Why the unacceptability of Pentecostalism? (Martin, 2002)

11 10 2007

O trecho abaixo, do livro Pentecostalism: the world their parish de David Martin, cita algumas razões para a resistência ao Pentecostalismo (os grifos são meus).

It includes Pentecostal indifference to notions of authenticity and the way the gains of participation are linked to the vigorous exercise of authority. One major factor: the way many Pentecostals embrace social quietism at the expense of analytical social criticism, though they recognize well enough the injustice.

Embora isso seja, de certo modo, conveniente para governos ou figuras investidas de autoridade.

For them the “world” and “nature” are swallowed up in an ecstasy which divides believers from a secular reality dominated by the age-old Enemy of Mankind. A dualism of faith and world reanimates a primitive Christian vocabulary of spiritual warfare “against wickedness in high places.” Perhaps it is this terminology of spiritual war that arouses suspicion, at least by comparison with “struggle.” (…)

Mas se tal terminologia não é dirigida a instituições, governos, ou pessoas em si, por que seria motivo para antagonismos?

The Pentecostal virtues of betterment, self-discipline, aspiration, and hard work are those which in the western experience are assigned to the first, harsh phase of modernization. Though they clearly assist the survival of the poor and help forward fledging economies, they are dismissible as mere “capitalist work discipline” and have so far resisted translation into contemporary liberal attitudes. Pentecostals belong to groups which liberals cast in the role of victim, and in every way they refuse to play that role. By contrast with those social milieux in which people admire either communitarian obligation or individual autonomy, they obstinately adhere to the disciplines of the nuclear family. As people remote from the political and educated classes and with few resources, Pentecostals concentrate their effort on “doing good to them that are of the household of faith.”

Curioso que o autor não veja essa attitude caracteristicamente pentecostal de concentrar ajuda social aos “da família da fé” como outro possível motivo de resistência.

There is also resistance to the emphasis on the supernatural, including the miraculous, rather than the orderliness of nature. This is linked to the recovery of a “primitive” Christianity. However, it has also to do with the kind of theodicy (or justification of the ways of God) which can be latent in classical Pentecostalism and often manifest in Neo-Pentecostalism. This theodicy spans the whole cultural range from an instrumental attitude towards divine power present in what (for want of agreed acceptable terminology) has to be called “folk” or “primitive” religion, and a consumerist attitude towards faith found on the debatable margins of post-modernity.

This fusion of instrumentality and consumerism is particularly evident with respect to healing from diseases and bedevilments, and includes an implicit or explicit bargain with Providence: give in order that you may receive; have faith and God will save you from the ills that threaten you. This can, of course, simply express a law of spiritual existence to the effect that those who surrender themselves reap an abundant harvest of grace and fulfillment, but quite slight changes of intonation easily lead to major changes of emphasis. One may, for example, recognize that greater bodily and internal well-being follow from a disciplined and faithful life (especially where psychosomatic ills are rife) but then shift towards an inherent link between virtue and achievement, or between faith and a form of Christian body-building. In Neo-Pentecostalism this kind of slick theodicy can play a major role. What had been a consequence of virtue turns into its evident proof, with the corollary that those who fail or fall ill have also failed in faith. Inner devastation follows. Thus the “empowerment” of “the poor,” which is usually “acceptable,” becomes an embrace of power per se, and of a “God of power and might,” most obviously on the part of the leaders, which is conspicuously “unacceptable.” The “miracles” of restoration undeniably observed among the poor can be redeployed as tinsel advertisements for itinerant wonder-workers.

(Martin, David. Pentecostalism: the world their parish, 2002: 9-11)


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