Themes on Charismatic Renewal

Written by Hummel, Poewe, Ruthven, et al. Reviewed By Stephen N. Williams

Books continue to pour out on the theme of charismatic renewal. Charles Hummel offers a new edition of Fire in the Fireplace: Charismatic Renewal in the Nineties (IVP, 1993, 317 pp.) which includes useful appendices, including statistics on the world’s religious and denominational population as they stood in 1992. These show the enormous prevalence of charismatic Christianity. In Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, several scholars in the areas of religion and anthropology try to analyse this phenomenon under the editorship of Karla Poewe (University of South Carolina, 1994, 300 pp.). It is an attempt to place charismatic experience within an academic framework. A particularly rigorous essay On the Cessation of the Charismata: the Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles (Sheffield Academic Press, 1993, 271 pp.) by Jon Ruthven is a contribution to the new Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series. It is perhaps the best available critique of the ‘cessationist’ position and pays special attention to the work of B.B. Warfield. The same press published theological papers from the Brighton Conference on World Evangelization, which took place in 1991, under the title All Together in One Place, eds. Harold Hunter and Peter Hocken (1933, 281 pp.). It contains an introductory word by the Archbishop of Canterbury on ‘The Importance of Theology for the Charismatic Movement’ and contributors include Jurgen Moltmann and Clark Pinnock. Finally, J.-J. Suurmond has written Word and Spirit at Play: towards a Charismatic Theology (SCM, 1994, 244 pp.). It gives an indication of how many theological possibilities are open to ‘charismatic’ theology by the distinctive approach that it adopts.

We draw attention to three Latimer Studies that have appeared relatively recently. David A. Scott tries to persuade evangelical Anglicans to pay serious heed to the 17th-century Anglican divine, Jeremy Taylor, in his Christian Character: Jeremy Taylor and Christian Ethics Today (1991, 62 pp.). In Liberal Catholicism: Charles Gore and the Question of Authority, G.F. Grimes takes us to the 19th-century to examine how Gore struggled with the relation of freedom of conscience and ecclesiastical authority (1992, 39 pp.). Finally, V.C. Miller examines and seeks to relate to our present situation the predestinarian controversies of 16th-century England by a study of The Lambeth Articles: Doctrinal Development and Conflict in Sixteenth Century England (1994, 99 pp.). All are published by Latimer House in Oxford.

From the pen of Wilfred Cantwell Smith, we have What is Scripture? A Comparative Approach (Fortress, 1993, 381 pp.). The author is one of the leading thinkers in the field of Religious Studies. It will rank as an important study of the concept of Scripture from a ‘radical’ theological perspective.

Sally McFague’s book Models of God drew quite a lot of attention some years ago. Now she has written The Body of God: an Ecological Theology (Fortress, 1993, 274 pp.). It is an attempt to think through an organic relationship between God and world which continues in the tradition of breaking with an older view of God as transcendent and wholly other than the world, seeking to address several particular pressing social issues.

Stephen N. Williams

Stephen Williams is professor of systematic theology at Union Theological College in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and served as general editor of Themelios from 1995 to 1999.