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Laurie Guy: Introducing Early Christianity


Guy’s insightful account of women’s ambiguous roles in the early Church certainly seems apropos for contemporary Pentecostalism (cf. Acts 2:17-18). According to Guy, after the arguably “radical and women-affirming ministry of Jesus” the Church soon compromised with “pervasive cultural attitudes” consequently seriously limiting women’s roles. In this case, the Church tragically lost the healthy tension between the gospel and society. Is Pentecostalism following this same path? Early on in its existence modern Pentecostalism was unabashedly influenced by prominent women in ministry. That Spirit-anointed egalitarianism dramatically declined as the movement sought and achieved a measure of cultural acceptance and respect. Oddly enough, in the twenty-first century, the general society and many churches are now advocating affirmation of females in unlimited roles; but some segments of Pentecostalism are offering resolute resistance. Will Pentecostalism recover its roots? Will it cave into culture? The issue of women in ministry may represent a case study in Pentecostalism’s ability to adapt and apply biblical and historical faith and values to complex and difficult contemporary issues.

Introducing Early Christianity, by Laurie Guy, is an informative and relevant study. It is well written, and engages several significant issues. As an introductory survey it does not claim to be exhaustive. Some topics are not covered, or barely covered. For examples, one will not find chapters on economics or pacifism. Yet overall, it is a fine overview and should be a welcome addition to any history library.

Reviewed by Tony Richie


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Category: Church History, Fall 2009

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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