Book Review – Pentecostal Outpourings
Pentecostal Outpourings is a book published by Reformation Heritage Books in which eight contributors examine various revival outpourings of the Holy Spirit within the Reformed tradition. To many people the categories of ‘Holy Spirit revivals’ and ‘Reformed’ seem to be diametrically opposed to one another. When we think of the Holy Spirit in the context of revivals we don’t typically conjure up images of a Dutch Reformed or Presbyterian church service. However, as the contributors demonstrate, there is a rich history of the Spirit calling men and women to repentance in Christ. Most are familiar with the First Great Awakening of the 18th century. Some will even acknowledge the influence of Jonathon Edwards in the early years of the awakening. However, very few seem to link the Reformed heritage of Edwards to the revival itself, choosing instead to focus on Whitefield and his association with Methodism. However, unlike Wesley, Whitefield was a firm believer in the sovereignty of God in salvation and the revivals of the Calvinistic Methodists are covered in this book as well. However, the history of revival in the Reformed tradition neither begins nor ends with the Great Awakening. The history of the Reformed denominations has been marked with outpourings of the Spirit. Pentecostal Outpourings recaptures this rich history in an easy to follow and thought provoking way.
Pentecostal Outpourings is divided into two parts: Part 1 recounts the history of Reformed revivals in the British Isles. It touches on the Calvinistic Methodists, the Irish revivals such as the Six Mile Water Revival, the Calvinistic Baptist revivals and the outpouring of the Spirit on the Scottish Presbyterians. Part 2 is dedicated to the Reformed revivals in America including American Presbyterianism, the Congregationalist revivals, the American Calvinistic Baptists, and the Dutch Reformed revivals in the 18th century. These are followed by a chapter in which Editor Robert Davis Smart calls on us to seek God for revival in our own time.
I had a very difficult time putting Pentecostal Outpourings down as I was reading it. In reading it, I was impressed with the fact that true revivals begin and end by God’s providence and are completely absorbed with God. This stands in stark contrast to the more popular notion of revival promoted by modern preachers in which the focus is on a personal experience and sensationalism which elevate the human experience above repentance and worship of God. I will definitely return to this book again and again because the call is not one of revival for revival’s sake … but rather, revival for the glorification of God and manifestation of His kingdom.
Pentecostal Outpourings will make a great addition to a high school homeschooling curriculum and can neatly work as a history or theology section in your child’s study. It is also appropriate for anyone who has an interest in the history of the Reformed tradition or revivalism. I can’t think of a better book on the subject to include in a church library and pastors will appreciate the congregation’s interest in revival without having to worry about the theology that typically undergirds other works on the subject.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Reformation Heritage Books in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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