Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spirit Empowered Christianity in the 21st Century ~ Book Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card Book is:

Charisma House (February 1, 2011) 

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Vinson Synan has been Dean of the School of Divinity at Regent University since 1994. Before that he served as a pastor and the General Secretary of the Pentecostal Holiness denomination. Dr. Synan has produced 15 works as the premier historian of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement.


What does a re-vision of the Charismatic/Pentecostal Spirit-empowered movement look like in the coming years of this millennium? The first century of this revival seems to attest that the Lord raised up the holiness and Pentecostal movements not only to be custodians of these distinctive truths, but the perpetuators of them as well. If any generation ceases to accentuate this emphasis, the movement likely will forfeit the right to be recognized as such.

When the Pentecostal message is preached, published, and proclaimed through triumphant song, an atmosphere is sustained for people to experience anew and again the reality of salvation, holiness, charismata, wholeness, and hope. Such a revival will be biblically based, rationally sound, traditionally accurate, and experientially real.

Spirit-Empowered Christianity in the 21st Century is an authoritative compilation of the presentations from thirty leaders in the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement given at the Empowered 21 Conference in Tulsa, OK, in April 2010. These chapters share emerging insights on how the next generation will handle the profound issues facing Christians within the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement in the 21st century. For example, one portion covers the topic of the 21st century renewal while another discusses how we can protect our Charismatic distinctive. Another portion will highlight Charismatic adaptations for reaching this present age, discussing issues of social and economic justice, prosperity and suffering, challenges to urban ministry, the future of the next generation, Oneness Pentecostalism, and missiological aims in North America.

Product Details:

List Price: $34.99
Hardcover: 608 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616382198
ISBN-13: 978-1616382193


The Charismatic Renewal
After Fifty Years

Vinson Synan, PhD, Dean Emeritus
Regent University School of Divinity

Charismatics are Christians who emphasize the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit toward the proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

–Fr. Kilian McDonnell

It seemed to creep up on us, the realization that 2010 marked the fifty-year jubilee of the Charismatic Renewal movement that began on April 3, 1960, when Dennis Bennett, an Episcopal priest, told his upscale St. Marks Episcopal congregation in Van Nuys, California, about the morning in 1959 when he was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues in a prayer meeting led by Spirit-filled Episcopalians. This event in Van Nuys marked the beginning of what is now known as the Charismatic Renewal, which has since spread to practically every denomination and congregation in the Christian world. For some of us it seems only yesterday when news came in the press about this well-educated Episcopal priest who broke all the stereotypes by doing what Pentecostals had been doing for the previous sixty years: speaking in tongues, healing the sick, and casting out demons. This was the beginning of a new movement, which has gone through several names and phases and has grown enormously around the world.
In his book Nine O’Clock in the Morning, Bennett described the event that sparked this spiritual revolution:

I suppose I must have prayed out loud for about twenty minutes—at least it seemed like a long time—and was about to give up when a very strange thing happened. My tongue tripped just as it might when you are trying to say a tongue twister, and I began to speak in a new language!

Right away I recognized several things: first, it wasn’t some kind of psychological trick or compulsion. There was nothing compulsive about it. . . . It was a new language, not some kind of “baby talk.” It had grammar and syntax, it had inflection and expression—and it was rather beautiful.1

Although Bennett was not the first mainline pastor to speak in tongues, hundreds of others, such as Richard Winckler, Harald Bredesen, Tommy Tyson, and Gerald Derstine, had preceded him, but because of widespread publicity Bennett was the one who created the movement. Soon thousands of pastors and laymen in the mainline American churches began to seek the Pentecostal experience. When they received the baptism, many expected to be excommunicated from their churches, as the Pentecostals had experienced decades before, but Bennett and the vast majority of these new Pentecostals were allowed to remain in their churches. Some of these pioneers were: Brick Bradford, Rodman Williams, and James Brown (Presbyterian); Ross Whetstone and Gary Moore (Methodist); Howard Conatser and Gary Clark (Baptist); Larry Christenson and Morris Vaagenes (Lutheran); and Nelson Litwiller (Mennonite). In addition to these there were thousands of others who joined the ranks and were able to remain in their churches, although, sad to say, some of them suffered severe rejection and persecution.2

Roots of the Charismatic Renewal

Of course, the Charismatic Renewal did not occur in a vacuum. The Pentecostal movement, with roots in the earlier Holiness movement, had rapidly spread news of the Pentecostal experience since 1901, when Charles Parham began to teach that speaking in tongues was the “Bible evidence” of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The movement became worldwide in 1906 with the beginning of the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, led by the black Holiness preacher William J. Seymour. For decades the Pentecostals were pilloried from the pulpits of the mainline churches and mocked in the American press. Indeed, those who spoke in tongues were accused of being mentally and socially deprived or simply “holy rollers.”3

The person who, more than any other one, brought Pentecostalism to the attention of the larger church world and American society at large was Oral Roberts, an Oklahoma Pentecostal Holiness preacher who started a new healing ministry in Enid, Oklahoma, in 1947. In time Roberts packed out his huge tent and the largest auditoriums in America before taking his message to television in 1955. Suddenly Americans of all church backgrounds were seeing healings and Pentecostal worship in their living rooms. Millions of people were attracted not only to the man but also to his message. Many observers and historians believe that Roberts was the major person behind the beginning of the Charismatic movement in the 1960s.4

Another important force in spreading the movement was the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI), which was founded by California dairyman Demos Shakarian in 1951. With the help of Roberts, the Full Gospel laymen became a major platform for hundreds and thousands of pastors and laymen from the mainline churches, many of whom would never enter a Pentecostal church.

The “Neo-Pentecostals”

Because of the Pentecostal roots of the movement, the mainline tongues speakers were at first called “neo-Pentecostals” for want of a better name. Pentecostals often called them “neos” and “collars” while planning conferences in which they were invited to participate. At first, there was little difference between the neo-Pentecostals and the older Pentecostals in both theology and worship styles. Dennis Bennett consistently proclaimed that tongues were “part of the package” and were to be expected by everyone who claimed a full Pentecostal experience. Other leaders, such as Howard Irving of Oral Roberts University and Rodman Williams of Regent University, were very close to their Pentecostal brothers and sisters in describing the Pentecostal experience.

While the Pentecostals insisted that speaking in tongues was the “initial evidence” of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, Williams and others spoke of tongues as the “primary evidence.”5 At any rate, almost all of these neo-Pentecostals sought for and received the tongues experience. To distinguish themselves from the classical Pentecostals, they graciously called themselves “neo-Pentecostals.”

Around 1965 these “new” Pentecostals adopted the term Charismatic to distinguish themselves from their less respected but admired Pentecostal brothers and sisters. At first these were mainline Protestants in many churches, some of whom suffered persecution for their new experience and identity. The word Charismatic also meant that these people emphasized all the gifts of the Spirit and not just tongues.

The term neo-Pentecostal was soon abandoned. In time most Charismatics dropped the idea that everyone who received the baptism in the Holy Spirit would speak in tongues. Tongues were highly valued but were seen as one of many gifts that could come with the experience.

The Catholic Charismatics

For seven years, from 1960 to 1967, the movement was limited to the Protestant church world with no apparent breakthroughs into the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. But in 1967, to the utter astonishment of most of the Pentecostals and Charismatics, the movement entered the Roman Catholic Church. This happened in a prayer retreat at Duquesne University led by two professors and about thirty graduate students of theology. On a night in February, the first Catholic Charismatic prayer meeting began with the students who went upstairs to tarry for a Pentecostal outpouring. Patty Gallagher described the scene in the upper room of the Chi Rho retreat center:

That night the Lord brought the whole group into the chapel. I found my prayers pouring forth that the others might come to know Him too. My former shyness about praying aloud was completely gone as the Holy Spirit spoke through us. The professors then laid hands on some of the students, but some of us received the “baptism in the Holy Spirit” while kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer. Some of us started speaking in tongues. Others received gifts of discernment, prophecy and wisdom. But the most important gift was the fruit of love which bound the whole community together.6

From Duquesne the movement spread rapidly to Catholic graduate students at the University of Michigan and then to Notre Dame University, the intellectual and football capital of American Catholicism. Then, like a prairie fire, the movement spread from campus to campus and parish to parish until the whole church was alive with thousands of lively prayer groups. From America the movement spread to Catholic communities all over the world. After Pope Paul VI gave his papal blessing to the movement in St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome in 1975, the Charismatic Renewal became the fastest growing grassroots movement in the Roman Catholic Church.

Catholic bishops and scholars soon saw the value of the movement since the fires of Pentecost attracted multitudes of former Catholics back to the church. Others left the church to join Pentecostal churches that seemed to have more life and fire. In a short time, Catholic scholars such as Kevin Ranaghan and Kilian McDonnell began the task of domesticating the fire of the movement with a new Catholic theology of the baptism in the Holy Spirit that would allow the movement to gain the approval of priests, bishops, and even the pope himself. The new view was that the Holy Spirit was given at baptism to every Catholic, but the later experience that was called “baptism in the Holy Spirit” was in reality an “actualization” or “release” of what had been received in the sacrament of initiation. In the end, most of the Protestant liturgical churches, like the Episcopal and Lutheran churches, adopted this view.7

The High Point of the Renewal

By the late 1970s the movement was exploding all over the nation and the world. Following the lead of Oral Roberts, new televangelists appeared on TV screens and drew millions of followers. Among them were Pat Robertson and his The 700 Club, Paul Crouch and his Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), Jim Bakker and his Praise The Lord (PTL) network, and Jimmy Swaggart, with his fiery and popular evangelistic television ministry.

In a short time the movement continued to burgeon in all the denominations with large conferences and thousands of prayer groups. The Catholics held huge conferences at Notre Dame that reached thirty thousand participants in 1973. The Lutherans conducted an annual Charismatic conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, that at times reached twenty-five thousand, the largest annual gathering of Lutherans in the United States. At the same time, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Mennonites held large annual conferences. This was a period of great growth and success and even “giantism” in huge rallies that burst upon the scene in the late 1970s.

It all reached a climax in 1977 with the Kansas City Conference, where some fifty thousand people from all over America gathered to bear a common witness to the work of the Holy Spirit in the churches. Pentecostals and Charismatics from all denominations gathered in the evenings to hear such luminaries as Cardinal Léon-Joseph Suenens of Belgium, Bob Mumford, Bishop J. O. Patterson, and Francis McNutt. The miracle was that one-half of the people there were Roman Catholic. The other half represented all the Pentecostal churches and the mainline Protestant churches.8

In these heady years, most of the mainline renewal movements set up offices to handle the large annual conferences and the magazines that served their growing constituencies. The Catholic centers included Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Notre Dame, Indiana. The Lutheran headquarters was in St. Paul, Minnesota, while the Methodists worked out of Nashville, Tennessee. The Presbyterians also had a very busy renewal center in Oklahoma City. Many other renewal organizations cropped up all over the nation.

Charismatic Controversies

The fast-growing movement was not without its problems and controversies during these years. The most divisive problem concerned the discipleship, or shepherding, movement led at that time by the Fort Lauderdale leaders Charles Simpson, Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Ern Baxter, and Don Basham. In order to promote healing and provide more leadership for the huge and unwieldy movement, a group was begun in 1975. Called the Charismatic Concerns Committee, this group met annually in Glencoe, Missouri, and wrestled with the shepherding controversy. They ultimately kept a sense of unity in the movement at large. Leaders of this group included Kevin Ranaghan, Larry Christenson, Vinson Synan, Vernon Stoop, and in later years Francis McNutt and Scott Kelso.9

Because of the unity in the Glencoe group, a series of massive congresses were planned and carried out by these leaders. The first, for leaders only, was in New Orleans in 1986. Seventy-five hundred leaders registered for the event. The 1987 congress was the first open to the general public, and there were forty thousand attendees. The second was in Indianapolis in 1990, the third was in Orlando in 1995, and the fourth was in St. Louis in 2000. These were led by Vinson Synan and were supported by all the major renewal groups. After the St. Louis meeting in 2000, there were no more large ecumenical rallies held to bring all sectors of the renewal together in one great meeting. Afterward the renewal groups continued to meet separately, sometimes on a regional basis.

At the height of the renewal, Cardinal Suenens stated that the Charismatic movement should “disappear into the life stream of the church” with the goal of renewing the entire church through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. At any rate, after the turn of the twenty-first century the Charismatic Renewal began to diffuse itself into the regular life of the churches with a diminishing emphasis on separate conferences. Some of the smaller Charismatic organizations withered away as the movement lost its freshness and news value.

Also, many independent Pentecostals began to adopt the word Charismatic to describe their own ministries. In time the word was used not only to describe renewal in the mainline churches but was used synonymously with Pentecostal. By the 1990s scholars began to speak of the “Pentecostal/Charismatic movement” to describe the whole phenomenon.

Worldwide Growth

While the Charismatic movement began to plateau in Europe and North America, it continued to experience enormous growth throughout the developing world. In India, Africa, and Latin America almost all churches—Catholic, Protestant, and even Orthodox—adopted the Charismatic experience and worship styles. Historian David Harrell, an expert on Indian Christianity, stated that all the churches in India are now Charismatic.10 The same could be said of many other nations in the world.

In Africa, the Anglican and Catholic churches experienced phenomenal growth, largely due to the energy sustained from the Charismatic Renewal. However, huge indigenous Pentecostal movements also sprang up in Africa and many other developing nations that were not connected to Western missions such as the Assemblies of God or Church of God. In Africa great movements with thousands of churches developed under the leadership of such figures as William Kumuyi, Enoch Adeboye, and David Oyedepo.

Although these were clearly in the classical Pentecostal tradition, David Barrett and other researchers began to use a catchword name for all that did not fall clearly under the names “Pentecostal” or “Charismatic.” The new term was neo-Charismatic. Major movements under the name “neo-Charismatic” were those connected with John Wimber’s Association of Vineyard Churches, which spread around the world under his dynamic ministry. In these movements there was an emphasis on signs and wonders, power encounters, healing, and exorcisms that placed them very close to their Pentecostal brothers. Like other Charismatics, many neo-Charismatics did not insist on speaking in tongues as the single initial evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. The ranks of the neo-Charismatic movements expanded greatly during the 1990s with the advent of the Toronto Blessing movement in 1993 and the Brownsville revival in Florida in 1995.

The Shape of the Renewal Today

As of 2006 the Pentecostal Charismatic Renewal had appeared in three major phases, according to researcher David Barrett. These were the Pentecostal wave beginning in 1901, the Charismatic wave starting in the mainline churches in 1960, and the neo-Charismatic wave beginning in about 1980. Those individuals participating in the latter category were first called the Post-denominational Charismatics and later the neo-Charismatics.11

The following is the latest view of the situation as the world celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal in 2010:

The First Wave— Classical Pentecostals 94,383,000
The Second Wave— Mainline Charismatics 206,579,000
The Third Wave— Neo-Charismatics 313,048,000
Total 614,010,00012

Looking at these figures it becomes obvious that the greatest growth has been and continues to be in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The African crusades of the German Pentecostal evangelist Reinhard Bonnke are now eclipsing those of any other preacher in history with as many as one million conversions in a single service.

Although the statistics are impressive indeed, the growth has been much smaller in North America and Europe. It seems that signs and wonders are more prevalent in less developed parts of the world. Perhaps the scientific and secular worldview of the West may act as a hindrance to the dynamics of revival that are being experienced elsewhere.

According to a Pew Forum Survey in 2006, large percentages of ten nations studied had very large populations of Pentecostals and Charismatics. Together they were called “Renewalists.” The nations were the United States, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, India, the Philippines, and South Korea. Of these countries, two nations, Guatemala and Kenya, reported an absolute majority of the population that identified themselves as Renewalists.13

The following list gives the results for all ten nations:

1. The United States—total population: 300,055,192
(Source: US Census Bureau)

Pentecostals—5 percent (15,002,760)

Charismatics—18 percent (54,000,000)

Total—23 percent (69,012,694)14

2. Brazil—total population 186,112,794 (Source: World Factbook and all others)

Pentecostals—15 percent (27,916,919)

Charismatics—34 percent (63,278,349)

Total—49 percent (91,195,269)

3. Chile—total population: 16,134,219

Pentecostals—9 percent (1,452,079)

Charismatics—21 percent (3,388,185

Total—30 percent (4,840,265)

4. Guatemala—total population: 12,293,545

Pentecostals—20 percent (2,458,709)

Charismatics—40 percent (4,917,418)

Total—60 percent (7,376,127)

5. Kenya—total population: 34,707,815

Pentecostals—33 percent (11,453,580)

Charismatics—23 percent (7,982,798)

Total—56 percent (19,436,378)

6. Nigeria—total population: 131,859,731

Pentecostals—18 percent (23,734,752)

Charismatics—9 percent (10,548,779)

Total—25 percent (34,284,530)

7. South Africa—total population: 44,187,537

Pentecostals—10 percent (4,187,637)

Charismatics—24 percent (10,605,034)

Total—34 percent (15,023,797)

8. India—total population: 1,095,351,995

Pentecostals—1 percent (10,953,520)

Charismatics—4 percent (43,814,080)

Total—5 percent (54,767,600)

9. Philippines—total population: 89,468,677

Pentecostals—4 percent (3,578,747)

Charismatics—40 percent (35,787,470)

Total—44 percent (39,366,218)

10. South Korea—total population: 48,846,823

Pentecostals—2 percent (976,936)

Charismatics—9 percent (4,392,140)

Total—11 percent (5,373,150)15

For the continents of the world, Barrett gives the following figures as of 2006, the centennial year of the Azusa Street revival:

Africa 150,000,000
Asia 165,000,000
Europe 34,000,000
South America 158,000,000
North America 83,000,000
Oceania 4,600,000
World Total 600,000,000

Some Prophetic Words for the Future

Although I’m a historian with a perspective typically geared toward the past, I’ve often been asked to predict what might happen in the future of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal. This has meant abandoning the task of surveying the past and becoming a prophet as I look toward the future. Although I’ve never claimed the gift of predicting the future, I do believe scholarship demands that researchers share their insights in order to warn future generations not to make the same mistakes of the past.

As I look back over a lifetime working in my church, in the broader ecumenical world, and in academia, I try to take a long view toward the future as I share what I think lies over the horizon. With that in mind, here are ten predictions that I’ll be brave enough to make:

1. The Pentecostal and Charismatic movements—in all
their different forms—will grow to make up more than
half of all the Christians in the world in the twenty-
first century. These movements already claimed more
than 25 percent of all Christians in 2000. And with

present growth rates, along with the shrinking of mainline churches, this seems to be a certainty.

The Assemblies of God will become the largest single Protestant church family in the world. With more than 60 million members in the world in 2010 and with very rapid growth rates, this church should surpass the Anglicans, the Baptists, the Methodists, and the Lutherans in their worldwide members, followers, and/ or adherents.

Pentecostals will eventually claim half the population of Africa and, in the long run, will outgrow Muslims in the battle for control of the continent.

Classical Pentecostals and Roman Catholic Charismatics will become the majority of all Latin American national populations before the end of the twenty-first century.

Africa will be the salvation of the Anglican Communion as their fast-growing national churches eventually take control of the Anglican world. The North American and British branches of the Anglican world will diminish in size to become negligible and less influential parts of the church. The American Episcopal Church might actually be expelled from the Lambeth Conference of Bishops by the end of the century. This might serve as the salvation of this historic communion. The same could well happen in other Protestant denominations.

Through the mass healing crusades of Pentecostal evangelists such as Reinhard Bonnke and Benny Hinn,

Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity will become more than 10 percent of the population of India.

China will have the largest Christian population in the world by the end of the twenty-first century. Pentecostal and Charismatic churches will make up the vast majority of these new Christians. Along with this revival will come the end of communist rule in China and the institution of true democracy.

Because of very high birth rates, the number of Muslims will increase in most Western nations, including Britain, Germany, France, and the United States. The world population of Muslims will climb during the century because many Christians practicing birth control will have smaller families and because most Western nations have massive abortion rates. The only possibility for change in this trend would be a mighty revival of signs and wonders that will convert hundreds of millions of Muslims to Christianity.

In time, as the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements continue to grow, more than half of the heads of state in the world will be Pentecostals or Charismatics. Demographic growth has always been followed by political influence and power.

The future of Christian affairs will be more and more in the hands of the massively growing Pentecostal churches and a Roman Catholic Church that has been renewed and energized by the Charismatic Renewal.16

Perhaps one of the most prophetic words about the future of Pentecostalism was written by a most unlikely person, Harvey Cox of Harvard University School of Divinity. In 1994 he mildly shocked the Christian world with the publication of his book Fire From Heaven, with the meaningful subtitle The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-First Century. Already famous for his 1965 book The Secular City, in which he proclaimed the end of religion as a priority in the life of modern man, he was toasted by such “God is dead” theologians as Thomas Altizer, Paul Van Buren, and William Hamilton. Yet three decades later Cox reversed his field by celebrating the return of religion for modern man through the exploding Pentecostal and Charismatic movements of the world. He seemed to come full circle from the “God is dead” era to the “Spirit is alive and well” era inspired by the rise of Pentecostalism as a major worldwide spiritual force.17

The initiative is now in the hands of the Pentecostals and Charismatics of the world to do as Cox has suggested; i.e., to “reshape religion” in this century. This is indeed a tall order but one that I believe is possible as a new generation of brilliant Pentecostal scholars set themselves to bringing Christianity back to its earliest roots, as seen in the full Charismatic New Testament church.

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