Pentecostal/Charismatic Expressions in Global Christianity

Theme and aims

The IAMS study-group Pentecostal/Charismatic Expressions in Global Christianity is concerned with a wide variety of subjects that in different ways relate to the current ”charismatization” of Global Christianity. This global trend has been going on for quite some time especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and charismatic forms of worship and piety (and to some extent doctrine) today is widespread across Christian denominations. Research on this phenomenon is booming as well, not least in anthropology and sociology. In theology the interest has been more moderate. However, it is the understanding of the study group that many of the relevant questions in Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity cannot be understood unless theology – both in the strict sense of doctrine and in a wider sense of Christian faith – is taken into account. In this area the IAMS study-group seeks to be a relevant missiological forum to discuss the phenomenon and to contribute with theological perspectives.

Group function

The study-group works as an open forum for IAMS members, some of which have signed a list to receive special communications on topics of interests occasionally. Members are also keen on conducting workshops and presenting their findings on topics related to Pentecostal/charismatic expressions in global Christianity, especially but not exclusively during IAMS General Conferences. In 2017 the group is working on a special issue of Mission Studies: ”Healing and transformation in Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity”, which is a direct output of the IAMS General Conference in 2016.

History of group

The study-group ‘Healing’ was formally started during the IAMS General Conference meeting at Rome in 1988, with Christoffer Grundmann as appointed convener. Prior to this existed an informal circle of individual members of the association that was interested in the topic ‘The Church as a healing community’ headed by H. -J. Becken. This group was mainly concerned with the phenomenon of healing in the African Independent/Indi­genous/Instituted Churches (AICs). Since the Rome meeting the focus got widened to reflect ‘healing’ in as broad a manner as possible. That’s why the group was named just ‘Healing’. A first report on the program of the group, its vision and objectives is to be found in Missions Studies VI/1, 1989, pp. 70-72 (Aspects of further research within the study project ‘Healing’) other reports are to be found in Mission Studies 10/1, 1993, pp. 219-222; 206-207; 13/1, 1996, pp. 335-337; 17/1, 2000, pp. 120-124.

During the IAMS General Conference held at Port Dickson, Malaysia, in 2004, many papers and contributions in the plenary referred to ‘Spirits & Ghosts’ as vital phenomena. This led to a round-table discussion on ‘Pneumatology and mission studies’. 45+ participants from all six continents expressed the concern to keep the theme on the agenda for Mission Studies. In order to avail of synergies and to streamline respective projects it was decided by group members to let the study-group now be called ‘Healing / Pneumatology’ indicating nothing but two major areas for missiological studies, areas considerably neglected in missiological studies so far. The IAMS General Conference at Balaton, Hungary, reconfirmed this decision in 2008.

During the IAMS General Conference held in Seoul, South Korea, in August 2016, another name-change was discussed that would better reflect the interests of the current study-group members and match the rapid growth of research on Pentecostal/Charismatic forms of Christianity. The group noted that there was no other study-group working specifically within this research area, while at the same time ’Healing/Pneumatology’ seemed like an obscure name. A name-change would open up the group for all IAMS members interested in questions related to a variety of Pentecostal/Charismatic expressions in Global Christianity, not only ’healing’ and ’spirits’. At the same time the change is firmly in line with the history of the study-group.

Study Group Conveners

Prof. Auli Vähäkangas

Professor of Pastoral Theology

Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, Finland

auli.vahakangas[@]helsinki.fi

 

Martina Prosén

PhD Candidate in Global Christianity and Inter-religious relations

Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University, Sweden

martina.prosen[@]ctr.lu.se