Wacker is in a strong position to make this argument. He was raised as a Pentecostal and still calls Pentecostals "my people," though he now identifies himself "simply as an evangelical Christian." He's also a Stanford- and Harvard-educated scholar who teaches American religious history at Duke. His ear is trained for the concerns that both his subjects and his peers might raise.
For example, his chapter on worship begins with the acknowledgement that early Pentecostals would have had little to say on the topic, because "in their minds worship was something one did, not something one theorized about. After all, had not the Holy Spirit delivered them from all that Romish nonsense?" Anticipating the complaints of his colleagues, Wacker often introduces items of evidence with the phrase "chosen virtually at random" to blunt accusations of proof-texting—letting his conclusions rule the data, rather than the other way around.
Wacker should not be accused of slighting his data. He follows the scholarly convention of throwing heaps of evidence (and footnotes) at his topic, but rather than clogging up the book, this source material is its beating heart. Details introduce figures from Pentecostalism's early days (1900-1925) in all their colorful passion—evangelist ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more