New Book to consider: Initial Evidence

Gary B. McGee, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary’s Distinguished Professor of Church History and Pentecostal Studies has put out a new book that some may find interesting: (Dr. McGee is more or less the Assembly of God’s Church Historian, cf. People of the Spirit).

McGee, Gary B. (ed.) Initial Evidence: Historical and Biblical Perspectives on the Pentecostal Doctrine of Spirit Baptism. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008.

Here is Gordon Fee’s endorsement:

“This is a superb collection of articles on the central issue of Pentecostalism—speaking in tongues as the initial evidence for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The articles, written by both Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals, are historically informative, scholarly, irenic in spirit, ecumenical in treatment, and wide-ranging in interest. Here is an opportunity for both Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals to become better informed about Pentecostalism. While offering a solid defense of traditional Pentecostalism, the book also offers candid assessments that take a different view. This book should become a must for those who want to understand both historic and present-day Pentecostalism.” —Gordon D. Fee, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Regent College

But then there is this book. Perhaps both need to be read and considered?


23 responses to “New Book to consider: Initial Evidence

  1. I am trying to figure out how I could get them to send me a review copy being that Pentecostalism is one of the things I deal with on this blog. The second book argues against Initial Evidence. Dr McGee has a class this summer on Initial Evidence Doctrine this summer. I would be curious as to his response as to why he would not have students read both books and then work out the differences for and against and then tighten arguments for Initial Evidence doctrine.

  2. Brian,

    Have you considered to just start doing more book reviews on your site in general? I was looking through pages and pages for about a month or more and didn’t notice any and the one that seemed like it might have been a book review was not clearly marked as a book review. You might consider reviewing on your blog the books you already own and are reading through. It might also be a good idea to tag them as book reviews (by that I mean put them in a category for book reviews), state clearly in the titles that they are book reviews, maybe have a side bar listing book reviews that show that is something you do that is integral to this site and and even consider rating them. Maybe do some series and some extended interaction with some books. If nothing else it will at least show to publishers who are potentially thinking about sending you review copies that you aren’t in it just for the free books and that you are gonna review books regardless of whether you get them for free or not.

    And last the best reason to think about trying some of these ideas and just start reviewing the books you already have is that I would like to start reading some of your book reviews now and I don’t want to have to wait ’til you start getting them sent to you for free from publishers. ; )

    Anyway that’s just some thoughts. Basically I looked at some of the things that seemed to maybe work for Nick (the king of free books) and thought it might not be a bad idea to try them yourself. Plus I though of what might be going through the mind of publishers asking them selves whether it is a wise investment to send you free stuff. It doesn’t hurt to try.


  3. Brian: Wipf & Stock has an online request form that you can fill out. Try that for starters. And then you might want to also send off an email to James Stock, letting him know a little bit about yourself and your blog. His email is: James [at] wipfandstock [dot] com — It never hurts to start building relationships with the marketing people.

    Bryan: Yeah, I had a couple of reviews on the blog prior to receiving review copies, but I can’t tell you what worked for me because I honestly don’t know. I just sent out a bunch of emails asking, and some of them got back to me and said ‘yes.’

  4. i’m really actually quite interested in the second book you listed there. I come from a background which would never ever teach tongues from the pulpit, but many of the leadership do pray/speak in tongues. I myself do because of another ministry i was a part of later.

    i personally dont believe in a separate baptism of the holy spirit… but one time I was helping with an AOG church somewhere else and we felt like we were supposed to pray that everyone hadn’t yet, would start praying in tongues… God showed up, tons of people were “baptized with the holy spirit.” while i still dont understand/agree with the idea… i do see the Lord use it sometimes… i might look into it…

    anyhoo… thanks for the review eh?

  5. Okay, I went through and put together what reviews I have put up that I had not properly labeled and will add some from seminary just for fun, later. Check them out and let me know what you think of them and if they might work?

    Roger, thanks for commenting. I see what you are saying, but I have learned too that sometimes trying to say the Holy Spirit only works a certain way can get us in trouble if you know what I mean (take your case at the AG church you mentioned as an example). You may also be interesting in reading John Sherill’s book I posted before this one – he is not even Pentecostal – He’s Episcopalian and mentions Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterian, Reformed, Lutheran, Catholic, (the list goes on) ministers who have all received that Baptism and Speak in tongues. So that is something to think about.

    How is fatherhood coming along? Getting enough sleep?

  6. Brian, what do you think of Keener’s take n the issue in Gift and Giver. I like his compromise between the two views.

    I’ll check out the reviews. Hopefully you start getting some stuff soon. : )


  7. Bryan, I’ll have to look back over it – I think he had a mediating position in 3 Crucial Questions about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit – his mediating position is probably why he is American Baptist and not Assemblies of God – though he did his masters work at AGTS. The AG is pretty strict about IPE so those with a more mediating position may not feel comfortable with that.

  8. i know a lot of people who speak in tongues who aren’t pentecostal… me being one of them… but i dont consider it anything more than receiving a gift…that is… i dont see it as a seperate baptism… but… i dont understand the whole deal all that well to be honest… so…..

    i might be interested in that John Sherill

  9. Thanks for the comment Roger. You’re right that it is a gift. As to it being a separate baptism, the way the AG sees it is there is a baptism of the believer into the body of Christ at salvation but then the believer can be baptized into the Holy Spirit and that this baptism is a separate experience (logically, if not chronologically).

    I think it is more common for folks to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit after salvation and in some cases well after. At the present, sadly, less than 50% of attendees of AG churches nationwide have yet to receive Spirit Baptism (of which the AG believes speaking in tongues is the sign that the baptism has occured) or probably even really know what it is, or even had it explained to them in an effective manner.

  10. I’ve always explained it as there being a distinction between being baptized by the Holy Spirit (into the body, i.e., the ‘one baptism’ of Eph. 4:5 cf. 1Cor. 12:12) and being baptized with the Spirit (Mat. 3:11 cf. Acts 2:3-4). So my understanding has always been that believers receive the Spirit upon placing faith in Christ for salvation, but that there is a subsequent filling (or empowering) that comes after we are initially born again, and this is evidences (physically) by speaking in other tongues. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what the AG teaches.

  11. Didn’t Gordon Fee take on the AOG (which he is a part of) a long time ago over this issue? I’m pretty sure he disagrees with it but I think I heard him mention he wrote against that doctrine in a lecture. Do they still let you be in the AOG (and ordained) and disagree on this?

  12. Bryan, from what I have heard I think his difference is on the normative aspect – for the AG speaking in tongues as IPE of Spirit Baptism is both normal and normative (to be expected). I think Fee differs in that it is normal but not necessarily normative (to be expected). So, as to his retaining papers with the AG I am not sure what the deal is with that – maybe they are giving him slack. For many it is an integrity issue and if one differs even slightly or hesitates to agree with the wording then they argue as a matter of integrity one should either not sign on with the AG or let them run out or resign one’s papers. Kind of harsh in my opinion but tongues is one of the four cardinal doctrines one does not mess with so there is not a lot of flexibility.

    There are is seriously intense debate about this right now in AG circles – even more than I think in the past – many want to retain their papers in the AG and still have differences on this issue- others say you can’t do that and so on. Others want to think they can come into the AG and change things as though the AG should not be holding the position it does.

    Funny thing is people make more of an issue of an issue of tongues yet many AG pastors are not even close to agreement on the AG position regarding end-times – I think AG is pre-mill dispy – and many aren’t even close to that – many are more historic pre-mills or teetering on the edge of a-mill. Yet hardly anybpdy makes an issue of it. A bit contradictory imo.

  13. yea but every congregation/affiliation is that way. E.G. if you live in texas you pretty much have to be a dispensationalist, but there are a lot of other things they have grace for

    Calvinists care about the 5 points with their whole heart, but aren’t going to kill you if you’re pre-mill instead of a-mill…

    its just, if youre AG, you have to teach tongues because its essential to ya’lls doctrine… but eschatology doesn’t define yall… eschatology defines a DTS grad, but Sovereignty defines an RTS grad etc… different strokes for different folks… differing things flop different people’s mops etc…

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