Conversion Narratives

Allan Anderson, Michael Bergunder, André Droogers and Cornelis van der Laan

in Studying Global Pentecostalism

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780520266612
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947504 | DOI:
Conversion Narratives

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This chapter illustrates how people tell the story of their conversion. To analyze the success of Pentecostalism worldwide, it is imperative to understand the Pentecostal conversion experience. It follows a historical and phenomenological approach to the conversion narrative, analyzing it as a social construction and not necessarily as a factual description of the main events in an individual's life. A comprehensive conversion experience changes one's self-image. This transformation, which is a process taking longer than just one day or one week, is reflected in the most important indicator of conversion: biographical reconstruction. People who undergo a conversion experience literally reconstruct their lives, giving new meanings to old events and putting different emphases in the bigger “plot” of their life stories. Most conversion narratives are variations on a theme: one has to go through hell in order to get to heaven.

Keywords: conversion narratives; Pentecostalism; conversion experience; biographical reconstruction

Chapter.  9440 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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