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Pentecostalism and sustainability: conflict or convergence?

Sheppard, Kylie Louise (2007) Pentecostalism and sustainability: conflict or convergence? PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Sustainability has become a prominent global project through which peoples and nations are seeking to alleviate poverty and stop environmental degradation. This thesis explores the contribution that Pentecostalism, a global religious movement of some 500 million people, can make to this project at the several levels of practice, political economy and philosophy.

After an initial chapter where the challenges and dimensions of the sustainability project are outlined, the development and characteristics of Pentecostalism as a dynamic global movement are reviewed. This sets the context for a central empirical case study of Citipointe Christian Outreach Centre (a Pentecostal megachurch in Brisbane, Australia). Survey data, content analysis of sermons, and in depth interviews show how one particular congregation is engaging with the social, economic and environmental issues of sustainability. I conclude that although Citipointe's engagement with sustainability issues at a practical level is weak, their demonstrated commitment to community building and the congregation's shared worldview indicate potential for a more constructive engagement. In light of global Pentecostal praxis I suggest that Pentecostalism holds greater potential to engage with sustainability than is being realised at Citipointe.

This thesis contributes to our understanding of how and why Pentecostals are already engaging in social, economic and environmental issues. More broadly, it develops our understanding of the role Pentecostal Christianity can play in sustainability. This thesis proposes that while Pentecostalism can contribute to sustainability at the level of practice, it can make a deeper contribution by addressing the worldview challenge of sustainability. Pentecostal Christianity does this because it can keep the sustainability discourse open to a wider discussion about God, truth and the purpose of life, rather than limit it to matters of science, technology and public policy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy
Supervisor(s): Barns, Ian
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