Transformation of Evangelicalism: the Ukrainian case

Liutkevicius, Eugenijus (2020). Transformation of Evangelicalism: the Ukrainian case. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This dissertation focuses on the development of Ukrainian evangelical movement after the dissolution of the USSR. Based on ethnographic fieldwork it examines the reasons for the rapid transformation of Ukrainian evangelical Christians, which occurred from the end of 1980s. The dissertation investigates the specificity of the context of post-Soviet evangelicalism in Ukraine: how a particular conservative tradition, which was valued and preserved during the Soviet regime and which secured the evangelicals’ survival during that period,subsequently came under increasing pressure from a new, open style evangelicals.

In the dissertation I propose four main reasons for the transformation. Firstly, there is the absence of a national church in Ukraine. This means that there is no national religious authority to make alliances with the ruling elite and thereby relegate religious minorities to outsider status. As a consequence, Ukrainian evangelicals are more empowered and more active, visible and audible in society than their colleagues in other former Soviet countries. Secondly, I argue that the particular Ukrainian political context has made it necessary for the previously apolitical evangelicals to take an active political stand. A third factor, which has stimulated rapid changes in Ukrainian evangelical movement, is the fact that many newly converted believers are joining the evangelical communities. This is mainly due to the engagement of evangelical Christians in different kinds of evangelisation projects, among the most visible and effective of them - charitable and social services. The new converts do not focus on adopting local evangelical traditions but are more concerned with their role in society at large. The fourth theme explored in the dissertation is that both individual believers and evangelical institutions in Ukraine became increasingly involved in the movement of global mission after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This engagement highly contributed to the changes in Ukrainian evangelical movement. All four main reasons mentioned above are explored, and analysed in the dissertation.

Additionally, I proposed a theoretical contribution by examining evangelicals’ perceptions of the surrounding world, which helps to highlight the close relation between the interpretation of biblical texts and the perception of the surrounding reality of those who are practicing evangelical Christians. I show how social transformation among Ukrainian evangelicals is connected with religious transformation. Thus, the evangelicals are seen to choose new interpretations of the Bible because the old ‘Soviet-era’ ones no longer work for them.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of International Development
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)


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