Pacifism and Pentecostals in South Africa

A New Hermeneutic for Nonviolence

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Marius Nel
  • New York, NY: 
    , May
     238 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Most of the early twentieth-century Pentecostal denominations were peace churches that encouraged a stance of conscientious objection. However, since the Second World War Pentecostals have largely abandoned their pacifist viewpoint as they have taken on a more literal Biblical hermeneutic from their interaction with Evangelical denominations. This book traces the history of nonviolence in Pentecostalism and suggests that a new hermeneutic of the Bible is needed by today’s Pentecostals in order for them to rediscover their pacifist roots and effect positive social change. 

The book focuses on how Pentecostalism has manifested in South Africa during the twentieth century. Much of the available academic literature on hermeneutics and exegesis in the field of Pentecostal Studies is of an American or British-European origin. This book redresses this imbalance by exploring how the Bible has been used amongst African Pentecostals to teach on the apparent paradox of a simultaneously wrathful and loving God. It then goes onto suggest that how the Bible is read directly affects how Pentecostals view their role as potential reformers of society. So, it must be engaged seriously and thoughtfully.

By bringing Pentecostalism’s function in South African society to the fore, this book adds a fresh perspective on the issue of pacifism in world Christianity. As such it will be of great use to scholars of Pentecostal Studies, Theology, and Religion and Violence as well as those working in African Studies.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Marius Nel is Research Professor at North-West University, South Africa. He has written numberous articles on Biblical Studies and hermeneutics and contributed to several collections including the Oxford Dictionary of the Bible and Ethics. His own books include Aspects of Pentecostal Theology (2015).


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