Between Stewardship and Sacrifice: Agency and Economy in a Southern California Charismatic Church

Jon Bialecki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite a growing interest in the anthropology of Christianity, the economic practices of the North American-inspired stream of theologically conservative Evangelical and Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians have received comparatively little attention. Analysing economic practices and forms of musical worship in a middle-class, mixed-ethnicity Charismatic ‘Vineyard’ church located in Southern California, this article argues that apparently contradictory aspects of Charismatic Christian economic practice can be understood through use of anthropological ‘spheres of exchange’ theory. Specifically, this article identifies the existence of three different, but interrelated, spheres (secular exchange, stewardship, and sacrifice), each of which has its own guiding assumptions regarding proper morality, agency, and subjectivity for these Charismatic Christians. These differing spheres are used, this article argues, not just to regulate behaviour, but also to allow for moral revaluations of successes and failures, allowing them better to engage as economic actors in the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-390
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008

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