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Into Wind and Water: How American Pentecostalism Is Changing

Home for the summer after my first year at Harvard Divinity School, I enter the worship center of Calvary Temple Church in Concord, California, to find a swimming pool erected on the platform. The fourth weekend service is already in full swing and the 850-seat room is mostly full. While the band and choir belt out a song of sparse creedal poetry (“We believe in the Father, the Son, and the Spirit . . .”), one of the pastors baptizes new Christians in the heated water. A mood of celebration is palpable: cheering and clapping follow each splash. Church staff hand towels to the smiling, dripping converts leaving the pool on one side, while still dry candidates descend into the water on the other side. The miraculous catch of fish in Luke 5 comes to mind as I watch. Nets were cracking then, sailors hollering, boats sinking—a disorderly affair that concluded with a cryptic suggestion about becoming “fishers of people.” I ask myself: is this chaos Christianity?...

Read the rest of this article in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin.


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