Religion as play: Pentecostalism as a theological type

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This article suggests that Pentecostalism constitutes a genuine type of religion we can label as play. In order to identify the particular elements of this type, the article makes use of Erving Goffman’s frame analysis to organize Pentecostal theological activity. This methodological starting point is followed by an overview of existing interpretations of Pentecostalism as a form of play. The main portion of this essay then constructs from an analysis of everyday experiences visible in Pentecostalism a primary framework of activities oriented around the transformative encounter with the Holy Spirit. The sequence of activity involves a primary and overlapping pattern of Pentecostal spirituality, experience, narrative, affections, practices, and embodiment. Demonstrating that play is not exclusive to Pentecostalism, but that Pentecostals manifest a particularly visible form, demands that greater attention is paid both to Pentecostalism as a religious tradition and to play as a theological model.
Original languageEnglish
Article number80
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2018


  • Pentecostalism
  • play
  • theology
  • frame analysis
  • typology


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