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17th December 2010
It’s as modern as Marconi, as global as Coca-Cola and as troubling to authority as Marxism once was. Pentecostalism is a religion beating modernity at its own game. It was invented at the beginning of the twentieth century and is the very model of a modern Christianity, disturbing not only to hard line atheists but even to the Catholic Church and the Chinese Communist Party. Nearly one quarter of the 2 billion Christians in the world are now Pentecostals (and counting). This feature explores just what it is that’s made Pentecostalism the fastest growing form of today's Christianity.
Presenter Philip Dodd explores its extraordinary global reach, from the backstreets of Grimethorpe in Yorkshire to Seoul in South Korea (home of the largest Pentecostal church in the world), from Sao Paolo to Colorado. He also explores its love affair with modernity - founded in Los Angeles in 1906, the same year Marconi experimented with a wireless voice; now Pentecostal churches use the mobile phone and podcasts to recruit and keep believers.
The programme also highlights its challenge to the rationalism of the Enlightenment through its emphasis on people's direct experience of God, ‘speaking in tongues’ unmediated by either the authority of the Word or the reason of secularism. Along with Disney, Pentecostalism is a central part of the contemporary 'experience economy'. And no less than radio itself, Pentecostalism is committed to the absolute power of the voice.
Presenter: Philip Dodd
Producer: Simon Hollis
A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4