Book Review: Pentecostal Outpourings

May 16, 2016 | by Pastor Jim Harrison

Review: Pentecostal Outpourings: Revival and the Reformed Tradition

Robert Davis Smart, Michael A.G. Hakin, Ian Hugh Clary, editors

Reformation Heritage Books, February, 2016

To the writing of books on revival, there will be no end. Why, then, would yet another be necessary? This is a good and necessary question. Unfortunately, most of what has been written concerning revival is written from the perspective of “Revivalism”. That is, from the perspective of a particular movement and tradition arising out of what has come to be called the Second Great Awakening, and following the teaching and example of Charles Finney.

This is regrettable. Though it is not the focus of this review, suffice it to say that Finney and the revivalism that flows from is teaching and ministry, is not grounded in either Scripture nor sound doctrine. There is much evidence in Finney’s own writings which lead one to conclude that he was, in fact, Pelagian in his theology.

But it is precisely the pervasiveness within the Evangelical world of Finney’s understanding of revival as a result of the efforts and strategies of man which makes the volume under review so necessary, and so helpful. For there is a great chasm which lies between Revivalism and the genuine, Spirit wrought work of revival.

Pentecostal Outpourings provides a readable and encouraging account of genuine times of revival brought about not by the programs of men, but by the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit of God. Beginning with the work of God among the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, (Yes, there were and are calvinistic Methodists), this collection of essays provides moving and entertaining accounts of genuine revival, arising out of prayer and the preaching of the Word of God, which arose in both the United Kingdom and America.

Pentecostal Outpourings consists of a series of essays written by some of the leading lights of contemporary, reformed, evangelicalism, such as Joel Beeke, Iain D. Campbell, Tom Nettles, and Michael Haykin, among others, each chapter dealing with one particular instance of revival in the history of post-reformation, reformed Christianity, or with various historical understandings of revival within the reformed tradition.

Pentecostal Outpourings is a welcome and helpful corrective to much of what has been written about revival. Readable, yet scholarly, it provides a rational, biblical, and theologically sound understanding of how God has revived His church in the past, and how we might expect Him to work in the future.

*A review copy of Pentecostal Outpourings was provided by the Cross Focused Reviews.  All opinions are my own.

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