Discipline (and Lenience) Beyond the Self

Discipleship in a Pentecostal-Charismatic Organization

in Social Analysis
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Abstract

Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI) is a Ghanaian Pentecostal-charismatic organization with a transnational reach. In this article, I analyze the pedagogical system whereby this denomination has introduced converts into its ‘church planting’ mission. LCI leaders are keenly aware of both the necessity and the perils of discipline to the Christian life, exemplifying two stances of Pentecostal-charismatic ethics and politics: its quantitative concern with accessibility, and its qualitative concern with piety. Attempts to balance these relatively autonomous trends engender a gradational and distributive approach to discipline and leniency in LCI, which calibrates disciplinary demands according to converts’ level of ‘spiritual maturity’. This article takes the dialectics of discipline and lenience that characterizes LCI’s ecclesiology as an opportunity to reconsider religious subject formation beyond the dominant problem of ‘self-fashioning’.

Contributor Notes

Bruno Reinhardt is a Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil. He has done ethnographic fieldwork among practitioners of Afro-Brazilian religions and Pentecostal Christians in Brazil and Ghana. His work orbits around topics such as religion in the public sphere, religious power and authority, religious apprenticeship, and ethics. The author of Espelho ante Espelho: A Troca e a Guerra entre o Neopentecostalismo e os Cultos Afro-Brasileiros em Salvador (2007), he has published articles in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, HAU, Anthropological Theory, Religion, and Journal of Religion in Africa, among others. E-mail: bmreinhardt@gmail.com

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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