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Spirit and Power: The Growth and Global Impact of Pentecostalism
Oxford University Press, 2013
432 pp., $33.95
Christian Higher Education: A Global Reconnaissance
360 pp., $36.00
Candy Gunther Brown
Spirit, Power, and Understanding
Comparative research on world Christianity has proliferated in recent years. Two new edited volumes, Spirit and Power and Christian Higher Education, are welcome additions to this literature. The two books reflect the poles of the long-standing Christian balancing act of praying and worshipping with both "spirit" and "understanding" (1 Cor. 14:15). That each collection focuses on one of these goals reflects the difficulty of fully integrating heart and mind. The tone of the former volume is more optimistic than that of the latter. This difference may suggest that Christianity's prospects are stronger where the tension between spirit and understanding resolves in the direction of spirit.
Spirit and Power is primarily a narrative of growth, as reflected in the subtitle: The Growth and Global Impact of Pentecostalism. The book is organized thematically, using particular regions and countries as examples. The contents are weighted towards Latin America, with moderate consideration of Africa and Asia but little attention to North America, Europe, or Oceania. The collection begins with the historical origins of missionary expansion; seeks sociological explanations of Pentecostal growth; probes connections between Pentecostalism and politics, social engagement, transnational networks, gender, and power; and concludes with a contemporary global perspective informed by large-scale quantitative research. Section introductions clearly and concisely articulate the contributions of the following chapters and their relationship with each other and the section theme, as well as provide a narrative arc for the volume as a whole. The editors recruited a number of the foremost experts in their particular fields; the resulting book brings together in-depth case studies with broader reflections on the origins, engines, and trajectories of Pentecostal growth. Many of the insights reported are already familiar to scholars of Pentecostalism. This is in part because ...