Blood and Fire: Godly Love in a Pentecostal Emerging Church

Blood and Fire: Godly Love in a Pentecostal Emerging Church

by Margaret M. Poloma, Ralph W. Hood, Jr.


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What does it mean to live out the theology presented in the Great Commandment to “love God above all and to love your neighbor as yourself”? In Blood and Fire, Poloma and Hood explore how understandings of godly love function to empower believers. Though godly love may begin as a perceived relationship between God and a person, it is made manifest as social behavior among people.

Blood and Fire offers a deep ethnographic portrait of a charismatic church and its faith-based ministry, illuminating how religiously motivated social service makes use of beliefs about the nature of God's love. It traces the triumphs and travails associated with living a set of rigorous religious ideals, providing a richly textured analysis of a faith community affiliated with the “emerging church” movement in Pentecostalism, one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic religious movements of our day.

Based on more than four years of interviews and surveys with people from all levels of the organization, from the leader to core and marginal members to the poor and addicts they are seeking to serve, Blood and Fire sheds light on the differing worldviews and religious perceptions between those who served in as well as those who were served by this ministry.

Blood and Fire argues that godly love— the relationship between perceived divine love and human response— is at the heart of the vision of emerging churches, and that it is essential to understand this dynamic if one is to understand the ongoing reinvention of American Protestantism in the twenty-first century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814767481
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 11/01/2008
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 904,093
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Margaret M. Poloma is Professor Emeritus at the University of Akron. She is the author of many books, including Main Street Mystics ,and (with Ralph W. Hood, Jr.) Blood and Fire: Godly Love in a Pentecostal Emerging Church (NYU Press, 2008).

Ralph Hood, Jr., is Professor of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. He is the co-author of The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism ; The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach ; and Measures of Religiosity ; and editor of The Handbook of Religious Experience.

Table of Contents

1 Congregational Overview
2 Charisma and Structure in the Assemblies of God Theoretical Overview
3 Pentecostal Identity and the Charismata
Mixed Motivation and Religious Experience
4 Structure and Charisma
Doctrine, Power, and Administration
5 Spirit Baptism and Spiritual Transformation
An Exercise in Socio-Theology
6 Spiritual Empowerment
Pray-ers, Prophets, and Healers in the Pews
7 Law of Love and Love of Law
Beliefs, Mores, and Faces of Love
8 Ushering in the Kingdom of God
Religious Values, Godly Love, and Public Affairs
9 Covenants, Contracts, and Godly Love
(with Matthew T. Lee)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Blood and Fire comprises one of the most fascinating, and potentially controversial, social-scientific studies of Pentecostalism in recent years, and demands wide readership among all those interested in the social scientific study of Pentecostalism, as well as in the institutional effectiveness of intentional, holistic, and integral ministries."-Pneuma,

"Blood and Fire is a fascinating book in several senses."-Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,

"This work will be useful to those interested in the emerging church movement and Protestant charismatics. The church's trajectory—which ended before the fieldwork study was over—will also engage those interested in studying the at-times messy intertwining of religious institutions, prophetic leadership, and supernaturally focused practices."


"An exceptional book in that it tells the story of the failure of a faith-based movement rather than its success. In a richly textured narrative, the authors describe the limitations of religious charisma when it confronts the harsh reality of a business-minded board that requires accountability. This book is fascinating reading for anyone who wants to understand the interplay between spirit and flesh, vision and economic reality."
-Donald E. Miller,Executive Director, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California

"Useful to those interested in the emerging church movement and Protestant charismatics."-Choice

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