Pentecostalism & socio-political engagement: A prolegomenon for the common good†
Pentecostals are traditionally seen as ‘apolitical’. This paper explores the relationship between Pentecostalism and political engagement. It outlines the case for political engagement from a biblical perspective, as well as championing the Aristotelian and Crickian view of politics as the ‘master science’ capable of humanizing social relations. In arguing for active Christian citizenship, it invokes Jeremiah’s ‘Letter to the Exiles’ as a foundational document and a prolegomenon for negotiating questions of Christian leadership and participation in the cultural politics of contemporary society. Using examples from history and contemporary politics, the paper argues that Pentecostals cannot be indifferent to the political institutions, ideas and culture where they live if the biblical metaphor of being ‘salt and light’ is to have relevance in society. The paper explores how one particular Pentecostal organization (Church of God) has grappled with a range of socio-political themes and issues, including race, liberal democracy, internationalism and ‘political culture’. Questions are raised about the nature of ‘political culture’. The paper concludes with a series of reflections on contemporary global politics and the role Pentecostals can play, uniting politics and prayer.