Spreading Fires: The Missionary Nature of Early Pentecostalism

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Spreading Fires: The Missionary Nature of Early Pentecostalism. Allan Anderson. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2007. Pp. 312. Paperback $35.

Allan Anderson, director of the Graduate Institute for Theology and Religion and professor of Global Pentecostal Studies at the University of Birmingham in England, has provided the first major historical survey of early Pentecostal missions. No small accomplishment, it is based on the extensive use of available periodical literature and other primary sources. Spreading Fires-the title chosen to highlight the fervent revivalist spirit of Pentecostahsm-is divided into three parts: contexts and theological distinctives, expansion in the first two decades of the twentieth century, and theories and practices.

Anderson bills his analysis as a "corrective" to the flawed work of historians of Pentecostalism who "have often interpreted this history from a predominantly white American perspective, adding their own particular biases of denomination, ideology, race and gender" (p. 5). He therefore endeavors to include the contributions of Majority World Christians to the growth of the movement as much as possible, though the bulk of the book centers on the activities of North Atlantic missionaries. Rather than functioning as a corrective, however, it primarily increases our knowledge of Pentecostal missions, since the historiography of the enterprise is just now moving beyond its infancy. …