Belief, Deconversion, and Authenticity among U.S. Emerging Evangelicals
Article first published online: 10 AUG 2012
© 2012 by the American Anthropological Association.
Special Issue: The Dynamics of Belief and Experience: Cultural and Psychological Responses across Religious Traditions
Volume 40, Issue 3, pages 258–276, September 2012
How to Cite
Bielo, J. S. (2012), Belief, Deconversion, and Authenticity among U.S. Emerging Evangelicals. Ethos, 40: 258–276. doi: 10.1111/j.1548-1352.2012.01257.x
- Issue published online: 10 AUG 2012
- Article first published online: 10 AUG 2012
- United States
In this article I examine the status of belief among U.S. evangelicals organizing under the moniker of the “emerging church.” As part of their cultural critique of the conservative Christian subculture, many emerging evangelicals recast their standpoint toward the role of propositional doctrine in their definition of an authentic Christian self. I join with colleagues in the anthropology of religion, in particular the anthropology of Christianity, who are rethinking the nature of belief as a form of relational commitment. I argue that emerging evangelicals seek a faith where human–human relationships are a precondition for human–divine relations to flourish. To achieve their desired sense of community emerging evangelicals create ritual structures that foster a highly relational religiosity. I illustrate this recasting of belief through analyses of narrative and institution making, grounded in three years of ethnographic fieldwork.