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Friend or foe? Finding common ground between development and Pentecostalism
journal contributionposted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Matthew ClarkeMatthew Clarke
Religious belief is a common human characteristic, with 80 per cent of the world's population professing some religious affiliation. Indeed, global surveys report an increase in "religiosity" across the globe in recent decades. Within Christianity, Pentecostalism has experienced considerable growth, in contrast with the more traditional Christian churches. This growth is occurring across the globe, but is extremely evident within developing countries. Within development studies (both the theory and practice), religion has been negatively portrayed, misunderstood or set aside as not being of importance to development outcomes. Such an approach towards religion is misguided and limits development effectiveness. While religion is certainly not the "answer" to eradicating poverty or overcoming global injustices, authentic engagement by development actors with religion does provide important opportunities to enhance development outcomes. This paper will consider the basic tenets of development theory and practice, and contrast those against Pentecostal theological teaching in order to determine where there exists common ground and where there exists misalignment of values and thus tension. Such assessment is important in order to enhance the religious literacy of the development sector and to better understand how to authentically engage with communities expressing this belief.