Christian Circulations: Global Christianity and the Local Church in Penang and Singapore, 1819-2000
by Jean DeBernardi
In postcolonial Singapore and Malaysia, Pentecostal megachurches dominate the Christian landscape, but the "big four" Protestant churches—Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Brethren—remain religions of heritage for many. Sixty Malaysian and nineteen Singaporean assemblies identify themselves as Christian Brethren, and most trace their roots to independent local churches formed in Penang and Singapore in the 1860s. After World War II, the Brethren promoted new forms of evangelical practice, and former Brethren elders founded independent churches, from charismatic local churches to Pentecostal megachurches.
This study is a transregional history of the Brethren movement and its emplacement in Singapore and Malaysia, but is also a history of discontinuous continuities that have shaped the modern field of religious practice in China and Southeast Asia.
“This work fills a major lacuna in the history of Asian Christianity. It debunks stereotypical views and demonstrates the far-reaching impact of Brethrenism on popular Christianity, especially Pentecostalism. Future studies of global Christianity will have to take serious cognizance of this meticulously researched book.”
- Simon Chan, editor, Asia Journal of Theology
Jean DeBernardi is professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta who has done extensive ethnographic and archival research focusing on Singapore, Penang, and two UNESCO World Heritage sites in China, Wudang Mountain, a popular pilgrimage site for Southeast Asian Daoists, and Wuyi Mountain, a famous tea-growing area in Northern Fujian.
Publication year: 2020
472 pp / 229 x 152 mm / 40 b/w images, 5 b/w map