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The Many Faces of Global Pentecostalism

Harold D. Hunter and Neil Ormerod, eds. The Many Faces of Global Pentecostalism (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2013).

There are two things every Pentecostal, and everyone interested in Pentecostalism, should learn from the outset: (1) Pentecostalism is global, and (2) the global Pentecostal movement has many faces. These two aspects form the premise for the present volume edited by Hunter and Ormerod, a collection of 15 papers produced at an ecumenical meeting hosted by the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies in 2012. The volume speaks critically to the often narrow definition of global Pentecostalism and joins those who instead speak of “many origins” (Allan Anderson), “many tongues” (Amos Yong), and “many contexts” (Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen) to highlight the geographical, historical, theological, and sociocultural diversity of Pentecostal voices.

The volume consists of three sections: the first offers “Global Voices from Oxford” consisting of three prominent professors (Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, Paul S. Fiddes, and Wonsuk Ma); the second joins voices from “The Global South” including Connie Au (China), Yohanna Katanacho (Palestine), Elizabeth Salazar-Sanzana (Chile), Augustine Luvis-Núñez (Puerto Rico), J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu (Ghana), Philippe Quédraogo (Burkina Faso), Clifton Clarke (Great Britain), and Olga Zaptometova (Russia). In the third section, authors from “The Global North” examine significant opportunities and concerns for different Pentecostal communities, including Latina/o Pentecostals (Daniel Ramírez), Australian Pentecostals (Mark Hutchinson), Anglican-Pentecostal relations (David Hilborn), and Canadian Pentecostals (Pamela S. Homes).

The editors themselves have wide experience in the global diversity of the Pentecostal movement(s). Hunter actively engages in ecumenical activities with the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and Eastern Orthodox Churches. As director of the archives and research center of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC), he has occupied executive denominational and teaching positions. Ormerod, professor of theology at Australian Catholic University, has written on Pentecostalism and is involved in various capacities with Australian Pentecostals. A brief preface by the editors, and a short introduction by Hunter suggesting that “Global Pentecostals are not ‘Protestants’ and are not ‘western’” sets the tone for the subsequent essays.

The collection is coherent in themes, with each chapter focusing on a different context, while also addressing specific themes within those contexts. The result is not necessarily an introduction to global Pentecostalism but a snapshot of the diversity of Pentecostalism worldwide, including the difficulty to speak of Pentecostalism as a whole. In this sense, a difficulty of the collection lies precisely in this aspect to help the reader understand how to approach the different sections and contexts. The editor’s preface summarizes the chapters yet offers no guidelines for reading; the introduction highlights select themes of Pentecostal theology, albeit without establishing clear links to the present collection. A similar difficulty exists with the initial “global” perspectives on Pentecostalism in section one, which do not speak directly to each other nor engage the subsequent sections. Finally, the division of chief sections into “global South” and “global North” perpetuates divisions that, although factual, are counterproductive to the overall argument of the book by suggesting that there are, in fact, “two faces” rather than “many faces” of Pentecostalism.

This collection is a good start for Pentecostal ministers and observers to learn about the movement, the difficulties of its characterization and categorization. The essays initiate the reader into the diversity of Pentecostal voices, the chapters are brief and make for quick reading and reflection, and footnotes show a variety of international sources, typically in English. The text would serve well as an introductory reading for undergraduate students, perhaps paired with the Cambridge Companion to Pentecostalism (edited by Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. and Amos Yong), the standard Introduction to Pentecostalism (Allan Anderson), and the theologically oriented introduction, Pentecostalism in the Guide for the Perplexed Series (Wolfgang Vondey). Together, these sources suggest that the development of Pentecostalism worldwide signals the development of global Christianity in the twenty-first century. In response, Pentecostals would do well to reflect this global diversity also in their local contexts. When the local and the global meet, only then we can truly speak of Pentecostalism as the many faces of a worldwide movement.

Reviewed by Wolfgang Vondey


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Category: Fall 2015, In Depth

About the Author: Wolfgang Vondey, Ph.D. (Marquette University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), is Professor of Christian Theology and Pentecostal Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. He is an ordained minister with the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). His research focuses on ecclesiology, pneumatology, theological method, and the intersection of theology and science.

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