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The Assemblies of God

Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism

Margaret Poloma, John Green, 0

Publication Year: 2010

“An insightful, empirically based analysis of how the Assemblies of God denomination is changing in response to modernity. This multimethod book, based on both surveys and field research, contributes to a growing sociological literature on Pentecostalism.”

Published by: NYU Press

Front Matter

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pp. vii-x

This book revisits Margaret Poloma’s (1989) pioneering sociological research on the Assemblies of God. We wish to acknowledge the role that the late Dr. Thomas F. Zimmerman, then General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God (AG), played in graciously listening to Poloma’s proposal and encouraging pastors to participate in the original study. Although not always ...

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pp. 1-18

Although religious revivals have been said to be “as American as baseball, blues music and the stars and stripes” (McClymond 2007, xvii), they inevitably stir up controversy as well as revive faith. The Azusa Street Revival that occurred in Los Angeles between 1906 and 1909, now commonly credited as the birthplace of Pentecostalism, had followers and detractors, as did ...

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1. Congregational Overview

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pp. 19-44

The above epigraph was penned by Pastor James T. (Jim) Bradford of Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, one of the twenty-one congregations included in our study. Bradford has since relocated to the nearby U.S. Headquarters of the AG, where he serves as General Secretary and a member of the denomination’s Executive Presbytery. If Springfield is ...

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2. Charisma and Structure in the Assemblies of God: Theoretical Overview

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pp. 45-60

Although most traditional Pentecostals have been wary of new revivals outside the denomination, the AG has been revitalized at least in some degree by them. Tension has always found a home within the AG; in fact, it can be argued that a degree of tension between what we have been calling the primal and the pragmatic—or, to use sociological concepts, ...

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3. Pentecostal Identity and the Charismata: Mixed Motivation and Religious Experience

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pp. 61-78

The concern expressed by Eric Patterson in the above epigraph, found in the conclusion of his and Edmund Rybarczyk’s edited volume The Future of Pentecostalism in the United States (2007), serves as a fresh reminder that the AG remains at an intersection. In Crossroads Poloma (1989) used the sociological theory of Thomas O’Dea to explore in detail the dilemmas inherent ...

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4. Structure and Charisma: Doctrine, Power, and Administration

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pp. 79-101

Although the humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow penned the above epigraph nearly sixty-five years after the Azusa Street Revival, the early Pentecostals would wholeheartedly have agreed with his thesis. Having experienced Pentecost like they believe the early Apostles did, they did not want to see it fall prey to “dead religion.” Well into the 1980s, when ...

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5. Spirit Baptism and Spiritual Transformation: An Exercise in Socio-Theology

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pp. 102-120

Baptism in the Spirit, identified as the “crown jewel” of pentecostal theology by AG theologian Frank Macchia (2006c), is at the heart of pentecostal spiritual transformation. An experience subsequent to Christian conversion or being “born again,” it opens believers’ eyes to a dimension of reality that is a-rational and supra-empirical. Spirit baptism marks the beginning ...

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6. Spiritual Empowerment: Pray-ers, Prophets, and Healers in the Pews

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pp. 121-143

Early Pentecostals, including the Assemblies of God, intentionally ignored many of the theological distinctions that have marked various flavors of American Protestantism, but they soon found themselves embroiled in doctrinal squabbles of their own making. As AG historian Edith Blumhofer (1993, 4) astutely described the paradox, Pentecostals ...

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7. Law of Love and Love of Law: Beliefs, Mores, and Faces of Love

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pp. 144-170

In a posthumously published work that is painstakingly difficult to read, sociologist Philip Rieff (2007) critiques aspects of the Weberian theory of charisma as he writes a treatise on “the gift of grace, and how it has been taken away from us.” At times reading like the work of a scholar with a mind far beyond most mortals, while in other sections sounding like the ranting of a curmudgeon ...

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8. Ushering in the Kingdom of God: Religious Values, Godly Love, and Public Affairs

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pp. 171-187

Paul Alexander represents an example of recent efforts by young Pentecostals to understand the implications of their faith for public affairs. Here, as in other areas, the Assemblies of God confronts a dilemma between the “law of love” and the “love of law” that can encourage different—even contradictory—approaches to public life. On the one hand, distinctive Pentecostal ...

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9. Covenants, Contracts, and Godly Love

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pp. 188-206

Grant Wacker (2001, 15) has identified a process that has gone on throughout the history of Christendom in which groups “have found ways to weave heavenly aspirations with everyday realities.” This interchange between primitive experiences and pragmatic practices serves as a foundation for Wacker’s historical discussion of Pentecostalism. While taking for granted the ...

Appendix A: Statistical Tables (Pastors Survey)

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pp. 207-210

Appendix B: Congregational Measurement Scales

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pp. 211-218

Appendix C: Statistical Tables (Congregational Survey)

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pp. 219-224


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pp. 225-238


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pp. 239-248


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pp. 249-258

About the Authors

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p. 259-259

E-ISBN-13: 9780814767849
E-ISBN-10: 0814767842
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814767832
Print-ISBN-10: 0814767834

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Christian sociology -- Assemblies of God.
  • Christian sociology -- United States.
  • United States -- Religious life and customs.
  • Assemblies of God.
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