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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Pentecostalism beyond belief: trust and democracy in a Malawian township
Author:Englund, HarriISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Malawi
popular beliefs
External links:https://doi.org/10.3366/afr.2007.77.4.477
Abstract:The concept of belief, when applied in its strong sense, assumes an inner state that sets believers apart from non-believers. This article suggests that a concept of trust is more appropriate for the study of the religious orientation among Pentecostal Christians in Chinsapo, an impoverished township in Malawi's capital city. Trust is a critical issue because even fellow members of Pentecostal congregations can turn out to have been sent by the Devil. Pastors also have to exercise considerable forbearance in order to encourage spiritual growth among backsliders. The boundaries of Pentecostal congregations are often permeable, with little emphasis on doctrinal differences. Pentecostal Christians also have frequent contact with kin, neighbours, customers and co-workers who do not share their religious orientation. Rather than being a matter of calculating risks, trust emerges in relation to the existential dangers of misfortune, hunger and disease that affect the lives of all township dwellers. Everyday contexts of township life are as important as proselytizing in generating trust between Pentecostals and those who are yet to experience the second birth in the Holy Spirit. In contrast to views that lament Africans' particularized trust relations as an obstacle to democracy, this article suggests that generalized trust can emerge from a particular religious orientation. The article draws attention to the actual sources of civility and trust in contemporary Africa. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]