Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997
Review by Eerdmans Publishers
Vinson Synan is dean of the School of Divinity at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. This review from the back cover of the book summarises the scope of this book written by a world recognised Pentecostal historian.
Called “a pioneer contribution” by Church History when it was first published in 1971 as The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement in the United States, this volume has now been revised and enlarged by Vinson Synan to account for the incredible changes that have occurred in the church world during the last quarter of the twentieth century.
Synan brings together the stories of the many movements usually labelled “holiness,” “Pentecostal,” or “charismatic,” and shows that there is an identifiable “second blessing” tradition in Christianity that began with the Catholic and Anglican mystics, that was crystallized in the teaching of John Wesley, and that was further perpetuated through the holiness and Keswick movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the appearance of modern Pentecostalism.
Synan then chronicles the story of the spread of Pentecostalism around the world after the heady days of the Azusa Street awakening, with special attention given to the beginnings of the movement in those nations where Pentecostalism has become a major religious force. He also examines the rise of various mainline-church charismatic move- merits that have their roots in Pentecostalism. Because of the explosive growth of the Pentecostal movement in the last half of the century, Pentecostals and Charismatics now constitute the second largest family of Christians in the world.
“This could well he the major story of Christianity in the twentieth century,” writes Synan. “Pentecostalism has grown beyond a mere passing ‘movement’ . . . and can now he seen as a major Christian ‘tradition’ alongside the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Reformation Protestant traditions.”
The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition will continue to be an important handbook for shaping our understanding of this phenomenon.
Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 1998
Review By Ruth A. McKeand
Some books will make you happy. Some will encourage you. Some will challenge you. Some will make you think. Some will even make you angry. The God Chasers will do all these and more.
Tommy Tenney, whose pen authored The God Chasers, has spent 30 years in the ministry. He’s seen and experienced much of God. Like King David, he has always sought to be “a man after God’s own heart.” To Tenney, this seeking after God’s heart is the essence of a God chaser.
The God chaser longs for deep intimacy with God. He or she wants more than just the “stuff” of ordinary religious experience. Tenney, like all true God chasers, has questioned why we find entering into the desired intimacy so difficult. Why, if God is all I truly want, am I so aware of “where He’s been” instead of being conscious of “where He is?” And so, painting picture after picture, Tenney reveals many of the things that get in the way of intimacy with God.
First, Tenney challenges us to ask ourselves if we are truly seeking God. With statements like “it’s simply not enough to know about God. We have churches filled with people who can win Bible trivia contests but who don’t know Him,” he invites us to look at our own walks with God. Do we realize, as Tenney did, that “there is much more of God available than we have ever known or imagined, but we have become so satisfied with where we are and what we have that we don’t press in for God’s best.”
Secondly, we must honestly look at what we’re eating each day. Tenney’s comments may anger you but he believes that “most of us . . . keep our lives so jammed with junk food for the soul and amusements for the flesh that we don’t know what it is to be really hungry.” He views this daily diet of the typical believer as one of the main obstacles to intimacy with the Almighty for most of us. He sees too many of us being more concerned with our own comfort, and that of our families, and all the things we want (or have) to do, that God gets precious little of our attention. When we do come before Him, our minds are preoccupied with the cares of this life. He points out that “we’re happy with our music the way it is” and we’re content with services designed for pleasing men “instead of yielding to what God likes.” We want the stuff that God can give us, without the commitment and intimacy of union with Him. But Tenney calls us repeatedly back to the desire of the God chaser. The true God chaser wants to see His face, just as did Moses and the Apostle John.
Most of us want revival today. We truly believe we want God to be real to us and in us. But Tenney calls us to pause and think. There’s more to this relationship with God than getting the stuff. The first step to real, personal revival, according to Rev. Tenney, “is to recognize that you are in a state of decline.” Recognizing our true state will birth a “divine discontent” in us, out of which real hunger for God will grow.
Tenney contends that most of us have “become addicted to the anointing, the relayed word of good preaching and teaching,” preferring for someone else to go up the mountain to seek God for us. Like Israel of old, we prefer “distant respect” over “intimate relationship” with the Almighty. We seek revival instead of the Reviver just as we so easily fall into the selfish trap of seeking the gifts instead of the Giver.
Tenney points out that “there is something in us that makes us afraid of the commitment that comes with real intimacy with God.” One reason, he says, is that “intimacy with God requires purity.” In this hour “God is calling people who want serious revival into a place of transparent purity. It’s you who He’s after.” This kind of purity requires death and that is the greatest barrier of all that the believer faces. We all fear death, but to see God’s face, one must die. No one can see God’s face and live according to Scripture.
“It is God’s mercy that keeps Him away from us,” Tenney says. We are sinful flesh and He is absolute holiness and purity. The latter will destroy the former if, and when, it comes into its presence. But be encouraged. There is hope. Through “repentance and brokenness—the New Testament equivalent of death,” we can become “dead men walking.” And dead men can enter the presence of God without fear. Brother Tenney urges us not to shrink back from the altar upon which God would have us sacrifice our egos. Instead he provokes us to embrace death of self and to see it as the only way we can truly see God’s face.
The God chaser is after God Himself. Many know about God. He’s everywhere all the time. That’s His omnipresence. But, Tenney declares, “There are also times when He concentrates the very essence of His being into what many call ‘the manifest presence of God.’” That’s the deepest desire of the God chaser, the manifest presence of God! For this, he is very willing to die! But first we must admit our need and our hunger. That’s what God is looking for. It’s in this state of brokenness, repentance, and hunger that God can come with His presence and His power and begin to really change us. It’s admitting our need and our hunger, and then seeing our true state, which brings the brokenness and repentance that opens the door for God “to take us through the complete process . . . without hindering or quenching His Spirit, then when the kabod, the weighty presence of God, comes among us and upon us, then we will be able to carry it without fear because we will be walking in the purity of Jesus and our flesh will be dead, covered by the blood of the Lamb.”
Tenney believes the world cannot be changed until God is freely allowed to change each of us. We can truly touch our world as witnesses and evangelists only when we engage in what Tenney calls “presence evangelism.” He believes God can, and will, change us as we experience His presence because experiencing “God’s glory is life-changing. It is the most habit-forming experience a human being can have, and the only side effect is death to the flesh.” This prepares us for God’s true purpose, evangelism. But the evangelism that Tenney looks for in the church is “when the residue of God on a person creates a divine radiation zone of the manifest presence of God, so much so that it affects those around you.” This type of evangelism is not “an emotional encounter with man but a death encounter with the glory and presence of God Himself.”
“It is time for God’s people to get desperately hungry after Him,” says Tenney, “because the fires of revival must first ignite the Church before its flames can spread to the streets.” But he warns, “Supernatural things . . . will happen to you too, but it only comes one way. There is no shortcut to revival or the coming of His presence. God’s glory only comes when repentance and brokenness drive you to your knees, because His presence requires purity.” It’s only when we candidly look into our own hearts that we, like the prodigal son, see there the deep “poverty of heart.” It is this revelation that will propel us back to the Father’s arms. And once there we will see His face, sense His power, and experience His presence. It’s there, in the arms of Love Himself, the God chaser finds true happiness and a joy unspeakable and full of glory! It’s there that the God chaser finds that he’s been caught by the very One he’s been chasing all along! And that’s the purpose of this book by Tommy Tenney . . . to whet our appetites and change each of us into a God chaser so we too can get caught by the One Who’s caught him!
Orlando: Creation House, 1995
Reviewed by Tony Peter
Primary Purpose is a practical book on winning souls for the kingdom of God, especially from a pastoral point of view. Founder and senior pastor of the 6000 member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Ted Haggard is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and has co-authored with Jack Hayford a similar book called Loving your City into the Kingdom.
Ted Haggard writes with a pastor’s heart and a passion for winning souls to Christ in practical, relevant ways. His book includes charts and diagrams as well as practical stories.
The book is focused on three foundations for any attempt to win the lost for Christ and to grow the church. The first is prayer; all kinds of prayer. The second is keeping focused on the task of evangelism; all kinds of evangelism. The third is unity between individuals and the churches.
Haggard begins the book by giving a short testimony of the beginnings of his New Life Church in Colorado Springs. He describes the difficulties and the challenges in starting a new church in an area once known as a difficult place to successfully start and continue a work for the Lord. He describes not only his struggles in starting his church but also in continuing to keep his church on track for the primary purpose of winning the community and city to Christ.
The second part of the book deals with what he calls five principles of keeping your church on the primary purpose. The first principle is that of focusing on the absolutes of Scripture and not side tangents such as different doctrinal issues between individuals and churches.
The second principle is to promote Christ and his Word, not you or your own ideas. This is the key to reaching the lost. Haggard laments that too many individuals and churches focus on winning other Christians from other churches through transfer growth rather than focusing on winning the lost through conversion growth.
The Third principle is to pray for the Holy Spirit’s activity in your area. Haggard describes this as increasing the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the area where you want to win the lost. This changes the climate of the area to open the way to win souls for the Lord.
The fourth principle is to appreciate and respect one another’s interpretations of Scripture. Different churches interpret Scripture differently and act accordingly. As long as they do not transgress the fundamentals of Scripture they will appeal to different people from all walks of life that become saved and then attend a church that will suit them. Divisions or conflict between churches can stifle the Holy Spirit and stop evangelism.
The fifth principle is honouring others through supportive speech and actions. Haggard explains that this is another way of maintaining unity in the body of Christ between the churches.
The third and last part of the book focuses on the lifestyle, character and fruit of Christians and churches in relationship to evangelism. Haggard explains that it is the church’s function to live as the Bible calls us to live. Then we shall see the fruit of this lifestyle, namely souls won for Christ and churches growing.
Haggard describes the Christian lifestyle as continuous spiritual warfare. Only through a righteous lifestyle can the believer and the church truly advance the Kingdom of God as we are supposed to.
This is a practical, thorough book on evangelism from a pastor’s point of view rather than an evangelist’s point of view. Ted Haggard writes with a passion not only to see souls saved and churches grow but to see the whole community, city and nation changed. The book is a vital manual for any Christian wanting to start a new work or church in any part of the world.
The stories and principles make it a great book for anyone, especially pastors, wanting to reach people with the gospel. This book focuses on proven strategies for the advancing the Kingdom of God today. Essential strategies include prayer warfare, unity between believers and churches, and focusing on the primary mission of the church, evangelism.
This book is one of the best I have read concerning winning souls, communities and cities to Christ through a pastor’s heart for people and not just as a quest for numbers. It shows that whole communities and cities can be won for the Lord and that God wants more of his children to step out in faith with love for the lost.
© Renewal Journal #14: Anointing, http://www.renewaljournal.com
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.
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