Signs and WondersWhy Pentecostalism Is the World's Fastest Growing Faith
Combining personal stories and sound scholarship, Paul Alexander, a young scholar with a Pentecostal background, examines the phenomenal worldwide success of Pentecostalism. While most other works on the subject are either for academics or believers, this book speaks to a broader audience. Interweaving stories of his own and his family's experiences with an account of Pentecostalism's history and tenets, Alexander provides a unique and accessible perspective on the movement.
Foreword vii Acknowledgments xiii CHAPTER 1 Just Ask: A World of Miracles Awaits 1 CHAPTER 2 Worship and Music 19 CHAPTER 3 Tongue-Talking 41 CHAPTER 4 Prosperity (or Money, Money, Money, Money) 61 CHAPTER 5 Storytelling 79 CHAPTER 6 Power and Spiritual Warfare 95 CHAPTER 7 Prophecy, Visions, and Dreams 115 CHAPTER 8 Hope, Joy, and Emotion 131 Notes 151 The Author 167 Index 169
Paul Alexander is the founder of Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice, a multiethnic, international, and ecumenical network of pastors, laypeople, academics, missionaries, and students. He teaches at Azusa Pacific University.
Recent surveys reveal that ever-increasing numbers of the faithful are attracted to the Pentecostal movement. While in the United States the popularity of this religious movement is strong, the global appeal of Pentecostalism has been nothing short of extraordinary. What accounts for the fact that Pentecostalism is the fastest growing religious movement in the world? Drawing on Paul Alexander's scholarly work, religious upbringing, and rich personal experience in Guatemala, Venezuela, Mexico, Malta, Palestine/Israel, Belgium, India, and the United States, Signs and Wonders offers a compelling view of the amazing growth and power of the worldwide Pentecostal movement. As Alexander explains, Pentecostalism is attractive to seekers on many levels—the lively services, the mystery of tongue talking, the promise of prosperity, and the draw of hope and joy. Pentecostalism is open to prophecy, dreams, and visions. Pentecostals believe that dreams and visions are ways that God can speak directly to human beings. These beliefs hold great appeal for the millions of people who take comfort in hearing God's voice when life gets difficult. Pentecostals live in a world where God is close enough to talk to and can be appealed to for miracles of all kinds—from curing warts to keeping an eighteen wheeler from crushing a mini-van. The Pentecostal view of prosperity through faith has great allure for those living the American dream and for those who dwell in abject poverty. As one pastor put it "God wants you to prosper. You don't have to wait. You don't have to be tied down by your circumstances." Signs and Wonders offers a unique view of the Pentecostal movement from Paul Alexander who has been both an insider and an outsider to the faith.
Praise for Signs & Wonders "I urge the reading of Paul Alexander's Signs and Wonders as a second-best introduction to Pentecostalism, the first being 'being there.' He offers a clear narrative line, issues helpful explanations, and gives something of the experience one recognizes at Pentecostal events or in Pentecostal ventures." —From the Foreword by Martin E. Marty Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago and an ordained Lutheran minister "When I teach about religion in the current world situation the most frequent question I get is 'But why is Pentecostalism growing so quickly and in so many places?' I try to explain, but after reading this book my answer can now be much more complete and well grounded. This is the book that answers that question. It is fair, accurate, balanced, and written in an accessible style. No one seriously interested in the fastest growing Christian movement in the world can afford to miss it." —Harvey Cox Harvard Divinity School and author, Fire From Heaven
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