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Michael Yount: A. B. Simpson

Yount provides his readers an understanding of the historical and theological context of A. B. Simpson.

While this book’s merits are many, I would suggest that its greatest quality is the exemplary job that Yount has done in providing for his readers an understanding of the historical and theological context of Simpson, the early Christian and Missionary Alliance, and each of these historic emphases. In addition, through the deft use of anecdotes and the careful tracing of the connections of various ideas, persons, and movements, Yount shows how past successes that might otherwise be considered to be beyond the realm of present possibility may actually remain within reach of the contemporary Church. These, alone, make the book a more than worthwhile investment.

In spite of this book’s valuable, and perhaps even invaluable, contributions to an understanding of the contributions of A. B. Simpson to the shape of turn-of-the-century Evangelicalism, I would have liked to have seen Yount spend more time establishing the argument for the existence of an entity known as the “Third Great Awakening.” I am not convinced that it as readily recognized as a definable movement as this text assumes. While the various events that Yount identifies (e. g. the Laymen’s Revival, the Holiness Movement, and the missions movement) were highly significant, and while they certainly relate in some way to one another, it is less clear that they coalesce into a single movement. In addition, while each chapter clearly shows both that Simpson was a participant in each of these various movements and that he so ably stirred his followers to engage in them, not all chapters show equally or as ably Simpson’s actual contribution to each particular movement. For example, while no one would argue that Simpson was a dedicated evangelist, the chapter dedicated to that topic gives barely two pages to his efforts in this area. Furthermore, his “impact” on this particular movement is wholly absent. Finally, this book is in need of a good editing to address numerous typographical errors which, at times, lead to misinformation. These include the inaccurate dating of Simpson’s death, twice, with a different incorrect date given each time (p. xvii & 40.)

In spite of these relatively minor difficulties, there remains much to commend about this work. Those who read it carefully will come away both with a better understanding of the theology and practice of Albert Benjamin Simpson and, more important, with the possibility of a renewed vision for life and ministry.

Reviewed by Bernie Van De Walle

 

Publisher’s page: http://wipfandstock.com/a-b-simpson.html

Preview: https://books.google.com/books?id=xwJoDQAAQBAJ

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Category: Church History, Spring 2017

About the Author: Bernie A. Van De Walle, Ph.D. (Drew University), is Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology and theology program convener at Ambrose University College in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is the author of The Heart of the Gospel: A. B. Simpson, the Fourfold Gospel, and Late Nineteenth-Century Evangelical Theology (2009), Rethinking Holiness: A Theological Introduction (2017), and contributor to other works including The Spirit Renews the Face of the Earth: Pentecostal Forays in Science and Theology of Creation (2009), Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2011), and The Holy River of God: Currents and Contributions of the Wesleyan Holiness Stream of Christianity (2016). He has served as the President of the Christian Theological Research Fellowship and sits on the Steering Committee of the Wesleyan Holiness Connection. Amazon Author page

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