The institutionalization of experiential religion - a study of Newfoundland Pentecostalism

Pinsent, William Paul (1998) The institutionalization of experiential religion - a study of Newfoundland Pentecostalism. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the degree to which changes occurring in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland reflect the sociological process of institutionalization in a context of secularization. The analysis includes an examination of changes that have occurred in the movement from its inception in 1910 up to the present. -- Methodologically the thesis uses heuristic constructs developed by Max Weber (1864-1920), Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923), H. Richard Niebuhr(1894-1962), and Bryan R. Wilson (1926- ): sect, denomination and church. These types provide for a continuum along which a religious group's progress can be understood during its development. When specific characteristics of the typology are applied to the Newfoundland Pentecostal movement, it is suggested that the initial introversionist Pentecostal sect, which was characterized by an experiential religiosity, a distinct holiness ethos, and immanent eschatology, evolved into a full fledged denomination, with all the bureaucratic structural supports of an institutionalized religion. -- The thesis argues that — while the initial religious group under the leadership of Alice Belle Garrigus (1858-1949) was an introversionist sect — by the early 1920s characteristics of a conversionist sect were becoming evident. It was this shift in the primary character and ethos of the sect that was the first step towards institutionalization. It is further argued that the influx of Methodist and Salvation Army parishioners into the sect was partially responsible for this shift in sectarian group typology as was a new leadership drawn from those churches. Changes in evangelism and a conflict over leadership of the sect, were also conducive to a relatively early shift toward institutionalization. -- Specific organizational changes further exemplify this trend. It is shown that over time males came to dominate the leadership of the movement. This patriarchal domination eventually led to the establishment of a hierarchal system of control that resulted in a paid ministry, an emphasis on training and education, ordination policies, as well as financial and business structures, all of which are characteristic of a movement towards a denomination. -- Finally, it is argued that secularization has had a transformative effect on the ideology and praxis of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland. Social mobility and educational attainment, for example, have become important goals for Pentecostals. Doctrinal stances regarding divorce and remarriage, and ecumenicity, as well as changes in worship practices, are presented as being representative of a decline in the distinctiveness of early Pentecostal ideology and praxis. Concomitant with these changes in doctrine and practice has also been a recent decline in membership and churches.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1456
Item ID: 1456
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [191]-203
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Religious Studies
Date: 1998
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland; Pentecostalism--Newfoundland and Labrador--History; Secularization--Newfoundland and Labrador

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