Why charismatic Christianity is popular with migrants

Source: The Economist


IT IS A well-established fact among religion-watchers that charismatic forms of Christianity, including the Pentecostal churches, are the fastest-growing variety of the world’s largest monotheism. Another widely agreed statement: these churches’ success reflects their appeal to people in transit. That includes migrants from rural areas to big cities like São Paolo or Lagos, and travellers from the global south to the prosperous north.

Perhaps 700m people, more than a quarter of the world’s Christians, attend charismatic churches. What this fluid religious reality generally encompasses is faith in an activist God whose power can be experienced through miracles, prophecy and speaking spontaneously in unfamiliar tongues. These phenomena are believed to reflect the action of the Holy Spirit, one of three divine persons (along with the Father and Son) who according to Christian doctrine make up a single God.

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  1. Once upon a time I did attend a Pentecostal Church Service. I was told a ‘Prophet’ was there, so I was interested to see. I recall a couple of lines he said: ‘You have a problem’, well, is there any one that would not fit this description? And then there was a pregnant lady. The ‘Prophet’ responded: ‘I am sure you want me to tell now whether it will be a boy or a girl, but I tell you, you did not pay me enough for that’. Ah well, who ever want to be impressed can be, I was not.

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