Choosing the Jesus Way

American Indian Pentecostals and the Fight for the Indigenous Principle

By Angela Tarango

234 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 9 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1292-8
    Published: April 2014
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-1293-5
    Published: April 2014

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Awards & distinctions

2015 PNEUMA Book Award, Society of Pentecostal Studies

Choosing the Jesus Way uncovers the history and religious experiences of the first American Indian converts to Pentecostalism. Focusing on the Assemblies of God denomination, the story begins in 1918, when white missionaries fanned out from the South and Midwest to convert Native Americans in the West and other parts of the country. Drawing on new approaches to the global history of Pentecostalism, Angela Tarango shows how converted indigenous leaders eventually transformed a standard Pentecostal theology of missions in ways that reflected their own religious struggles and advanced their sovereignty within the denomination.

Key to the story is the Pentecostal "indigenous principle," which encourages missionaries to train local leadership in hopes of creating an indigenous church rooted in the culture of the missionized. In Tarango's analysis, the indigenous principle itself was appropriated by the first generation of Native American Pentecostals, who transformed it to critique aspects of the missionary project and to argue for greater religious autonomy. More broadly, Tarango scrutinizes simplistic views of religious imperialism and demonstrates how religious forms and practices are often mutually influenced in the American experience.

About the Author

Angela Tarango is assistant professor of religion at Trinity University.
For more information about Angela Tarango, visit the Author Page.


β€œThis book is an outstanding contribution to understanding how American Indians have transformed and been transformed by the Christian faith.”--Choice

β€œA truly important and insightful contribution to the literature."--American Historical Review

"An excellent contribution to the small body of literature that highlights Pentecostal missions among American Indians."--Religious Studies Review

β€œA pathbreaking study of home mission efforts by the largest predominantly white Pentecostal denomination in the United States.”--The Journal of American History

β€œA great addition to both academic and ecclesial bookshelves.”--Sociology of Religion

β€œAn immensely enjoyable read.”--The Journal of Southern History