Thursday, December 24, 2009

REVIEW: Pentecost Revisited by R. Glenn Brown

Dallas/Ft Worth, TX—Few topics have divided the 20th century evangelical church as deeply as the study of speaking in tongues. According to Pentecostal doctrine and tradition, the manifestation of tongues is a necessary evidence to confirm the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Among other evangelicals, the gift of tongues ceased when the last apostle died. In some churches—and even some seminary classrooms—discussions about tongues are taboo.

Author Glenn Brown has been an ordained Assemblies of God minister for over fifty years. A retired Navy chaplain, he served in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marines before pastoring churches for eighteen years. In his new book, Pentecost Revisited, Brown takes a fresh look at both the Pentecostal view and the opposing views of tongues, searching the Scriptures to resolve the conflict. His conclusion: the doctrines and traditions on both extremes of the debate are scripturally inaccurate, and both groups are missing God’s true purpose for speaking in tongues, as revealed in the Bible.

“God’s gift of tongues was designed to bring divergent people groups together in a common purpose and love for each other. The outpouring of the Spirit accompanied by tongues conveyed a sign to early Jewish Christians who did not believe that certain groups could be included in the church without submitting to Mosaic rites. This sort of racial bias was true in both the first century and the twentieth,” Brown says. “I believe the unifying purpose for the gift of tongues is clearly laid out in the book of Acts. The early church comprised of Jewish believers was persuaded to accept the Samaritans, the Gentiles, and the polyglot society of Ephesus into the church because they heard new believers speak in tongues just like the one hundred twenty had in the upper room. Tongues were God’s sign that He would not tolerate racism in His family. What a shame, then, that a gift God intended for the unification of His church has been distorted and has become a source of such division.”

Pentecost Revisited takes on several fundamental questions surrounding the tongues debate including:

· Are supernatural events possible?

· Are miracles and gifts of the Spirit limited to the apostolic age, or are they still present today?

· Must the baptism of the Holy Spirit be initially accompanied by tongues?

· Why is there ongoing division between Pentecostals and other evangelicals?

· Why is it easier to change doctrine than to change tradition?

With over five decades of ministry under his belt and degrees from both Denver Seminary and Princeton Seminary, Brown clearly articulates his doctrinal differences with both the Assemblies of God church and the cessasionists (those who believe the gift of tongues is not offered to the modern church) and, with heartfelt conviction, presents a scriptural alternative. The book also offers a brief history lesson concerning the Pentecostal movement, focusing particularly on the 1906 Azusa Street revival, a time when Brown believes the gift of tongues temporarily accomplished its intended purpose of unifying the church across racial lines. Pentecost Revisited delves unflinchingly into a topic often ignored by a squeamish American church—the prevalence of racism within our church body.

“I believe now is the time for all Christians to reexamine their traditional doctrines of the outpouring of tongues,” Brown says. “When the scriptural stance is correctly understood, this powerful gift can reverse Babel and help unite the body of Christ around the world.”

Here is my review of this encouraging and inspiring read:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to R. Glenn Brown and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Pentecost Revisited" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am trying to improve at being consistent in taking the time to thank these wonderfully giving individuals in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.

R. Glenn Brown’s “Pentecost Revisited” is an enlightening read. As a Christian with a Pentecostal background, I don’t find the beliefs of the Pentecostal church to be foreign. But I understand that these teachings, though Biblical, are controversial to other Christian denominations, although I fail at times to comprehend why that is the case. This book does exactly what its title says, revisits Pentecost. Concentrating on the birth of the Christian church through the falling of the Holy Spirit upon mankind, Glenn Brown opens the reader’s eyes to the power of the least known member of the Trinity and awakens us to the knowledge that He is alive and well in today’s world!

This is an outstanding book that can be enjoyed by and beneficial to Christians of any denomination. Frank discussions of spiritual gifts, baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues are prominent in this text, and although I have a strong belief in these subjects, I was intrigued by Brown’s point of view. However, due to the controversial views of these topics, this may not be the greatest book for a discussion group. Still I would recommend it for individual reading.

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