The Salvation Army, “Pentecostals” and “Evangelicals”. Negotiating Service and Spirituality, Social Commitment and Caste in India and Worldwide.
Subject Areas: Religious Studies
Scholarship usually studies The Salvation Army (SA) under the rubric “Evangelicalism.” In the southernmost region of India SA leaders and members are currently facing diverse challenges which induce them to reconsider their identity pursuing the topics of social commitment, caste and spirituality. This is carried out by approximation to or demarcation from growing “Pentecostal” movements. This process shows striking parallels to debates on the international level of the SA, where identity markers and core features are also continuously discussed. However, on global level this happens with a focus on “Evangelical” churches. The paper analyses how “Pentecostal” and “Evangelical” are used to constitute what the SA stands for in different contexts. Contrary to large part of scholarship, it does not treat these terms as if they had fixed meanings but regards them as identity markers. Using the example of current debates in the SA, it demonstrates that what is named as “Pentecostal” or “Evangelical” is are not fixed descriptors of essential characteristics but names that emerge in different local contexts tied into and constantly influenced and modified by global debates.
Author: Johanna Weirich
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