Accepted paper:

Development of local ecclesiology of the Zomi (Chin) assemblies of god (AG) in Myanmar: a case study in contextualization


Denise Ross (University of Birmingham)

Paper short abstract:

This research investigates how Chin Pentecostalism has contextualised their theology to their socio-economic context, using a case-study of the ecclesiology of the Zomi AG.

Paper long abstract:

Researching Chin Pentecostal theology is significant because of the dearth of studies on Pentecostal contextualisation and the expulsion of foreign missionaries from Myanmar was opportune to develop local theology. Some scholars of Pentecostalism maintain that Pentecostals are insensitive to culture and are irrelevant to socio-economic concerns yet the Chin AG themselves claim that their church is well contextualised to their culture, but these claims have not been investigated comprehensively. This empirical research tests existing contextual models on the Chin to examine how they contextualised their ecclesiology and if Pentecostals have unique characteristics to contextualise. Qualitative ethnographic research methods including participant observation and interviews are used, as well as theological analysis of documentary sources. The research sample includes AG leaders, pastors, theologians and theological educators as well as the congregation of Zomi AG churches in Yangon and Kalaymo in Myanmar. The findings from this research will provide evidence regarding how the Chin developed local theology and how contextualised it is, examining the influence of their own socio-economic context. The influence of the American Baptist missionaries who formerly established their theological foundations and introduced cultural changes will also be examined. The main conclusions drawn from this research will be what criteria and process the Chin used in contextualising their theology to their socio-economic context and how this dynamic may be generalised to apply to other Pentecostal contexts. The thesis will then try to formulate principles of contextualisation specific for Pentecostals, based on the findings from the case-study and interaction with contextualisation theory.

panel P46
Global Christianity: remaking social worlds in South and Southeast Asia