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Tapping into the Anointing: Pentecostal Pedagogy, Connectivity, and Power in Contemporary Ghana

  • Author(s): Reinhardt, Bruno Mafra Ney
  • Advisor(s): Hirschkind, Charles
  • et al.
Abstract

Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity has grown vigorously in sub-Saharan Africa especially since the 1980s. Ghana is no exception. Pentecostal churches' ecclesiastical, mediatic, and welfare networks have secured a strategic public role to these organizations in the country by filling part of the material and moral gaps left by the Ghanaian state in its post-structural adjustment moment. A new generation of influential charismatic leaders has emerged as the local faces of this global movement. Those are women, but mostly men who embody a Christian ethos that coordinates intense piety with self-achievement, inviting the youth to follow their ways. But this history is not only one of successful expansion, as observed in widespread public anxieties about the authenticity of "men of god" in the country. Concerned with the methods of authoritative reproduction of charismatic leadership, my research is based on 14 months of ethnographic fieldwork centered on the transmission of Pentecostalism in Ghana through both formal and informal methods of "discipleship", the process of ushering new converts into the Christian life. Chapter one situates the problem of Christian conversion in history, whereas chapter two builds an ethnographic model based on how converts move from "spiritual rebirth" to "spiritual maturation" and how their faith grows. Chapters three to five explore the discipleship structures of Lighthouse Chapel International, focusing especially on the Anagkazo Bible and Ministry Training Center, where the denomination's future full-time ministers are nurtured to recognize and attend to the call of God. Some of my guiding questions are: What is the role of human relations in Pentecostal piety? How is charisma transferred or transmitted? How learning unfolds in charismatic spirituality without jeopardizing the givenness of grace and the sovereign agency of the Holy Spirit? What is the role of pedagogy in the social reproduction of pastoral norms? How charisma finds different strategies of distribution, according to specific ecclesiastical forms? I mobilize conceptual tools provided by the anthropology of Christianity, linguistic anthropology, and the anthropology of ethics in order to develop a theoretical framework that allows me to think the pedagogical dissemination of charismatic discourse in Ghana, focusing especially on how religious empowerment becomes predicated on specific forms of willing obedience.

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