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James Goff and Grant Wacker: Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders


James R. Goff Jr. and Grant Wacker, eds., Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2002), 430 pages.

The introduction to this book tells us that no real compelling interest existed in the 20 people whose lives are described therein for the first 50 years of the 20th Century. These were people who had lived in the late 19th and early 20th Century and were on their way to being forgotten—they did not matter anymore, and may never have truly mattered until the church began to grow and grow world wide in the last half of the 20th Century.

As most of you know, all kinds of interest and publication has followed this explosive growth. Why has it happened? Who started it and where and how? There has been much study on the more prominent leaders who became intertwined by what happened at Azusa Street in Los Angeles. However, until this book, many have remained unknown to most of Christendom. You might have heard of some of the people who are included in this book, but I doubt that you know them all. I did not know them all, and I have been a student of our movement for 40 years.

“You might have heard of some of the people who are included in this book, but I doubt that you know them all.”

Our editors assembled some excellent scholars and writers to each do the chapter covering one of the pioneers that were chosen. The editors also divided the book into three parts: Forerunners, Visionaries and Builders. The personalities included are Alexander Dowie, E. I Harvey, Charles Price Jones, Frank Sandford. Alma White, Minnie F. Abrams, Frank Bartleman, William H. Durham, Thomas Hampton Gourley, Alice E. Luce, Francisco Olazabal, Maria B. Woodworth-Etter, Florence Crawford, G. T. Haywood, Charles Harrison Mason, Carrie Judd Montgomery, Antonio Castaneda Nava, Ida B. Robinson, George Floyd Taylor and A. J. Tomlinson.

Contributors to this volume include many well-known Pentecostal/charismatic historians including Edith Blumhofer, Cecil M. Roebuck, Vinson Synan, and Gary McGee.

I learned much and I met some new personalities that I did not know. Portraits of a Generation is an excellent reference book that is written well and in an enjoyable style.

Reviewed by H. Murray Hohns


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Category: Church History, Summer 2004

About the Author: H. Murray Hohns went home to be with Jesus on November 28, 2012. He was on staff at the largest church in Hawaii and served on his denomination's investment committee from 1999 until his death. Hohns held two degrees in Civil Engineering, an MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary, and served as an instructor at Foursquare's New Hope Christian College (formerly Pacific Rim Christian College) in Honolulu. He wrote six engineering books and hundreds of articles in every type of newspaper, magazine and journal.

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