Archive for October, 2016

Book Review by Andrew Williams: Scripting Pentecost: A Study of Pentecostals, Worship and Liturgy

Monday, October 10th, 2016 by Enoch Charles

Mark J. Cartledge and A.J. Swoboda, eds., Scripting Pentecost: A Study of Pentecostals, Worship and Liturgy. (London: Routledge, 2016). xi + 251 pp. Hardback, $149.95, ISBN: 9781472443274.

Contrary to common perception, a number of significant studies on Pentecostal and Charismatic liturgy and worship have already been completed. However, as the editors note, this study is unique in that the essays contained in this work focus on the nature of Pentecostal and Charismatic worship and liturgy from a theological viewpoint that provides both ‘breadth and depth’ (p. 3). Specifically, this volume focuses on liturgical rites and worshipping practices from historical, theological, and global perspectives.

The volume is organized into two main sections. The first section is comprised of four historical and three theological essays while the second section offers six global case studies. The thirteen chapters are written by a team of scholars that specialize in the field of Pentecostal and Charismatic studies. Therefore, Cartledge and Swoboda have gathered a group of qualified contributors on a wide range of issues including historical, constructive theological, and contemporary observed research that add to the current field of knowledge. The first four chapters cover various, relevant topics within Pentecostal and Charismatic worship and liturgy such as early Pentecostal preaching in North America (Leah Payne), parallelism between the Welsh and the Azusa Street revivals (Jennifer Miskov), classical Pentecostal liturgy (Aaron Friesen), and the emphasis on sung worship within Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity (Neil Hudson). Within the same section the attention shifts to constructive theological contributions of sung worship (Andy Lord), Pentecostal sacramentality and the altar (Wolfgang Vondey), and worshipping and living liturgically (Chris Green). The second section covers modern-day case studies spanning from North America (A.J. Swoboda), Europe (Anne Dyer), Kenya (Samuel Muindi), Myanmar (Denise Ross), Venezuela (Greg Burch), and Papua New Guinea (Sarita Gallagher). Each case study focuses on a particular topic within liturgy and worship that emerges from their own unique contexts.

Although scholars and students of Renewal studies might not look to purchase this volume for their personal library due to its high cost, they certainly should take time at some point to read its contents for two reasons in particular. First, the global case studies fulfill a great need in Renewal studies to move beyond European and North American contexts. This is a major strength of this volume, as it gives Western readers a window into how the majority of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians worship around the world and how their worship is shaping the global movement. Second, as Swoboda’s title suggests ‘God is doing something new’ in Pentecostal and Charismatic liturgy across the world, making this volume on the cutting edge of Renewal studies. Further, the frequent attention paid to the history of Pentecostalism as it relates to constructing Renewal theology makes this volume especially relevant to the field of scholarship. Nonetheless, in spite of these strengths and the overall robustness of the essays, I found myself wanting additional constructive theological contributions. Although I agree with the editors on the fact that the theological essays were informed by historical sources, the degree to which the contributors moved beyond them I believe warrants these three robust essays their own section within the volume, paired with at least one more contribution. The strength of the historical and contemporary research begs for additional theological constructions. However, this reproach notwithstanding, I believe this volume offers groundbreaking research postulating the necessity for Pentecostal and Charismatic contributions to worship and liturgical studies.

In my estimation, the editors were correct in saying that this work ‘complements and in some ways supplements what has gone before’ (p.10). Collectively, this volume pushes the borderline of knowledge and summons further investigation and evaluation. I highly recommend this edited collection for both scholars and students of Renewal studies, for it fills a gap in the existing scholarship by offering relevant and stimulating essays that open a new window into the world of global Pentecostal and Charismatic worship.

Andrew Ray Williams is a PhD Candidate at Bangor University, an ordained Foursquare pastor, and recent graduate of Regent University’s School of Divinity.