Pacifism and Pentecostals in South Africa: A new hermeneutic for nonviolence, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Pacifism and Pentecostals in South Africa

A new hermeneutic for nonviolence, 1st Edition

By Marius Nel


228 pages

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pub: 2018-05-10
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Most of the early twentieth-century Pentecostal denominations were peace churches that encouraged a stance of conscientious objection. However, since the Second World War Pentecostals have largely abandoned their pacifist viewpoint as they have taken on a more literal Biblical hermeneutic from their interaction with Evangelical denominations. This book traces the history of nonviolence in Pentecostalism and suggests that a new hermeneutic of the Bible is needed by today’s Pentecostals in order for them to rediscover their pacifist roots and effect positive social change.

The book focuses on how Pentecostalism has manifested in South Africa during the twentieth century. Much of the available academic literature on hermeneutics and exegesis in the field of Pentecostal Studies is of an American or British-European origin. This book redresses this imbalance by exploring how the Bible has been used amongst African Pentecostals to teach on the apparent paradox of a simultaneously wrathful and loving God. It then goes onto suggest that how the Bible is read directly affects how Pentecostals view their role as potential reformers of society. So, it must be engaged seriously and thoughtfully.

By bringing Pentecostalism’s function in South African society to the fore, this book adds a fresh perspective on the issue of pacifism in world Christianity. As such it will be of great use to scholars of Pentecostal Studies, Theology, and Religion and Violence as well as those working in African Studies.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Stanley Hauerwas

By way of introduction: Motivation for study

1 Church and war: A change in hermeneutical stance among Pentecostals

2 The Bible and violence, and Christians

3 Ideology as violence: Apartheid as a case study

4 A distinctive Pentecostal hermeneutic?

5 The theory and theology of just war: A Pentecostal reflection

6 Synthesis

About the Author


Marius Nel

Porchefstroom, North West, South Africa

Learn more about Marius Nel >>


Marius Nel

Potchefstroom, North-West, South Africa

Learn more about Marius Nel >>

Marius Nel is a Research professor at North-West University, South Africa. He has written numberous articles on Biblical Studies and hermeneutics and contributed to several collections including the Oxford Dictionary of the Bible and Ethics. His own books include Aspects of Pentecostal Theology (2015).

About the Series

Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies

The Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies series brings high quality research monograph publishing back into focus for authors, international libraries, and student, academic and research readers. This open-ended monograph series presents cutting-edge research from both established and new authors in the field. With specialist focus yet clear contextual presentation of contemporary research, books in the series take research into important new directions and open the field to new critical debate within the discipline, in areas of related study, and in key areas for contemporary society.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Biblical Studies / General
RELIGION / Christian Theology / General
RELIGION / Christian Theology / Ethics
RELIGION / Christianity / Pentecostal & Charismatic
RELIGION / Religion, Politics & State
RELIGION / Theology
RELIGION / Religious Intolerance, Persecution & Conflict
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology of Religion
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Violence in Society