Original Research

Lament: An integral element of Pentecostal worship

Marius Nel
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2991 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2991 | © 2023 Marius Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 June 2023 | Published: 03 November 2023

About the author(s)

Marius Nel, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the SA Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Abstract

Pentecostals’ songs of exuberant praise are integral to Pentecostal worship, ending in worship songs. Joy and happiness characterise their services. However, these worship practices do not leave room for discounting the reality that suffering is recurring in all believers’ lives, ignoring those who suffer marginalising in worship practices. The research questions were: Why do some Pentecostals miss a valid response to the reality of suffering? What does the Bible teach about the constant occurrence of suffering as integral to human life?; What is a suitable theological response to it?; How can Pentecostal worship incorporate lament as a response to suffering? In answering these questions, the research used the Lekgotla practical theology research method proposed by Abraham Mzondi as an explorative approach, related to Richard Osmer’s method. It asked four questions: What is happening?; What could have caused the challenge?; What is the recommended approach to resolve the situation?; and What is the theologically and biblically sound recommended process to remedy it? It is based on relevant available literature related to the classical Pentecostal movement. The research concluded that pervasive triumphalism, based on a persistent ‘victorious living’ mentality, avoids voicing suffering, while lament does not market well. The Pentecostal theology of glory needs to be corrected by the theology of the cross by accommodating the challenges theodicy presents to believers in the hegemonic doxology. A theology of the cross realises that human life oscillates between triumph and lament, and Pentecostal worship should reflect it. Lament is believers’ liturgical response to suffering and engaging God within this context. Suggestions to incorporate lament in Pentecostal worship include deliberate songwriting and testimonies about suffering and its consequences.

Contribution: The research addressed the lack of balanced worship practices among Pentecostals who emphasise praising God without discounting the existential suffering some attendees at worship services experience. It contributed to the journal’s focus on biblical-theological research with the reformational tradition and its impact on Pentecostalism.


Keywords

Pentecostal; worship; lament; suffering; triumphalism; protest; revenge

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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