The Assemblies of GodGodly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism

The Assemblies of GodGodly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism

Margaret M. Poloma and John C. Green

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780814767832

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

The Assemblies of God (AG) is the ninth-largest American and the world's largest Pentecostal denomination, with over 50 million followers worldwide. The AG embraces a worldview of miracles and mystery that makes “supernatural” experiences, such as speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy, normal for Christian believers. Ever since it first organized in 1916, however, the “charismata” or “gifts of the Holy Spirit” have felt tension from institutional forces. Over the decades, vital charismatic experiences have been increasingly tamed by rituals, doctrine, and denominational structure. Yet the path towards institutionalization has not been clear-cut. New revivals and direct personal experience of God—the hallmarks of Pentecostalism—continue as an important part of the AG tradition, particularly in the growing number of ethnic congregations in the United States. This book draws on fresh, up-to-date research including quantitative surveys and interviews from twenty-two diverse AG congregations to offer a new sociological portrait of the AG for the new millennium. The book suggests that there is indeed a potential revitalization of the movement in the works within the context of the larger global Pentecostal upswing, and that this revitalization may be spurred by what the book calls “godly love,” the dynamic interaction between divine and human love that enlivens and expands benevolence.