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Michael Wilkinson: Canadian Pentecostalism


Michael Wilkinson, ed., Canadian Pentecostalism: Transition and Transformation (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009), 308 pages, ISBN 978077355.

Canada is probably not the first place that comes to mind when we speak of Pentecostalism. One of the most significant transformations in twentieth-century Christianity, the emergence and development of Pentecostalism is typically more closely related to the history of the United States. Even in its global proportions, Africa, Asia, and Latin America may come to mind before one thinks of Pentecostalism in Canada. Michael Wilkinson’s book shows us that we have been misinformed. Canadian Pentecostalism provides the first comprehensive overview of Pentecostalism in Canada.

The book is a collection of essays from thirteen scholars, most of them Canadian, and all of them intimately familiar with the subject matter. The collection begins with the editor’s introduction, properly entitled “Pentecostalism in Canada.” The reader learns about the official history of Pentecostals in Canada since 1911 and the variety of denominations that characterize the Pentecostal landscape in the northern part of the North American continent. Wilkinson introduces the reader to the fundamental questions to which the book attends: How did Pentecostals emerge and develop in Canada? What are the particularities of Pentecostalism in Canada? And how did the Pentecostal movement become institutionalized and globalized? The book is organized around these questions into three areas: the origins and development of Pentecostalism in Canada, aspects of the Canadian experience of Pentecostalism, and the institutionalization and globalization of Pentecostalism.

In the first part, Michael Di Giacomo, Thomas A. Robinson, Peter Althouse, and Randall Holm seek to uncover the origins of Pentecostalism in Canada as well as to overcome the historiographical bias that has shifted too much attention to the United States. Giacomo addresses the early British influences on Pentecostals in Canada, Robinson examines Oneness Pentecostalism, Althouse explores the social dimension of Pentecostal eschatology, and Holm looks at the peculiarities of Canadian Pentecostal spirituality.

The second part deals with the development of Pentecostalism in education, theology, mission, and gender relations. Bruce Guenther explores the distinctive beliefs of Pentecostals and its pedagogical influences in Canada. Martin Mittelstadt looks at the distinctive Pentecostal reading of the Bible from the perspective of Luke-Acts. Robert Burkinshaw describes the early developments of mission work by Pentecostals in British Columbia, and Pamela Holmes considers the interactions of gender, institutions, and Pentecostal spirituality.

Michael Wilkinson

The final part contains essays by David Reed, who offers a case study on the role of charisma in the Anglican Communion, Donald Swenson, who gives an account of the charismatic movement in the Roman Catholic Church in Canada, Stephen Hunt, who seeks to situate the so-called Toronto Blessing in the context of global society, Michael Wilkinson, who examines the reverse flow of globalization in the Canadian context, and Peter Beyer, who evaluates the global and local factors necessary for situating Pentecostalism in Canada.

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Category: Church History, Winter 2010

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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