THE VISION OF THE DISINHERITED: The Making of American Pentecostalism by Robert Mapes Anderson

THE VISION OF THE DISINHERITED: The Making of American Pentecostalism

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Splendid scholarly history. American Pentecostalism currently numbers over two million followers, belonging to some 150 separate churches, not to mention the countless other Christians who have lately adopted Pentecostal practices without leaving their denominations. But even as the movement gains in general acceptance and middle-class respectability, the facts of its grimy, poverty-stricken origins seem to be slipping into oblivion, and Anderson (professor of history at Wagner College) has done a fine job of weaving them together into an absorbing and highly ironic story. Practically everyone agrees that Pentecostalism first appeared on the scene in 1906, at a Los Angeles revival where speaking in tongues (glossolalia) came to be recognized as the sign of a second Pentecost. Anderson delves into the background and recounts the adventures of this critical first generation of Pentecostalists, traces their roots back through the Wesleyan Holiness movement all the way to the primitive Church, and then chronicles the bewildering pattern of schisms that split the group from the very start. The great irony of Pentecostalism is that it provided spiritual asylum for the ""disinherited"" (uprooted farmers, unskilled workers, and other desperate proletarians), but, instead of marshaling their energies against the forces of oppression, it transformed them into stalwart, reactionary supporters of the status quo. Anderson describes this fascinating process with more charts and statistics than the general reader will think necessary. He frequently skimps on biographical detail (e.g., the homosexual career of the ""founder"" of Pentecostalism, Charles F. Parham) in favor of discussions of doctrinal squabbles. But his book is rich in theological and political insight--a major contribution.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1979
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press