Scottish Charismatic House Churches: stories and rituals
MacIndoe, Alistair William
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This thesis is an interpretation of the ritualistic and storied behaviour of two Christian congregations of the Charismatic ‘house-church’ or ‘New Church’ genre, established within the last thirty years in Glasgow, West of Scotland. The exercise is framed by the field of research and commentary on the global rise and impact of the Neo-Pentecostal or Charismatic Movement in the latter part of the twentieth century, from which the ‘house-churches’ derive motivation and ritual, and by the growing field of Congregational Studies pioneered by James F. Hopewell (1988) in Congregation: Stories and Structures. The congregations which form the locus for the fieldwork are Bishopbriggs Charismatic Church (BCC – a pseudonym) in the northern suburbs of Glasgow and Bridgeton Charismatic Fellowship (BCF - a pseudonym), an inner-city congregation in the East End of Glasgow. PART ONE: Charismatic Renewal, Congregational Studies & Two Churches provides the background in terms of general history, methodology, and interpretation of the two congregations. Chapter One charts the history of the Charismatic Movement and the rise of the ‘house-churches’, with particular focus on its history in Scotland. Chapter Two explores the literature relating to the ethnographic axis of ritual and narrative as used in this thesis. Chapter Three explains the rationale for the ethnographic methodology practiced, and its relationship to the theological interpretative schema in which it is framed. Chapter Four is a description of the fieldwork sites and a full picture of the two congregations. Chapter Five is a primary parabolic interpretation of the two congregations. PART TWO: Rituals that Live is a series of themed essays that explore and interpret the essential habitus of the two congregations. Chapter Six argues that music acts to catalyse the Divine-human encounter, turning ‘secular’ space into ‘sacred’ space. In Chapter Seven I observe and interpret the somatic nature of the ritual field. Chapter Eight explores an imaginal process which weaves its revelatory efficacy. Chapter Nine explores the symbiotic relationship of ritual to narrative and Chapter Ten turns ethnographic observation from the central ritual matrix of Sunday morning to the missional activity of the congregations. Chapter Eleven argues for a particular missiology based on motifs and themes arising from the previous six chapters. PART THREE: Beyond the Written Word concludes the thesis by arguing that the Charismatic habitus of the house-churches indicates a surprising turn of Protestant congregations to semiotics and orality. Following Catherine Pickstock (1998) and Walter J. Ong (1969) I contend that this turn is a pursuit of presence against the distancing effects of the written and propositional dogmas of Protestant ancestry.