience the presence of the Holy Spirit. To Pentecostal believers, the interpretation given here must seem relativistic, although one need not necessarily conclude that the sacred is embedded exclusively in the human mind. Admittedly, it offers no help in answering the question of whether 'the sacred' exists, but it does keep the possibility open. It focuses purely on the believers' interpretation of what they experience. The universal potentiality of such an experience would seem to underline their view that the sacred, labeled by them in a unique and exclusive way, becomes manifest in such an experience, even though different believers will have different opinions on what is meant by 'sacred'.

Conversion stories are widely used in spreading the message, and in globally expanding Pentecostalism, these stories serve as models open to adoption by potential converts. The narrative discourse offers cross-cultural possibilities of identification, despite cultural differences that may hamper understanding. Basic human experiences of affliction and happiness are easily recognized.

Let us turn now to the third Pentecostal characteristic mentioned above, i.e. the duality of the world-view. This has the advantage of being a simplistic model of what is happening in the world : God and Satan are at war and Pentecostals are God's proud and committed soldiers. It is a short-hand theory of globalization, tailor-made for the Pentecostal believer. Again, there is evidence of a historical dimension, because in it personal and world history are both marked by the struggle between God and Satan. In this way, misery and suffering can be explained, just as the moral choices believers have to deal with are put into a comprehensive and decisive framework, while retaining the belief that the end of the world is expected and understood. At the same time, there is an absolute certainty that God will ultimately win and that the devil will be overcome.

Here, too, is a universal dimension that corresponds to the global expansion of Pentecostalism, just as the experience of the spirit and the conversion experience have a universal human component. Dichotomous views have a certain universality, across and despite cultural boundaries, even though each society, or religion, produces its own form of this duality.(50) Though monistic views exist as a contrast, nature seems to be an important source of dual views and serves as a fundgrube of metaphors (day and night, light and dark, right and left, nature and culture, male and female). Military metaphors also form part of this dual thinking (a war between good and evil), and the expansion of Pentecostalism appears to be seconded by a capacity to understand such dual schemas. On the global market, a dualist view stands a good chance of being recognized and accepted, even in its specific Pentecostal form.

It is suggested, in short, that taken together as a constellation, the three characteristics of Pentecostalism currently facilitate Pentecostalism's access to the world's populations. The message is adapted to the global scale and experienced at the recognizable level of the human body. Precisely, because the corporeal experience, through the charismata, is so important, it has a physical basis in what is part of the universal human potential, even though this is interpreted in a radically exclusive manner. Similarly, duality can be traced to universal dichotomous thinking. Pentecostalism offers a universal framework that can be amplified and developed within the cultural (and culturalist) as well as the personal (and constructivist) context. It allows for cultural adaptation and for individual initiatives.


Globalization and Pentecostal diversity

Now that the Pentecostal minimal constellation of defining religious traits has been described, in relation to the human universal potential as applied in the Pentecostal global world-view, it is now possible to concentrate on the other end of the spectrum, i.e. the almost fragmented diversity of Pentecostal manifestations. How can this diversity be linked to the globalization process? What is its relevance for the expansion of Pentecostalism?

In my opinion, this diversity can best be seen as an illustration of the Christian modality's capacity to bridge the gap between the global and the local. This adaptability may surprise those who have a view of Pentecostalism as static, dogmatic and rigid. Though doctrine and ethics reinforce the impression of a static religion, and little compromise is possible with regard to the above-mentioned minimal constellation of defining traits, Pentecostals have, throughout their history, shown themselves well able to adapt to new circumstances. In social terms, their strong focus on their mission has given them good insights into the most efficient way of organizing themselves. With the exception of some of the more progressive churches, Pentecostal political abstention has opened doors to almost all political regimes and, in terms of ecumenical relations, there is a surprising diversity. In some cases, and in the interests of proclaiming the message, differences are at least temporarily set aside and the unity of the believers becomes paramount.

What role then does this diversity play in the context of the globalization process? Let us look, first of all, at social diversity which may have a weakening effect on that sense of unity. The sheer variety can also be seen as an asset in the globalization process, especially if this diversity is coupled to flexibility. If globalization can best be observed at the local level, then Pentecostal diversity matches the local diversity that is the other side of the universalizing globalization coin. Through its message, it facilitates the translation from the global to the local and vice versa. An example of this is the Neo-Pentecostal emphasis on prosperity, which fits very well the dream of wealth spread by the globalization process. As Brouwer et al. put it: 'it makes the religious culture compatible with the worldwide commodity culture'(51). Another example is that the conscious choice of the target group, using modern commercial marketing techniques, facilitates Pentecostal penetration into new mission fields. Pentecostalism adapts easily to the contours of the social map. The variety in scale on which a church may operate, from the neighbourhood living-room to the international platform, enhances the effect of its adaptability. Where diversity is a result of conflicts within churches, this may even prove distinctly advantageous in proclaiming the message, especially if it results in an increased Pentecostal presence.

The degree of institutionalization may also contribute to this facile adaptation, especially if the organization works internationally and is run professionally, making full use of modern management techniques.(52) In that case, the churches speak the language of the multinational corporations currently exerting more and more influence on the society within which they operate. It is not surprising, therefore, that business men constitute a special target group, of which the 'Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International' is a good example.(53) The use of mass media, electronic techniques especially, is another example of the way in which modern infrastructures are embraced. The global distribution of religious TV shows, occupies 'place' in living-rooms around the world, and is used by consumers in a variety of ways.

Two restrictions must be mentioned, however. Firstly, the radical choice converts are expected to make, carries obvious consequences for their cultural repertoire. Much of what was normal in pre-conversion times, now becomes anathema - in short, demonic.(54) Pentecostalism is able to make short shrift of cultural elements considered contrary to the message, and in that sense Pentecostalism is somewhat inflexible, a fact that may deter potential converts. As was suggested above, however, functional similarity may compensate for what has been rejected, especially when Pentecostalism is not just critical of tradition, but endeavours to substitute problem-solving forms of traditional and popular religion, such as African ancestor worship or Korean shamanism. A more specific example is the role of Pentecostalism as an anti-witchcraft movement, offering a new remedy for afflictions traditionally linked to evil. In the modern individualistic situation, evil is experienced in new ways, and threatens old social values. Witches then come to be seen as Satan's servants and, as such, become candidates for exorcism.(55)

The second restriction is that Pentecostals are ambiguous with regard to modernity. As we have already seen, they apparently fit well into modern society and make good citizens. They also make skilful use of modern communication techniques, although they are not averse to voicing strong public criticism of such phenomena as loss of 'community' and falling moral standards, which they claim are the result of modernity, and which lead to dereligionization or secularization. In that sense, Pentecostals are anti-modern.(56)

With regard to political diversity, it could be that political abstinence, based on respect for the established order, actually did much to aid missionary access to dictatorially governed countries. In the Guatemalan situation of the 1980s, for instance, becoming or being a Pentecostal, was just one way of publicly manifesting respect for the military authority, in contrast to Roman Catholics who were often suspected of anti-military viewpoints and therefore in constant danger. On the other hand, progressive churches may also have served as rallying-points for those opposed to dictatorship, as happened in some Chilean churches. Before 'Perestrojka' hit the world, Pentecostal churches and organizations had great difficulty in getting a foothold in the Eastern bloc countries, and yet that same critical attitude once so prevalent in Communist countries, is now being adopted by the Orthodox churches of Eastern Europe.

Ecumenical diversity is linked to the globalization aspect, if only in the sense of the meaning attributed to the word 'ecumenical': i.e. concerning the whole inhabited world. Cox has called Pentecostalism 'a kind of ecumenical movement'(57), and indeed Pentecostals have their own world-wide networks and conferences. The intricasies of Information Technology were quickly grasped, as was clear from the rapid spread of the so-called 'Toronto Blessing' in the early 1990s. That the church in which this new spiritual experience first presented itself was called the 'Airport Vineyard Church', in Toronto, was almost emblematic. The spread of the Roman Catholic charismatic movement presents another example. The traditional global presence of this church and its hierarchical structure, have been placed at the service of the movement.

The final Pentecostal feature mentioned, i.e. the combination of opposite characteristics, exists only within the parameters of the simplistic world-view; it does, however, facilitate access bearing in mind that, whatever the circumstances, every potential convert can find something of value. This may also be linked to the global nature of current world society, notwithstanding cultural differences and whether or not they are taken into account. Globalization also combines opposite characteristics, especially the global and the local. The combination of a 'happy end' for all believers, and a problem-solving capacity in the here and now, is undoubtedly very attractive. Similarly, the condemnation of the world as sinful imposes no demands to retreat from it as was the custom in the monastic tradition. Nor does the attractiveness of Pentecostal equality preclude potential leaders among new converts from constructing their own religious careers, although it has to be said that in this respect women are disadvantaged, and men advantaged. If the proleptic experience was fundamental in the act of conversion, spontaneity provides fertile ground on which to re-enact that experience.

In short, Pentecostal diversity has generally worked towards utilizing the opportunities offered by the globalization process. As a global movement, Pentecostalism can be said to have become part of religious globalization. As a form of faith, it has spread its message on the wings of more secular sectors of the globalization process, just as in the traditional churches, both Catholic and Protestant, missionary efforts were the constant companions of colonial expansion.



This chapter has explored the complex articulation between Pentecostalism and globalization. An effort has also been made to avoid reductionist explanations of Pentecostal expansion that seek to attribute it to effects arising out of non-religious (social, economic, political and psychic) factors. Without denying the importance of these factors, however, the internal religious characteristics of Pentecostalism were taken as the starting-point, in order to discover how they, taken together as a constellation, are articulated together with these non-religious factors, thus facilitating Pentecostalism's role in the current process of globalization. In this way, a more specific explanation has been found, whereby the Pentecostal's physical experience with the Holy Spirit, based in a dramatic conversion experience, and lived out in the framework of a dualist world-view, serves to situate the believer effectively at the global, the local and the personal level. The Pentecostal message has the potential to create a religious fellowship that serves as a model, not only for the individual, but for national and global societies as well. Pentecostals have shown themselves well able to use the cultural tools that are at the disposal of all mankind, tools which ensure both continuity and change, combining social control and individual initiative, and making unique use of capacities that belong to the universal human toolkit. Although Pentecostal identity contains outspoken and, as it were, eternal components, believers are able to find a dynamic form that facilitates adaptation to changing personal and cultural situations. Special attention has been given to the way in which unity and diversity are related in Pentecostalism and how this influences its position in the globalization process. The global scope of the Pentecostal message matches the current global framework. At the same time, the variety of Pentecostal forms corresponds to the local groundedness of the globalization process. In this way Pentecostals can be said to act from a personal experience and conviction which allows them to live their lives in a unique manner, constrained as well as facilitated by external non-religious factors. It provides them with a successful starting-point for the promulgation of their faith.

These general statements must remain hypothetical until case studies can be done from which to draw the map of Pentecostal expansion in a local context, and which clearly bears the mark of the globalization process.



Lourdes Arizpe (1996)
'Scale and interaction in cultural processes: towards an anthropological perspective of global change' in L. Arizpe (ed.), The Cultural Dimensions of Global Change, An Anthropological Approach, Paris, 1996, pp.89-107.
Barrie Axford (1995)
The Global System: Economics, Politics and Culture, Cambridge.
Marc Augé (1995)
Non-Places, Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, London.
Zygmunt Bauman (1998)
Globalization, The Human Consequences, Cambridge.
Peter Beyer (1990)
'Privatization and the Public Influence of Religion in Global Society' in M.Featherstone (ed.), Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity, London, 1990, pp. 373-395.
Peter Beyer (1994)
Religion and Globalization, London.
Steve Brouwer (1996)
Paul Gifford and Susan D. Rose, Exporting the American Gospel: Global Christian Fundamentalism, New York.
Roger Burbach (1997)
Orlando Núñez and Boris Kagarlisky, Globalization and its Discontents, The Rise of Modern Socialisms, London.
James Clifford (1994)
'Diasporas', Cultural Anthropology, 9, 3, 1994, pp. 302-338.
Harvey Cox (1995)
Fire from Heaven, New York.
Thomas J. Csordas (1993)
'Somatic Modes of Attention', Cultural Anthropology, 8, 2, 1993, pp. 135-156.
Thomas J. Csordas (1994)
The Sacred Self, A Cultural Phenomenology of Charismatic Healing, Berkeley etc..
André Droogers (1998)
'Paradoxical Views on a Paradoxical Religion, Models for the Explanation of Pentecostal Expansion in Brazil and Chile' in B.Boudewijnse, A.Droogers and F.Kamsteeg (eds.), More than Opium, An Anthropological Approach to Latin American and Caribbean Pentecostal Praxis, Lanham, Maryland, 1998, pp. 1-34.
Lee Drummond (1980)
'The Cultural Continuum: A Theory of Intersystems', Man, 5, 1980, pp. 352-374.
Mike Featherstone (1990)
'Global Culture: An Introduction' in M.Featherstone (ed.), Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity, London, 1990, pp. 1-14.
Jonathan Friedman (1994)
Cultural Identity and Global Process, London.
Peter Henry Fry and Gary Nigel Howe (1975)
'Duas respostas à aflição: Umbanda e Pentecostalismo', Debate e Crítica 6, 1975, pp. 75-94.
Peter Golding and Phil Harris (1997)
'Introduction' in P.Golding and P.Harris (eds.), Beyond Cultural Imperialism: Globalization, Communication and the New International Order, London, 1997, pp. 1-9.
Bernardo Guerrero (1995)
A Dios rogando... Los pentecostales en la sociedad Aymara del norte grande de Chile, Amsterdam.
Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay (eds.) (1996)
Questions of Cultural Identity, London.
Ulf Hannerz (1992)
Cultural Complexity, Studies in the Social Organization of Meaning, New York.
Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe (1997)
New Religions as Global Cultures, Making the Human Sacred, Boulder, Colorado.
Judith Chambliss Hoffnagel (1978)
The Believers: Pentecostalism in a Brazilian City, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Dorothy Holland (1998)
William Lachicotte Jr, Debra Skinner and Carole Cain, Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Walter Hollenweger (1974)
Pentecost Between Black and White, Five Case Studies on Pentecost and Politics, Belfast.
Walter Hollenweger (1994)
'The Pentecostal Elites and the Pentecostal Poor, A Missed Dialogue?' in K. Poewe (ed.), Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, Columbia, South Carolina, 1994, pp. 200-214.
Stephen Hunt (1997)
Malcolm Hamilton and Tony Walter, 'Introduction: Tongues, Toronto and the Millennium' in S.Hunt, M.Hamilton and T.Walter (eds.), Charismatic Christianity, Sociological Perspectives, London, 1997, pp. 1-16.
Stanley Johannesen (1994)
'Third-Generation Pentecostal Language: Continuity and Change in Collective Perceptions' in K.Poewe (ed.), Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, Columbia, South Carolina, 1994, pp. 175-199.
Frans H. Kamsteeg (1998)
Prophetic Pentecostalism in Chile, A Case Study on Religion and Development Policy, Lanham, Maryland.
Roger H. Keesing (1994)
'Theories of Culture Revisited' in R. Borofsky (ed.), Assessing Cultural Anthropology, New York, 1994, pp. 301-312.
Christian Lalive d'Epinay (1968)
El Refugio de las Masas, Estudio Sociológico del Protestantismo Chileno, Santiago de Chile.
David Lehmann (1996)
Struggle for the Spirit, Religious Transformation and Popular Culture in Brazil and Latin America, Cambridge.
David Martin (1990)
Tongues of Fire: The Explosion of Protestantism in Latin America, Oxford.
Birgit Meyer (1995)
'"Delivered from the Powers of Darkness", Confessions about Satanic Riches in Christian Ghana', Africa, 65, 2, 1995, pp. 236-255.
Daniel P. Miguez (1998)
Spiritual Bonfire in Argentina, Confronting Current Theories with an Ethnographic Account of Pentecostal Growth in a Buenos Aires Suburb, Amsterdam.
Daniel Míguez (1998)
'Qué Puede Agregarse a los Clásicos?: Buscando Nuevos Horizontes a los Estudios Sobre el Pentecostalismo Latinoamericano', Estudios sobre Religión, 6, 1998, pp. 4-6.
Rodney Needham (ed.) (1973)
Right & Left, Essays on Dual Symbolic Classification, Chicago.
Sherry B. Ortner (1984)
'Theory in Anthropology Since the Sixties', Comparative Studies in Society and History, 26, 1, 1984, pp. 126-166.
Karla Poewe (ed.) (1994)
Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, Columbia, South Carolina.
Karla Poewe (1994)
'Rethinking the Relationship of Anthropology to Science and Religion' in K. Poewe (ed.), Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, Columbia, South Carolina, 1994, pp. 234-258.
Roland Robertson (1992)
Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture, London.
Francisco Cartaxo Rolim (1980)
Religião e Classes Populares, Petrópolis.
Francisco Cartaxo Rolim (1987)
O que é Pentecostalismo, São Paulo.
Francisco Cartaxo Rolim (1995)
Pentecostalismo: Brasil e América Latina, Petrópolis.
Claudia Strauss and Naomi Quinn (1994)
'A Cognitive/Cultural Anthropology' in R. Borofsky (ed.), Assessing Cultural Anthropology, New York, 1994, pp. 284-300.
Claudia Strauss and Naomi Quinn (1997)
A Cognitive Theory of Cultural Meaning, Cambridge.
Paul Vieille (1986)
'Du transnational au politique-monde?', Peuples méditerranéens, 35-36, 1986, pp. 309-338.
Emilio Willems (1967)
Followers of the New Faith, Nashville, Tennessee.


1. For a discussion of this problem with regard to Brazilian Umbanda and Pentecostalism see Peter Henry Fry and Gary Nigel Howe, 'Duas respostas à aflição: Umbanda e Pentecostalismo', Debate e Crítica 6, 1975, pp. 75-94. [return to text]

2. See for example Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay (eds.), Questions of Cultural Identity, London, 1996; Dorothy Holland, William Lachicotte Jr, Debra Skinner and Carole Cain, Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998; Roger H. Keesing, 'Theories of Culture Revisited' in R. Borofsky (ed.), Assessing Cultural Anthropology, New York, 1994, pp. 301-312; Sherry B. Ortner, 'Theory in Anthropology Since the Sixties', Comparative Studies in Society and History, 26, 1, 1984, pp. 126-166; Claudia Strauss and Naomi Quinn, 'A Cognitive/Cultural Anthropology' in R. Borofsky (ed.), Assessing Cultural Anthropology, New York, 1994, pp. 284-300; Claudia Strauss and Naomi Quinn, A Cognitive Theory of Cultural Meaning, Cambridge, 1997. [return to text]

3. E.g. Jonathan Friedman, Cultural Identity and Global Process, London, 1994; Hall and Du Gay op. cit.. [return to text]

4. Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe, New Religions as Global Cultures, Making the Human Sacred, Boulder, Colorado, 1997, pp. 59ff; Karla Poewe, 'Rethinking the Relationship of Anthropology to Science and Religion' in K. Poewe (ed.), Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, Columbia, South Carolina, 1994, pp. 234-258, p. 243. [return to text]

5. Personal communication Ruth Marshall-Fratani. [return to text]

6. Walter Hollenweger, Pentecost Between Black and White, Five Case Studies on Pentecost and Politics, Belfast, 1974, pp. 18,19. [return to text]

7. Daniel P. Miguez, Spiritual Bonfire in Argentina, Confronting Current Theories with an Ethnographic Account of Pentecostal Growth in a Buenos Aires Suburb, Amsterdam, 1998; Daniel Míguez, 'Qué Puede Agregarse a los Clásicos?: Buscando Nuevos Horizontes a los Estudios Sobre el Pentecostalismo Latinoamericano', Estudios sobre Religión, 6, 1998, pp. 4-6. [return to text]

8. Hollenweger, op. cit., pp. 76-97. [return to text]

9. E.g. Stephen Hunt, Malcolm Hamilton and Tony Walter, 'Introduction: Tongues, Toronto and the Millennium' in S.Hunt, M.Hamilton and T.Walter (eds.), Charismatic Christianity, Sociological Perspectives, London, 1997, pp. 1-16, p. 2. [return to text]

10. Steve Brouwer, Paul Gifford and Susan D. Rose, Exporting the American Gospel: Global Christian Fundamentalism, New York, 1996, pp. 6,44,266. [return to text]

11. See Stanley Johannesen, 'Third-Generation Pentecostal Language: Continuity and Change in Collective Perceptions' in K.Poewe (ed.), Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, Columbia, South Carolina, 1994, pp. 175-199, for a moving account. [return to text]

12. Brouwer et al. 1996, pp. 44,45. [return to text]

13. Hollenweger op. cit. [return to text]

14. Frans H. Kamsteeg, Prophetic Pentecostalism in Chile, A Case Study on Religion and Development Policy, Lanham, Maryland, 1998. [return to text]

15. See Walter Hollenweger, 'The Pentecostal Elites and the Pentecostal Poor, A Missed Dialogue?' in K. Poewe (ed.), Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, Columbia, South Carolina, 1994, pp. 200-214, p. 205. [return to text]

16. Hunt et al. 1997, p. 4. [return to text]

17. Op. cit. [return to text]

18. André Droogers, 'Paradoxical Views on a Paradoxical Religion, Models for the Explanation of Pentecostal Expansion in Brazil and Chile' in B.Boudewijnse, A.Droogers and F.Kamsteeg (eds.), More than Opium, An Anthropological Approach to Latin American and Caribbean Pentecostal Praxis, Lanham, Maryland, 1998, pp. 1-34. [return to text]

19. Op. cit., p. 3. [return to text]

20. For a more detailed account, see Droogers op. cit. [return to text]

21. E.g. Emilio Willems, Followers of the New Faith, Nashville, Tennessee, 1967. [return to text]

22. Brouwer et al., op. cit. p. 10; for a detailed discussion ibid. pp. 231ff. [return to text]

23. Judith Chambliss Hoffnagel, The Believers: Pentecostalism in a Brazilian City, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1978. [return to text]

24. E.g. Christian Lalive d'Epinay, El Refugio de las Masas, Estudio Sociológico del Protestantismo Chileno, Santiago de Chile, 1968. [return to text]

25. David Martin, Tongues of Fire: The Explosion of Protestantism in Latin America, Oxford, 1990. [return to text]

26. David Lehmann, Struggle for the Spirit, Religious Transformation and Popular Culture in Brazil and Latin America, Cambridge, 1996. [return to text]

27. Francisco Cartaxo Rolim, Religião e Classes Populares, Petrópolis, 1980; Francisco Cartaxo Rolim, O que é Pentecostalismo, São Paulo, 1987; Francisco Cartaxo Rolim, Pentecostalismo: Brasil e América Latina, Petrópolis, 1995. [return to text]

28. In order: Roland Robertson, Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture, London, 1992, p. 6; Marc Augé, Non-Places, Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, London, 1995; Paul Vieille, 'Du transnational au politique-monde?', Peuples méditerranéens, 35-36, 1986, pp. 309-338, p. 312; Zygmunt Bauman, Globalization, The Human Consequences, Cambridge, 1998, p. 2. [return to text]

29. James Clifford, 'Diasporas', Cultural Anthropology, 9, 3, 1994, pp. 302-338. [return to text]

30. Robertson op. cit., p. 73. [return to text]

31. Lourdes Arizpe, 'Scale and interaction in cultural processes: towards an anthropological perspective of global change' in L. Arizpe (ed.), The Cultural Dimensions of Global Change, An Anthropological Approach, Paris, 1996, pp.89-107, pp. 89-90. [return to text]

32. Barrie Axford, The Global System: Economics, Politics and Culture, Cambridge 1995, p. 26. [return to text]

33. Ibid. p. 28; Peter Golding and Phil Harris, 'Introduction' in P.Golding and P.Harris (eds.), Beyond Cultural Imperialism: Globalization, Communication and the New International Order, London, 1997, pp. 1-9. [return to text]

34. Axford, op.cit., p. 27. [return to text]

35. E.g. Axford op. cit., p. 25, Mike Featherstone, 'Global Culture: An Introduction' in M.Featherstone (ed.), Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity, London, 1990, pp. 1-14, p. 2; Vieille op. cit. [return to text]

36. Golding and Harris op. cit., p. 8. [return to text]

37. E.g. Lee Drummond, 'The Cultural Continuum: A Theory of Intersystems', Man, 5, 1980, pp. 352-374; Ulf Hannerz, Cultural Complexity, Studies in the Social Organization of Meaning, New York, 1992. [return to text]

38. See also César's contribution to this book. [return to text]

39. E.g. Peter Beyer, 'Privatization and the Public Influence of Religion in Global Society' in M.Featherstone (ed.), Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity, London, 1990, pp. 373-395; Peter Beyer, Religion and Globalization, London, 1994. [return to text]

40. Hall and Du Gay op. cit., p. 4. [return to text]

41. Ibid. [return to text]

42. Roger Burbach, Orlando Núñez and Boris Kagarlisky, Globalization and its Discontents, The Rise of Modern Socialisms, London, 1997. [return to text]

43. This might give the impression of a functionalist and therefore reductionist interpretation, yet the mere fact that Pentecostalism offers relief cannot be denied, even though its success cannot be explained from this 'function'. The point is that this function depends on religious convictions and the experience of the Spirit. [return to text]

44. Brouwer et al., op. cit., p. 7. [return to text]

45. Ibid. [return to text]

46. Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven, New York, 1995, p. 82. [return to text]

47. See also Thomas J. Csordas, 'Somatic Modes of Attention', Cultural Anthropology, 8, 2, 1993, pp. 135-156; Thomas J. Csordas, The Sacred Self, A Cultural Phenomenology of Charismatic Healing, Berkeley etc., 1994. [return to text]

48. Chalfont et al. 1987, mentioned in Hunt et al., op. cit., p. 6. [return to text]

49. E.g. Strauss and Quinn op.cit. [return to text]

50. Rodney Needham (ed.), Right & Left, Essays on Dual Symbolic Classification, Chicago, 1973. [return to text]

51. Brouwer et al., op. cit., p. 9. [return to text]

52. Ibid. p. 17 [return to text]

53. Ibid. p. 185. [return to text]

54. An example can be found in Bernardo Guerrero, A Dios rogando... Los pentecostales en la sociedad Aymara del norte grande de Chile, Amsterdam, 1995. [return to text]

55. For an interesting example from Ghana see Birgit Meyer, '"Delivered from the Powers of Darkness", Confessions about Satanic Riches in Christian Ghana', Africa, 65, 2, 1995, pp. 236-255. [return to text]

56. Hunt et al., op. cit., p. 3. [return to text]

57. Cox, op. cit., p. 16. [return to text]

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