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William and Robert Menzies: Spirit and Power, Empowered for Witness, and The Development Of Early Christian Pneumatology

 

A triple review of books by Robert Menzies and his father William, essay by Grant Hochman.

Robert P. Menzies, The Development Of Early Christian Pneumatology: with special reference to Luke-Acts (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991).

Robert P. Menzies, Empowered for Witness: The Spirit in Luke-Acts. Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series #6 (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), 290 pages.

William W. and Robert P. Menzies, Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 233 pages.

A quiet revolution has been taking place around the world. There are now over 530 million Pentecostal/charismatic Christians (David Barrett, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Jan/01). It was the church growth movement which first brought this explosive growth to the attention of Christian leaders. The focus on what they termed the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” based on Luke and Acts, was the driving force behind it, and secondarily, the emphasis on spiritual gifts as found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (Chs. 12-14). From a mere trickle of scholarly research, the last thirty years has seen a river of literature on this topic (see Charles E. Jones, where one finds over 11,000 entries in The Charismatic Movement, Scarecrow Press, 1994). This change has been underscored by the founding of the Journal of Pentecostal Theology in 1992 and published by the prestigious Sheffield Academic Press, in England.

The 2005 cover from Bloomsbury T&T Clark.

Even though they are relative newcomers, classical Pentecostal scholars have been major contributors to the scholarly dialogue. One individual stands out above the others both in quantity and quality: Dr. Robert Menzies. After publishing a series of articles and book reviews, his first book to be published was his doctoral dissertation: The Development Of Early Christian Pneumatology: with special reference to Luke-Acts, from Sheffield Academic Press, 1991. This work caught the attention of two of the most prominent world-class evangelical scholars on Luke-Acts, James Dunn and Max Turner. Dunn writes “Pentecostal biblical scholarship has become increasingly a factor to be reckoned with, as its contributions have grown in confidence and weight…So far none commands more respect than the Aberdeen thesis of Robert Menzies.” Dunn closes by saying, “this is a work of significant and substantial scholarship whose strengths cannot be done full justice to in a brief review,” (Evangelical Quarterly, 66:2, 1994, pp. 174-6). Max Turner pays tribute to Menzies in his book, Power From On High: The Spirit in Israel’s Restoration and Witness in Luke-Acts. Sheffield Academic Press, 2000. In the preface Turner writes about Menzies, “His rigorous and perceptive case caused me to reconsider the evidence,” (p.11). This in turn, resulted in Turner publishing a series of articles and then his book (listed above). While both Dunn and Turner take issue with certain areas of Menzies work, they pay tribute to his efforts.

 

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2002

About the Author: Grant Hochman, a teacher with the Surrey School District in B.C. Canada, wrote his Master of Christian Studies thesis (Regent College, 1992) on “A Christian Response to the Cults: An Aid for the Lay Person.” He gives guest lectures and Sunday school courses on cult apologetics as well as on every member ministry (Eph. 4:11-16).

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