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Grant Wacker: Heaven Below

 

There is one curiosity about this otherwise excellent book; one senses at times that Wacker, given his background as an ex-Pentecostal who yet feels kinship with Pentecostals (ix-x), runs away from evaluation of and interaction with the cardinal doctrine that defined early Pentecostalism. Wacker insists that this is because his is a cultural history, and not a doctrinal history, listening “less to formal theological debates and more to the conversations that took place around the kitchen table.” (p.9) Granted, such an approach opens the door to examining life as it was lived, which helps to understand why Pentecostalism survived when other radical Evangelical movements (like John Alexander Dowie’s Zion Illinois community) did not. But without the theological background, the effect is at times like sitting in a car, marveling at it’s ability to move while studiously never engaging the engine and doing so.

However, let the reader be indulgent, the reward for doing so is great. As Pentecostalism enters its second century, perhaps the best way to celebrate the past is to read this book and be encouraged. The church faces change with each generation. For with each change the Spirit whispers the words of Christ, “Be not afraid little flock; it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We have an example set down in print in Heaven Below; let’s get to it.

Reviewed by Steven J. Brooks

 

Publisher’s page: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674011281

 

Preview Heaven Below: http://books.google.com/books/about/Heaven_Below.html?id=BtWSkPO4y48C

 

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Category: Church History, Fall 2002

About the Author: Steven J. Brooks, MA, MDiv (Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, MN), is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Veritas Academy. He has worked cross-culturally and cross-generationally as a pastor, chaplain and adjunct instructor at several Twin Cities colleges and leads the creation of Veritas Chapel, committed to the belief that a robust faith challenges the soul, the intellect and the emotions through study of the Word to produce fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.

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