University Professor Authors In Defense of Charisma

Jack Birle Staff Reporter

In his new book, associate Theology and Religious Studies Professor Vincent W. Lloyd, Ph.D., writes about how charisma has been used in different ways over time.

Entitled “In Defense of Charisma,” Lloyd writes about the various ways that charisma has been used in modern culture to influence politics, ethics and religion. 

He identifies two types of charisma specifically, in the book: authoritarian charisma and democratic charisma.

Authoritarian charisma as a type of charisma is abusive and used to gain power, whereas democratic charisma empowers the general public. 

Lloyd discusses charisma by saying, “We defer to one who possesses the extraordinary gifts that entail charisma.” He adds, “Authoritarian charisma uses this deference to its own advantage, modeling the desires of followers to advance the self-interest of the charismatic.”

In the book, Lloyd examines how different leaders can use charisma to get their points across. 

According to Lloyd, charisma can be abused by dictators or ruthless leaders like Adolf Hitler. Charisma can be used to spread messages of better intent, such as from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Lloyd also describes how charisma can be used in different ways. Lloyd asks, “Is charisma a tool of oppression, or can it help the fight against oppression?” He further questions, “Can reexamining the concept of charisma teach us anything useful about contemporary movements for social justice?”

Lloyd has previously written “The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology and Black Natural Law.” Lloyd also was the co-editor of “Race and Secularism in America” and the academic journal “Political Theology.”