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Dean Merrill: 50 Pentecostal and Charismatic Leaders Every Christian Should Know

Dean Merrill, 50 Pentecostal and Charismatic Leaders Every Christian Should Know (Bloomington, MN: Chosen Books, 2021), 288 pages, ISBN 9780800762025.

Dean Merrill is a prolific writer. He has written a number of books including, Miracle Invasion which was published in 2018. He has also collaborated with others like Jim Cymbala and Gracia Burnham to help them tell their stories. In addition, he has used his writing and editing skills for a number of well-known Christian magazines including the Pentecostal Evangel, the Christian Herald and Leadership. His extensive writing experience indicates that he is highly respected in his field.

In this book he shares the stories of 50 Pentecostal/charismatic leaders. He devotes one chapter to each individual (or couple). The chapters are short and provide some of the most important details of the leader’s life and ministry. But the book does not just focus on the positive traits of the leaders, at certain points the author also mentions some of their shortcomings. If you are a Pentecostal or charismatic you will probably be familiar with at least some of the people who are included in the book. The more well-known leaders include people like Smith Wigglesworth, William J. Seymour, Aimee Semple McPherson, Kathryn Kuhlman, and Jack Hayford. Others are not as widely known. Two of the lesser-known leaders are Francisco Olazábal and J. E. Stiles. Depending on the church circles you traveled in and the reading you have done, different individuals might wind up on your well-known and less-known lists. As Craig Keener points out in the Foreword, “… Merrill has done a superb job in providing an array that reflects the great diversity of Pentecostals and charismatics: both genders, multiple ethnicities, and representatives from a wide range of denominations.” This is true.

The Pentecostal and charismatic movements and their leaders have truly shaken the world.

In addition to the diversity that Keener mentions, the people who are included in this book represent a diversity of ministries. John G. Lake, F. F. Bosworth, William Branham, Oral Roberts, and Francis and Judith MacNutt are probably best-known for their healing ministries. John and Elizabeth Sherrill and Jamie Buckingham are known for their written works. T.L and Daisy Osborn and Reinhard Bonnke are known for their evangelistic preaching and healing ministries, and Pat Robertson and David Mainse are known for their TV programs. So a cross section of ministries is represented in the book. Others, like Mike Bickle and John and Carol Arnott, are known largely for their work in their home ministries. Bickle is known for the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and the Arnotts are known for their church in Canada where the “Toronto Blessing” broke out.

As I looked through the table of contents, I counted five leaders that I have actually heard speak in person: Everett “Terry” Fullam, David Wilkerson, Jack Hayford, Reinhard Bonnke, and Jim Cymbala. One cannot help but be struck by how the Lord used each of the people included in this book. All of them made, or are making, a significant impact on large numbers of people. Some have led unbelievers to Christ, others have helped believers enter into a fuller experience of the Holy Spirit, and still others were used by the Lord to bringing physical healing to those in need. One note here regarding physical healing, there is a very unusual miracle that is described in the chapter about Smith Wigglesworth. All of the leaders whose stories are told in this book, in one way or another, helped people to have an experience with the Lord. Different readers will no doubt be drawn to different chapters. One of the things I noticed while reading, though it was not a major focus of the book, was the aversion of some of the leaders to racism, among them were John G. Lake, F. F. Bosworth, William Branham, and Bernard E. Underwood and Ithiel Clemmons.

Lord, will you do these things in our day? Will you use me and work like this in and through my life?

I have been a part of the Pentecostal movement for almost 40 years and I learned some new things as I read this book. Merrill’s writing style is very clear and that contributes to making this volume a real “page turner.” It is enjoyable to read. I expect that one common reaction people will have after reading this book will be prayer. “Lord, will you do these things in our day? Will you use me and work like this in and through my life?” May God cause it to be so. The Pentecostal and charismatic movements and their leaders have truly shaken the world. The size of these movements worldwide attests to that. It is good that we now have this volume with its overview of the lives and ministries of some of the major Pentecostal and charismatic church leaders. Their lives are inspiring. May the Lord use this book to lift our eyes to what He can do though yielded, though imperfect, vessels. We are still in the period of time known as the last days, the time in which God said He would pour out His Spirit (Acts 2:17). Let us look to Him to continue to do so.

Reviewed by John Lathrop


More from Dean Merrill

They Moved the Kingdom of God Forward: An interview with Dean Merrill about his book, 50 Pentecostal and Charismatic Leaders Every Christian Should Know (Chosen, 2021).

Dean Merrill, “A Higher Code” is a full chapter from the book Miracle Invasion.


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Category: Church History, Spring 2021

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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