Arlene M. Sánchez Walsh
Pentecostals in America
Columbia University Press 2018
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network November 8, 2018 Lilian Calles Barger
Arlene M. Sánchez Walsh‘s Pentecostals in America (Columbia University Press, 2018) offers a critical look at the history, key figures, and ideas that make Pentecostalism unique and challenges the narrative gloss offered by its adherents and church historians. She surveys the often contentious history of the movement, including its innovators at odds with founding figures, practices of speaking in tongues, faith healing and prophesy, and attitudes toward race, sex, and gender. The significant participation of African Americans and the adoption of their religious expression did not heal racial divisions. Walsh explores the innovative theologies and ministries of founders such as Aimee Semple McPherson and John Alexander Dowie. Seeing itself as the last great move of God, Pentecostals rejected mainstream culture yet found ways to accommodate modern media and produced stars such as Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye, Joel Osteen, and Joyce Meyer. In process of continual reinvention, Pentecostals built churches, institutions, and missionary efforts marked by its unique religiosity and continued to struggle with race, gender and sexuality. Pentecostalism can be best understood as a multifarious religious movement that has spread among diverse ethnic groups, made inroads into other Christian denominations, traveled to the far reaches of the globe, and its stories of divine interventions fire the religious imagination of many. While other religious groups are in decline, it continues to grow at home and abroad.
Arlene M. Sánchez Walsh is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Azusa Pacific University
Lilian Calles Barger is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her book is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology, Oxford University Press, 2018.