The Spirit in the World: Emerging Pentecostal Theologies in Global Contexts

by Veli-Matti Karkkainen, ed.

The Spirit in the World is an outgrowth of an international symposium titled “Spirit in the World: The Dynamics of Pentecostal Growth and Experience.”

William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2140 Oak Industrial Drive, N.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49505, 248 pages, 2009, $20.00.

Reviewed by Grant McClung, president of; missiological advisor for World Missions Commission of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.

The Spirit in the World is an outgrowth of an international symposium titled “Spirit in the World: The Dynamics of Pentecostal Growth and Experience,” held in October 2006 at the University of Southern California (USC Los Angeles), hosted by the Center for Religion and Civic Culture of USC and sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation (also sponsors of the book project). The symposium gathered scholars from around the world to discuss the implications of Pentecostal growth worldwide, including the “Ten Country Survey of Global Pentecostalism” by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life” (published at

Two specific book projects were suggested as outcomes from the symposium—one focusing on the social, political, and economic growth of Pentecostalism—and this volume, concentrating on theological issues. Karkkainen asserts that, “While the stated focus of the present book is constructive theology, many of the writers also engage theological reflection from an interdisciplinary perspective, in keeping with the diverse nature of the Pentecostal experience and phenomena” (p. xix). Although Karkkainen (a native of Finland) is professor of systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary and docent of ecumenics at the University of Helsinki, he has gathered an impressive array of contributors whose essays engage sociological, cultural, historical, missiological, and religious studies from a theological perspective.  

The twelve chapters are divided evenly by presenters from the Majority World and the West.  They represent four continents, men and women, and different Pentecostal traditions.  Thematically, the volume is divided into three main sections: (1) “The Spirit among the People”: Pentecostal Theology and Spiritual (em)Power(ment); (2) “The Spirit among Cultures”: Pentecostal Theology and Cultural Diversity;  and (3) “The Spirit among Religions”: Pentecostal Theology and Religious Plurality.

This informative anthology offers an interdisciplinary, diverse, and global interaction from a dynamic movement of world evangelization and demonstrates that its adherents are seeking constructive dialogue with the theological academy and making their own contribution to the expansion of an evangelical theology of mission.

Unfortunately, only two of the twelve chapters are specifically written from a missiological perspective (from Asia and Latin America). It would have been useful to have more updated footnoting and bibliographical references to more recent published works on Pentecostal missiology. Yet the volume will be useful as a supplementary textbook in courses on theology of mission, non-Christian religions, cultural diversity, and Pentecostal missiology.


EMQ, Vol. 46, No. 3, pp. 381-382. Copyright  © 2010 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.


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