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Eddie Hyatt: 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity

Eddie L. Hyatt, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity: A 21st Century Look at Church History from a Pentecostal/Charismatic Perspective (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2002), 225 pages, ISBN 9780884198727.

Have you ever been told that the charismatic movement is new and therefore theologically suspicious? Do not believe such rumors because they are not true, as this book clearly demonstrates. Actually, there may not be another book available today that presents such a continuity of the ministry of the Holy Spirit throughout church history. This book handily debunks the old claim that Pentecostal/charismatics are the new kids on the theological block.

This readable history of the charismata offers convincing evidence that Pentecostal/charismatics stand in a long tradition of God’s supernatural power in His people. From the book of Acts, to the time of persecution under the Roman emperors, to the suppression of the charismata with the institutionalization of the church, to the preservation of those gifts among some ecclesiastical orders and movements outside the institutional church, to the rediscovery of the gifts by the Great Reformation, to the Wesleys and the holiness movements that followed them, to the 20th Century Pentecostal and charismatic movements—Hyatt summarizes the history of the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit among God’s people.

As a student of Pentecostal/charismatic history, the most significant highlights for me were: the succinct way in which the institutionalizing of the church under Constantine was presented as the quencher of the gifts; the explanation of the Anabaptists and Mennonites in contrast to the excessive movements that started from the same Radical Reformation; and a more thorough look at the real nature of Charles Parham’s ministry and its impact on the early Pentecostal movement. Two things I would have liked to have seen would be, first, a summary of some of the great research Dr. Jack Deere on the charismatic nature of the Great Reformation (see especially Surprised by the Voice of God from Zondervan, 1998). Dr. Deere makes quite a case for how any history of the supernatural has been suppressed by anti-charismatic religious leaders (Unfortunately, Hyatt seems to make the same mistake as many classical Pentecostals in equating Calvinism with cessationism [see page 112]. Of course, charismatic Calvinists would object to this assertion). Secondly, the locations of historical events and people seemed to move further and further west throughout the chronology. Although this is an excellent beginning, I also long to see a history of Eastern and global Christianity from a Pentecostal/charismatic perspective.

Looking forward, Hyatt tells us the lessons we stand to learn, “History would inform us that the key for the church in the twenty-first century is not to be found in outward form and structure. Both the New Testament and church history indicate that the key for the church is to be found in an inner attitude of faith in Christ and an openness to the wind of the Spirit that blows, not where He must, but where He wills” (p. 191).

I highly recommend this introduction to the undeniable history of the gifts and ministry of the Holy Spirit through all of church history.

Reviewed by Raul L. Mock

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Category: Church History, Fall 2003

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996, working with Information Services and Supply Chain Management for more than two decades. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. LinkedIn

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