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Ritual healing: Religion or magic?

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Chapter Summary

The blessing and the use of ritual substances are common practices in Ephphata. The blessing of sacramentals is based on the belief that the words and gestures of a priest, acting in the name of Jesus Christ, have the power to transform ordinary substances into sacred efficacious objects. Within Ephphata sacramentals are so much credited with healing powers that together with prayers and faith they constitute the main weapons against evil forces. This chapter considers the dualist cosmological framework of blessing formulae before discussing the related problem of the demarcation of religion from magic with some focus on Webers concept of religious rationalization as disenchantment. It suggests that the resurgence of a ritual-oriented Pentecostalism from within Protestantism shows that this rationalization is not irreversible. The chapter concludes with a few observations on the scope of the domestication of Pentecostal features within Catholicism.

Keywords: Ephphata; healing powers; magic; Pentecostalism; Protestantism; religion; ritual substances; sacramentals; Weber



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