Pentecostalism in America

Pentecostalism in America

Pentecostalism in America

Pentecostalism in America


Pentecostalism is a poorly understood theological movement, despite its recent growth in popularity as well as social and political importance. More and more Americans are encountering neighbors, friends, coworkers, and even political leaders who are aligned with one of the many varieties of American Pentecostalism. In spite of this proliferation, no complete survey of 2lst-century American Pentecostalism exists.

In Pentecostalism in America, author R. G. Robins offers an accessible survey of Pentecostalism in the United States, providing a clear, nontechnical introduction and making this complex and rapidly changing movement comprehensible to the general reader. A historical approach to the topic is presented, guiding the reader through the theological, social, and liturgical variants within American Pentecostalism and its major branches, organizations, and institutions; the movement's relation to its offspring; as well as how Pentecostal groups compare to parallel movements in contemporary American Christianity.


Most of what a historian writes, I’ve heard it said, is autobiographical. In this case at least, the adage is true, and readers might be edified or perhaps forewarned by a brief accounting of the fact. I’m an ex-holy roller and I make no bones about it.

I literally cut my teeth on the pews of the First Pentecostal Church of God of Union Bower, Texas, where my father had been installed as pastor two years before I was born, and where he remained for the rest of his working life; my earliest memories include the savory sensation of biting through the bittersweet skin of varnish on our rounded pew tops to hit solid wood beneath. Union Bower—in the days before Irving, made ravenous by suburbanization, swallowed it up—was a hardscrabble neighborhood where dogs ran free and the Johnson grass went uncut. If there had been railroad tracks in our vicinity, Union Bower would have been on the wrong side of them.

I have many recollections of what became Irving First, but all of them are enveloped in something deeper still: a remembered atmosphere of humid air stirred by pulsing music loud enough to feel, an invisible blanket of liquid decibels. Growing up Pentecostal then was not like it is now. Well into the 1960s, the Pentecostal Church of God resisted the acculturation that I describe in the book, and ours was a “shouting” church, a tightly boundaried community that carried its ecstasies deep into the night.

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