The Pentecostals: The Charismatic Movement in the Churches, by Walter J. Hollenweger (Augsburg, 1972, 572 pp., $9.95), is reviewed by Russell Spittler, chairman of the Division of Religion, Southern California College, Costa Mesa.

What distinguishes this analysis is its comprehensiveness and its competence. For ten years (1948–58) Walter Hollenweger served as an able evangelist in the Swiss Pentecostal Mission. His six years (1965–71) as secretary for evangelism in the World Council of Churches enabled him to make on-site evaluations of highly varied sectors of the Pentecostal movement throughout the world. Since 1971 he has had academic leisure as professor of mission at the University of Birmingham. No other current writer on Pentecostalism has quite this balance of experience.

Not merely a history, this work provides also a social analysis of the movement. Moreover, throughout Hollenweger engages theologically with the movement he discusses. There is a strong—and many classical Pentecostals will say, regrettably negative—personal note. Hollenweger’s overriding purpose in the work has been the literary incarnation of his own life mission: to introduce the Pentecostal movement and the ecumenical movement to each other. For that, he will be both praised and damned.

The work is a bibliographic cornucopia, with frequent reference in the notes to his multi-volumed 1966 Zürich dissertation “Handbook to the Pentecostal Movement.” The thirty-five-page bibliography is only a sampler of the larger thesis.

Hollenweger’s first-hand travels allow him to speak more thoroughly than, for example, John Nichol in the recent reprint The Pentecostals (Logos Books, 1971; still a handy introduction to the movement). His wide competence in European ...

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