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Richard Bustraan: The Jesus People Movement

I also found the three sections entitled “The Dominant Three-Wave Paradigm and Taxonomy”, “Three Problems with the Three Waves” and “Problems with Barrett’s Third Wave” located within chapter six especially intriguing. The author criticizes the typical Three Wave model suggested by C. Peter Wagner and David Barrett, and adopted by most Pentecostal historians, namely Margaret Poloma and Vinson Synan (202). He believes this Three Wave Model is what has caused these historians along with others to almost completely ignore the Jesus People Movement or to devote merely a few sentences within the major historical works on American Pentecostalism. He concludes that not only does the Jesus People Movement struggle to find a place under this schema, but it also raises questions about other major people and movements that emerged out of American Pentecostalism (206). I applaud Bustraan for his well-articulated critique and hope for historians to enter into dialogue around this topic in the future.

With these strengths in mind, the only weakness I found in this work was the lack of a developed resolution to the “Third Wave” issue. The author does remarkably well raising objections to the typical model, but does not give a developed, alternative model. Although he makes a few, brief suggestions on ways to resolve the issue of finding the Jesus People within Barrett’s paradigm (207), he does not progress to proposing an alternative paradigm for future research. His critique of the three-wave paradigm was convincing, but his underdeveloped conclusion left me wanting more.

In sum, the author’s stated goal was to examine the Pentecostal and Charismatic nature of the Jesus People Movement while being “sympathetic to the testimony of the Jesus People, while not becoming a cheerleader for all their claimed experiences” (ix). In my estimation, the author fulfills his goal well by contributing a concise, yet thorough, unbiased account of the Jesus People Movement situated within the broader historiography of American Pentecostalism. I highly recommend this book for it indeed breaks new ground in the history of the Pentecostal movement by including and expounding upon an important twentieth-century American story.

Reviewed by Andrew Williams


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Category: Church History, Spring 2015

About the Author: Andrew Ray Williams is a Ph.D. candidate in Pentecostal theology at Bangor University (Wales, UK) and an ordained Foursquare pastor. Prior to graduate work, he graduated summa cum laude both from Regent University’s School of Divinity (MTS) and The King’s University (BTS). His research interests are Pentecostal ecotheology and Pentecostal sacramental theology. You can follow him on twitter @andrewraywill

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