Telling Stories: The unique problems and possibilities of Charismatic Evangelical Worship


I am woefully behind on completing my paper for the Society of Vineyard Scholars event that takes place later this April.  My abstract and outline for my paper are below.


My paper addresses the current situation of where Evangelical belief and worship practice is understood by many, as intrinsic to and giving rise to the most pathological practices of late capitalist society.  Within this Evangelical worship is often viewed as the apogee of this problematic; something irredeemable and to be turned away from.  My own denomination is often cited as an example of such worship practices.  I suggest that despite its many culpabilities, Evangelical worship, and in particular that of my own denomination as Charismatic Evangelicals, offers the greatest potential to remedy and respond to these problems. 

My paper establishes the need for an insiders re-telling of Evangelicals in relationship to Capitalism to understand these pathologies, and as a re-parative act. I suggest such a narration is well made through the methods of Charles Taylor’s social imageries and Benedict Anderson’s imagined communities.  Then with the work James K.A Smith I show how concrete worship practices within Evangelical social imaginaries, have set up pathological resonances with late capitalism, perfecting the practices of the market place.

I then propose how we might deploy Oliver O’Donovan’s ‘four movements of the Christ event’ as an Evangelical social imaginary. Such a social imaginary is thoroughly Evangelical, able to work with the logic of Evangelical worship practices and resist the pathologies of late capitalism.  Here I make my claim for the unique potential of Evangelical worship and of how my own charismatic Evangelical Worship might be able to powerfully and constructively respond to the very problems it has caused.