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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: June 2014

Chapter 1 - Introduction


Understanding terms

The Pentecostal and Charismatic movements in all their multifaceted variety probably constitute the fastest growing churches within Christianity today. According to often-quoted, controversial and undoubtedly inflated estimates, there were over 600 million adherents worldwide in 2010 found in almost every country in the world. Nobody can be sure about numbers of religious adherents, but at most they give an indication that something significant is happening in the demography of world Christianity. Even if these figures are inflated wild guesses, they indicate that within a century, Pentecostal, Charismatic and associated movements have become a numerical force in world Christianity and may represent up to a quarter of all Christians. But this figure overlaps with membership of older churches and is by no means exclusive, as the numbers include at least a hundred million Catholics in the Charismatic renewal and millions in independent churches in Africa and Asia. Nevertheless, Pentecostalism continues to expand into the twenty-first century. Although the term ‘Pentecostalism’ is used here in an all-embracing way to include the Charismatic movement and new churches of many different descriptions, the subtitle of this book includes ‘Charismatic Christianity’ because we must sometimes distinguish between denominational or ‘classical’ Pentecostalism and those other movements within older churches, autochthonous prophetic churches in the Majority World and the Charismatic independent churches.