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William De Arteaga: Forgotten Power

 

William L. De Arteaga, Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 287 pages.

This is an important book for Pentecostal and charismatic readers. De Arteaga, a former Roman Catholic who became a Pentecostal over thirty years ago, has drawn from the wealth of his experiences in both traditions to present a well-written and convincing presentation of the need to reintegrate sacramental worship and charismatic spirituality. His chief concern in the book is to restore the importance of the Lord’s Supper in the worship of the church, though his insights can be applied to other types of sacramental ordinances according to one’s tradition.

De Arteaga affirms that sacramental worship and charismatic spirituality are not antithetical. True and long lasting revival must be a three-dimensional and integrated experience represented by the preaching of the Word, the presence of sacraments during worship, and the presence of the gifts of the Spirit.

In the twentieth century the inclusion of the Lord’s Supper in the worship of the church has been greatly diminished. Today we see either a sacramental worship without revival (Roman Catholicism), or revival without sacramental worship (Evangelical/Charismatic). In light of these glaring deficiencies, De Arteaga presents a historical retrospective of the important place that the Lord’s Supper once held within the Reformed and Wesleyan traditions.

Father Bill De Arteaga is a regular contributor to PneumaReview.com.

This story begins with the Puritans and Scot-Irish Presbyterians who, influenced by the Eucharistic theologies of the Reformers, found a prominent place for the Lord’s Supper within their worship. In these movements the celebration of the Supper, whether viewed as a sacrament to strengthen the faith of believers or as a converting ordinance, was a catalyst to revival. Those same sacramental traditions were carried over to North America producing some of the most intense and profound revivals in American religious history.

The Lord’s Supper came to lose its centrality in the Reformed Tradition due to the opposition of those who objected to its use as a converting ordinance. It soon became relegated to a quarterly sacrament and no longer produced the powerful conversions and commitment once seen the past.

The Supper played a central role in the revival and renewal of faith in the Wesleyan movement. Influenced by their Anglican background and Moravian contacts, John and Charles Wesley understood the Supper and accompanying love feasts as measures of renewing the faith of believers and bringing in new converts into the church.

Over time, as the Methodist church became detached from its Anglican roots in the United States, its focus remained preaching the gospel to the poor and those in need, but the Supper faded into the background. Later evangelists influenced by the Wesleyan tradition such as Charles Finney and others placed more emphasis on conversions, leading to what is commonly known as the “sacrament of the altar,” which viewed public confessions of faith as central to a convert’s salvation. While recognizing the tremendous success that modern evangelists such as Rinehard Bonnke and Billy Graham have seen in producing mass conversions and the impossibility of incorporating the Lord’s Supper into these massive meetings, De Arteaga still affirms that the Lord’s Supper should play an important role in the revival of the church. In his view, it is the Wesleyan emphasis on sanctification along with its holistic model of Christian life and discipleship—including the Word, the sacraments, small group meetings, presence of the Spirit, robust hymnology, practical ministry to the poor, and goal of Christian perfection—which will produce and sustain revival.

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Category: Church History, Spring 2003

About the Author: Francisco R. Arriola, M. Div., M.S.L.S., is an educator and theological librarian. He has served as a research librarian and director at several institutions including Colegio Pentecostal Mizpa in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Juan L. Lugo Library at Colegio Bíblico Pentecostal in Saint Just, Puerto Rico, and Bolin Library for Pentecostal Research at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

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