The title Pentecostal Outpourings may be a little misleading at first glance. It’s definitely a lot more provocative than Revival and the Reformed Tradition (the book’s subtitle). If anything, confusion over the title reveals our association of the word “Pentecostal” with things that often have little or no connection to events described in the Bible.
The movement of God in bringing large groups of people to faith and stirring up his people to love and live for him could be accurately described as a revival or a “Pentecostal outpouring.” Such movements have occurred in reformed groups, and this book focuses on such occurrences in the 18th and 19th centuries. Section one looks at revivals in the British Isles, and section two covers revivals in North America.
Anthologies have pros and cons. The use of multiple authors who’ve each spent considerable time studying and researching their topic makes the book better and broader in scope than it could be had it been written by just one person. No amount of editing, however, can make for a seamless read from cover to cover, so some chapters are definitely better written than others. I enjoyed most of the chapters, but by far the most interesting to me were chapters 2, 3, 5, and 6. I’ve discovered that virtually anything written by Michael Haykin is both interesting and well written. He specializes in Baptist history, and he always captures my interest and makes reading him a pleasure, not a chore. Ian Hugh Clary’s contribution on revival in Ireland matched Haykin as a joy to read. Robert Smart’s and Peter Beck’s contributions on the First and Second Great Awakenings kept my interest, though it’s not hard to do so because I find the subject matter interesting regardless.
In all, I liked the book. It was encouraging to me as a reminder that God can and does move mightily in a society that seems apathetic or even hostile to the gospel. It moved me to pray for revival here and now, and any book that gets you doing that is a worthy read indeed.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.