Structural Violence against Women in the Pentecostal Movement: Proposals for a South African Deconstruction Strategy

Keywords: Women in ministry, structural discrimination, pacifism, nonpacifism, Pentecostal


The phenomenon of discrimination against women within Pentecostal churches in terms of ministry and leadership is investigated to propose a strategy for deconstructing such structural violence. The violence is described in terms of a case study, the history of a prominent South African Pentecostal denomination (Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa) that initially recognised the involvement of women in all forms of ministry; subsequently in the 1940s refusing their ministry as preachers and pastors, and eventually at the end of the 1970s offering them the same ministerial privileges as for males. Their recognition is, however, characterised by a practical non-application of a church order that in effect represents the commitment of violence against women. It is argued that the change in perspectives of women’s ministry and leadership is hermeneutical in nature. To deconstruct it would need revisiting Pentecostalism’s original hermeneutic as well as restoring its restorationist urge of egalitarianism and inclusiveness.

Author Biography

Marius Nel, Research Unit of the Faculty of Theology, North-West University

Research professor, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa