by David Martin
This book gives a detailed sociological analysis of worldwide Pentecostalism.
Blackwell Publishers Inc., 350 Main Street, Malden, MA, 02148, 197 pages, $24.95.
—Reviewed by Nicholas A. Venditti, co-international director of INSTE (Institute of Theology by Extension).
In any class on missions, the instructor normally would emphasize the importance of what I call the BIG C (context). David Martin, a recognized expert on the Latin American Pentecostal movement, has extended his vision to a global perspective. The context for Martin is the world. The subject is the impact of Pentecostalism as a movement in a relatively short amount of time, about a century.
The book gives a detailed sociological analysis of worldwide Pentecostalism. As he did in his previous book, Tongues of Fire, Martin cites authors and trends of Pentecostalism but now in various parts of the world.
The first two chapters are quite theoretical and set the tone for the rest of the work. From chapter three to the end of the book, the author develops his argument about the influence of Pentecostalism and the distinctive characteristics of its expansion especially at a grass roots level. Martin emphasizes the importance of lay leadership in the Pentecostal movement. Issues such as healing, economic and political globalization, urban transition and a special appeal to women are viewed as part of the major values of Pentecostalism as a whole. However, the author does not have a one-size-fits-all mentality. He demonstrates the importance of the adaptability of Pentecostalism to a variety of lands and cultures.
Pentecostalism embraces certain forms of modernity such as the use of contemporary music and national worship styles as it becomes a religion of the people. In other words, Pentecostalism has been able to indigenize the message of the gospel to the world. Martin observes that the underdeveloped nations are sending missionaries to the once sending nations of the developed world. Pentecostalism has taken root in the southern hemisphere. The strength of the book is that it is sympathetic but not uncritical.
The bibliography and footnotes are rich resources for anyone who desires to work with Pentecostals. He has achieved his goal of proving the worldwide impact of a movement that had its humble beginnings at the beginning of the 20th century.
Check these titles:
Besancon-Spencer, Aida and William D. Spencer, eds. 1998. The Global God: Multicultural Evangelical Views of God. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker.
Dempster, Murray, Byron Klaus and Douglas Petersen, eds. 1991. Called & Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson.
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