Posts Tagged ‘Prosperity Gospel’

van Wyk, “The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa”

April 12, 2014

van Wyk, Ilana.  2014. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa: A Church of Strangers.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Publisher’s Description: The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), a church of Brazilian origin, has been enormously successful in establishing branches and attracting followers in post-apartheid South Africa. Unlike other Pentecostal Charismatic Churches (PCC), the UCKG insists that relationships with God be devoid of ’emotions’, that socialisation between members be kept to a minimum and that charity and fellowship are ‘useless’ in materialising God’s blessings. Instead, the UCKG urges members to sacrifice large sums of money to God for delivering wealth, health, social harmony and happiness. While outsiders condemn these rituals as empty or manipulative, this book shows that they are locally meaningful, demand sincerity to work, have limits and are informed by local ideas about human bodies, agency and ontological balance. As an ethnography of people rather than of institutions, this book offers fresh insights into the mass PCC movement that has swept across Africa since the early 1990s.

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Selka, “Demons and Money”

March 25, 2014

Selka, Stephen.  2014.  Demons and Money: Possessions in Brazilian Pentecostalism.  In Spirited Things: The Work of “Possession” in Afro-Atlantic Religions, Paul Christopher Johnson, ed.  Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Excerpt: “…this chapter explores interrelated understandings of spiritual and material possession – “possession by” and “possession of” – in the [Universal Church of the Kingdom of God] and similar neo-Pentecostal churches.  Spirit possession is central to Afro-Brazilia religions such as Candombé and Umbanda.  yet many Pentecostal Christians believe that the spirits that possess the practitioners of these religions are demons, and the practices of the [Universal church] in particular focus on liberating people from demonic influence.  This influence is seen as the cause of afflictions ranging from physcial illness to depression and of misfortunes such as divorce or unemployment.

In addition, some Pentecostal churches, especially third-wave or neo-Pentecostal ones, espouse what is often referred to derisively as the “theology of prosperity.”  Also know as the “health and wealth” gospel in North America, its proponents preach that the acquisition of material possessions is possible through faith.  The [Universal church] and similar neo-Pentecostal churches combine their promises of prosperity with an emphasis on deliverance from demons.  At first glance the relationship between these two kinds of possession might seem spurious, but they are closely connected.  In the most explicit formulation of this connection, as we see in the [Universal church], liberation from spiritual possession opens the way for the accumulation of material possessions.  That is, demonic control (possession by) impedes our realization of the prosperity (possession of) that God desires for human beings.”

Film, “God Loves Uganda”

November 12, 2013

Williams, Roger Ross. 2013. God Loves Uganda. 83 min.

Filmaker’s Description:  The feature-length documentary God Loves Uganda is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right.

The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow Biblical law.

Frederick, “For the Love of Money? “

September 26, 2013

Frederick, Marla F.  2013.  “For the Love of Money?: Distributing the Go$pel beyond the United States.  Callaloo 36(3).

Excerpt: In this paper, I wrestle with the power of religious globalization as it relates to the expansion of American media markets in Jamaica. By looking at the influence of United States-based, market driven models of religious broadcasting on local religious distributors like Mercy and Truth Ministries and Love TV in Jamaica, this paper teases out the ways in which market logics intersect and at times undermine altruistic claims to the work of ministry. In these instances the kind of love—absent preoccupations with money and power—that Rev. Miller spoke of is often usurped by the very real costs of ministry. Religious broadcasting has taken the gospel, which many evangelical Christians consider “the Greatest Love Story in the World,” embodied in the scripture’s profession that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,” and turned it into a different gospel. The gospel of love and redemption amended to a gospel of health and wealth. “Love of God” is often comingled with “Love of Money.” If anything this paper argues that religious producers are not independent purveyors of the predominance of economic logics that drive religious broadcasting; instead, producers and distributors are intimately connected in a pattern of economic profitability that often challenges non-United States based local broadcasters who want to remain independent/ministry focused engines of social change in their respective communities. The threat of competition and the need for economic solvency in a paid-time era—wherein broadcasters have to raise their own support through book and tape sales—requires the best of business models to survive in a globalized religious broadcasting market.

Girard, “The outpouring of development”

July 25, 2013

Girard, William. 2013. The outpouring of development: place, prosperity, and the Holy Spirit in Zion Ministries. Religion 43(3): 385-402.

Abstract: This article explores a Pentecostal vision of economic development in Central America and considers how it becomes ‘really real’ for adherents, in part, through a sense of place. These Christians maintain that economic progress can only occur through the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, whose role in development becomes apparent to them as they encounter a correspondence between three elements at three different churches: the church’s level of prosperity; the intensity of the Holy Spirit; and the level of development associated with the broader locality. The article first describes this development project and explores the town of Copán Ruinas, Honduras – considered the least developed of the three places – and then provides an ethnographic account of all three churches, moving ‘up’ from Copán Ruinas through San Pedro Sula (the wealthiest city in Honduras) and ending in Guatemala City. To track the differences between these churches, the article attends to the variations in texture between them.

Wanner, “The city as promised land”

July 25, 2013

Wanner, Catherine. 2013. The city as promised land: moral reasoning, evil, and the dark side of capitalism in Ukraine. Religion 43(3): 365-384.

Abstract: The theological prescriptions of a believer’s burden preached at a large non-denominational Charismatic megachurch in Ukraine involve transforming the city in which one lives into a promised land. The means to do so involve making money and using that money to create ‘blessings’ for others. The actions of a group of entrepreneurs associated with this megachurch who have put this theology into practice have led to cross-cutting indictments of evil. The controversy that ensued over the proper response of a believer to suffering and urban plight reveals how the processes of moral reasoning to determine the sources of evil can be interpreted very differently when there is little agreement over the divine or demonic providence of money and what the public role of religion should be.

Maddox, “Prosper, consume and be saved”

May 21, 2013

Maddox, Marion. 2012. Prosper, consume and be saved. Critical Research on Religion. 1(1):108-113.

Abstract:  A Sydney-based megachurch with global reach, well-known for its ‘‘prosperity gospel’’ of financial acquisition, has developed an additional strand: a detailed theology of consumption. The affinity between a theology of guilt-free—indeed, obligatory—consumption and late capitalism goes some way towards explaining the attraction this minority strand of Christianity holds for politicians, including those without personal religious commitments, in a secular electorate.

Haynes, “On the Potential and Problems of Pentecostal Exchange”

February 25, 2013

Hanyes, Naomi. 2013. “On the Potential and Problems of Pentecostal Exchange.” American Anthropologist 115(1):85-95.

Abstract: In this article, I draw on ethnography from the Zambian Copperbelt to examine the social productivity of the Pentecostal prosperity gospel, a Christian movement centered on the idea that it is God’s will for believers to be wealthy. In the light of the challenges that recent economic history has posed to Copperbelt relational life, Pentecostalism has become an important source of hierarchy—and, therefore, of social organization. This social productivity is evident in the complex patterns of exchange that emerge as believers make gifts to God and religious leaders. An analysis of Pentecostal exchange reveals that the hierarchical relationships forged through religious adherence are often in danger of being undermined by economic concerns, and prosperity gospel practice is therefore continually mobilized to protect these ties. In this discussion, I foreground the position of Pentecostalism among the repertoire of ideas, practices, and beliefs involved in negotiating social life in times of economic uncertainty.

Marti “The Adaptability of Pentecostalism”

April 19, 2012

Marti, Gerardo.  2012.  “The Adaptability of Pentecostalism: The Fit between Prosperity Theology and Globalized Individualization in a Los Angeles Church” Pneuma 34(1): 5-25.

Abstract: A main theme in the study of global Pentecostalism is its adaptability to the modern world system; yet, the way in which adaptability “works“ is not well theorized. Hannah Arendt’s analysis of “the private and public realm“ and Ulrich Beck’s description of “individualization and self-culture“ offer heuristic frameworks for understanding how prosperity theology is well-suited to macro-historical patterns that address the growing individualization of everyday life, especially in relation to uncertain career paths and risk-oriented work structures. Arendt’s and Beck’s theoretical conceptualizations move away from sect-like notions of Pentecostals cultivating a bounded system among the non-Spirit-filled natives. Instead, their theoretical conceptualizations reveal Pentecostalism — especially in its prosperity orientation — to be fully compatible with individualization processes experienced by and demanded from today’s workers. A case study of the ministry of Oasis Christian Center to Hollywood entertainment industry workers illustrates connections between the Prosperity/Word of Faith orientation of the congregation and overarching processes of individualization.

Comaroff & Comaroff, “Neo-Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism: Perspectives from the Social Sciences”

March 20, 2012

Comaroff, Jean & John Comaroff (2012) “Neo-Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism: Perspectives from the Social Sciences” in Elias Kifon Bongmba, ed, The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to African Religions. Wiley & Sons, Malden MA, Pp. 62-78.

Excerpt: “Prolegomenon: Herewithin three glimpses into the new religious world order. The First is from Post-apartheid South Africa. The New Life Church is to be found in Malifkeng, in the North West Province. Founded just before the fall of apartheid, it typifies as brand of upbeat, technically-hyped Pentecostalism that is aspiring to fill the moral void left by a withering of revolutionary ideals and civic norms in the postcolony. While New Life is the creation of a talented pair of pastors, a husband and wife who had reshaped it independently of denominational oversight, their community belongs to the International Federation of Christian Churches; this is a global network of congregations, all of which combine a lively charismatic realism with a frank morality, the latter embodied in a subject not embarrassed by this-worldly desire. . . “

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