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Allan Anderson: An Introduction to Pentecostalism


Anderson also contends that the writing of Pentecostal history has been one-sided, coming mainly from Westerners. He complains that missionary biographies and newsletters tell only one side of the story, that of the missionary. He states that the work of nationals is seldom given its due in these writings and issues a call for the rest of the world to pick up their pens and write their own stories, thus providing a much needed corrective to Pentecostal historiography. While his complaint is legitimate, he does not appear acknowledge the fact that missionary newsletters are written as they are because the missionary (this reviewer is one) feels the need to report on their work to the home constituency and time and space do not permit telling the whole story. Neither are they intended to be historical documents. He also complains that missionary newsletters often reflect racist attitudes and cites several examples. While this is undoubtedly true, I believe he overstates the case. He feels that terms such as “native” or “national” are pejorative (an opinion not shared by this reviewer) and seems to read the newsletters through his own lenses, not recognizing that no pejorative intent may have been intended, and the missionary may have simply used terms common to their day. In doing this he fails to recognize that terms change their meaning over the years and what may be considered pejorative today may not have been so in the time of the newsletter’s writing.

The second half of the book details the pertinent theological and sociological issues relevant to Pentecostalism. He reflects the traditional theological themes of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, mission, evangelism, and eschatology. While his treatment of these issues is certainly adequate, he doesn’t say anything new. I get the impression that Anderson is more at home with historiography than theology.

In his chapter on “The Bible and the ‘full gospel,’” he stresses that Pentecostal hermeneutics is borne from an emphasis on the experiential, and his point is legitimate. In dealing with education and ecumenism, he gives excellent treatment to the tension that Pentecostals have had in these areas. In looking at Pentecostals and Charismatics in society, he notes that through the power of the Spirit, the poor, marginalized and dispossessed are empowered. He accurately notes that Pentecostals “with their offer of full participation to all regardless of race, class or gender, effected what amounted to a democratization of Christianity, a protest against the status quo.” I was challenged to do more study in this area. He concludes the book on the positive note that the Pentecostal movement shows no sign of slowing down.

In conclusion, this is an outstanding book that I thoroughly enjoying reading. I believe that it provides a wonderful introduction to Pentecostalism, and all serious students of this particular arm of Christianity are encouraged to read it.

Reviewed by Dave Johnson


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Category: Church History, Fall 2006

About the Author: Dave Johnson, M.Div., D.Miss. (Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines), is an Assemblies of God missionary to the Philippines. Dave and his wife Debbie have been involved in evangelism, church planting, and Bible school and mission leadership. Dave is the Managing Editor of Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, the director of APTS Press in Baguio City, Philippines and coordinator for the Asian Pentecostal Theological Seminary's Master of Theology Program. Facebook Twitter

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