Blessed Bodies: Healing within the African American Faith Movement

Catherine Bowler

in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780195393408
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894390 | DOI:
Blessed Bodies: Healing within the African American Faith Movement

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This chapter reports ethnographic research on a storefront African American Word of Faith Church, Durham, North Carolina, that practices healing within a Prosperity Gospel. Faith is measured in the body—one’s health—making material reality the measure of immaterial faith. Black Protestantism has long combined metaphysical religions, New Thought, African-derived traditions (hoodoo, voodoo, conjure, rootwork), and pentecostalism. Leaders include: “Reverend Ike,” Frederick K. C. Price, Keith Butler, Leroy Thompson, Eddie Long, Creflo Dollar, T. D. Jakes. Faith is a force that actuates words through “positive confession.” Believers avoided “negative confession” by ignoring “sense knowledge,” acting as if well until healing “manifested,” not asking for prayer repeatedly. Believers conducted spiritual warfare against demons through deliverance. The congregation studied had access to medical care but mistrusted medicine as inferior to faith, partly because the healthcare system had failed to provide African Americans with color-blind treatment. Congregants variously interpreted “failure” to receive healing.

Keywords: African American; Faith movement; Word of Faith; Prosperity Gospel; metaphysical religions; New Thought; hoodoo; Frederick K. C. Price; positive confession; medicine

Chapter.  10864 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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