Problematizing Confession and Forgiveness in Prophetic Pentecostal Christianity A Case Study of Rabboni Centre Ministries

Main Article Content

Maria Frahm-Arp https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5608-5718

Keywords

Confession, forgiveness, Pentecostalism, Africa, prophets, Rabboni

Abstract

During COVID lockdown the practice of confession was one of the aspects of the services at Rabboni Centre Ministries, a Prophetic Pentecostal Church, which changed significantly. People had to write their confessions and e-mail them to the church. These were then read out in the middle of various week-day services by a pastor who assured people that the Prophet and God forgave them. The Prophet and founder, Lesego Daniel proclaimed in January 2022 that people can only be set free through this public form of confession, thus making confession far more important in the church than it has ever been. Using discourse analysis this article examines the theological understanding of confessions expressed by followers in early 2023 and finds that they believed that their forgiveness was primarily dependent on the grace of the Prophet. Only some people believed that forgiveness from God was also necessary. Jesus Christ was not mentioned in any of the confessions and was not understood as the one who saves believers from sin and God’s judgment. Confession and forgiveness were understood to be the central mechanism that allowed people to be restored to the Rabboni community and the Prophet. Using Bourdieu’s notions of habitus, dispositions, and symbolic violence as a theoretical lens, this article argues that the church has established its own habitus in which the symbolic violence of dependence on the Prophet for forgiveness is understood as part of the disposition and power dynamics within the habitus of the church. By using this theoretical lens, the article aims to answer the question why believers conform to the teaching of the Prophet which makes them so dependent on him.

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