Neocharismatic-Evangelical Christianity in Britain: Religious Growth through Public Engagement

James, Bradley (2016) Neocharismatic-Evangelical Christianity in Britain: Religious Growth through Public Engagement. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The thesis examines the under-studied contemporary phenomenon of White British growthfocussed,
“apostolic” neocharismatic Christianity, in a local context. The neocharismaticevangelical
constituency of “Folkfield,” a city in the east of England, is sampled and analysed
using an ethnographic group case study, centred on two of the city’s largest churches: one, a
Hillsong-affiliated independent, the other a Newfrontiers “multi-site” church plant. Also
presented is a sample of other local neocharismatic figures, groups and initiatives, all of
which were active within the city between 2011 and 2013 when fieldwork was undertaken.
The case studies, having described and locally historicised the actors in question,
focus on the organisation of social welfare provision advanced by these groups to the local
population. These services are found to be at the core of emerging efforts by charismatic
“post-denominational” churches to incorporate themselves visibly as local public actors
alongside secular institutions. The services are found to be designed not simply in response to
the local needs of the population, however, but in accordance with a given group’s internal
culture: its religious and theo-political ideology, and the membership structures enforced by
self-determined “apostolic” leaders. At the same time, to the extent that a biblically sectarian
group does advance an agenda for public engagement, it is found in this study to be kept
necessarily aware of its position in a wider evangelical Christian polity (in this case, that
specific to Folkfield): A polity comprised of other independent churches and church leaders,
some allies, some not; and in which modern neocharismatic groups must also consider their
position within the pre-existing Christian establishment – that is for instance, whether or not
to partake in co-operative ventures with local denominational actors, including of course the
Church of England.
The primary lens for understanding the religious subject is therefore socio-political,
generating insight upon these groups as public institutions using a data record compiled
through participant observation, document analysis and interviews with relevant local actors
– neocharismatic, denominational, and secular. The thesis concludes with a summary of
possible future avenues in research, in order to further advance the political as well as
sociological understanding of “post-denominational” Christianity in Britain.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Stacey Armes
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2016 13:24
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2016 13:24


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