Margaret Poloma on Pentecotalism, the Assemblies of God, and Godly Love
Date: December 6th, 2010
Prof. Margaret Poloma (professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Akron) joins Tony to discuss her new book The Assemblies of God: Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism (co-authored with John Green), which represents an updated look at her critically-acclaimed 1989 work The Assemblies of God at the Crossroads. We begin by exploring the general category of Pentecostalism, looking at both the history and characteristics of this fast-growing faith movement, and comparing it to evangelical Christianity. Poloma notes that although Pentecostalism is commonly referred to as a denomination, it maintains a rather loose “umbrella” structure that contains a number of different theological and stylistic identities. We then turn our attention specifically to the Assemblies of God (AoG), which represents one of the largest “denominations” within the Pentecostal movement. (We briefly discuss that the AoG do not formally consider themselves a “denomination” even though they have the institutional features of a denomination.) Our examination of the AoG turns towards the issue of “routinization of charism,” wherein movements borne of emotional and spiritual fervor often find themselves becoming more tame and institutionalized in successive generations, often leading to slower rates of growth, dissention within the ranks and schismatic movements. Leaders of the movement and then faced with the challenge of how to constantly revitalize the clergy and laity. Margaret provides a number of examples of how this has played out in the Assemblies of God, including the spiritually-energized challenge provided by “immigrant churches” within the AoG such as Pastor Bismark Osei Akomeah’s Jesus Power Assembly of God (founded in Ohio and now with several locations throughout the US). We also discuss the rise of neo-Pentecostalism and the recent emphasis on Godly Love, a revitalizing tendency within Pentecostalism (based on the Great Commandment) and designed to emphasize the dynamic intereaction between the benevolence of God’s grace and human nature. Recorded: November 2, 2010.
The Assemblies of God: Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism by Margaret Poloma and John C. Green.
The Assemblies of God at the Crossroads: Charism and Institutional Dilemmas by Margaret Poloma.
Main Street Mystics: The Toronto Blessing and Reviving Pentecostalsim by Margaret Poloma.
The Great Commandment seminar website (video of a seminar hosted by Vanguard University with screen shots of PowerPoint presentations related to the topic of this podcast).
Philip Jenkins on Global Christianity.
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