Review: Genuine gold in the early Christian and Missionary Alliance

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Genuine Gold: The Cautiously Charismatic Story of the Early Christian and Missionary Alliance, by Paul L. King. Tulsa, OK: Word & Spirit Press, 2006.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) has a rich and complex history that needs to be shared with all, and Paul L. King is just the author to do it. In his book, Genuine Gold, King lays out the history of the C&MA and its leaders. The Alliance struggled with its identity, whether it was charismatic, Pentecostal, or independent. The Alliance leaders had to respond to certain religious movements, including Azusa Street (1906-1909) and the Pentecostal Movement (1910-1919). The Alliance also had to deal with Pentecostal doctrines such as: visions, prophecies, tongues, holy laughter, and swooning.

Albert Benjamin Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, had to decide where the Alliance was going to stand on some of these issues. The Alliance had to decide if they were going to put emphasis on the moving of the Spirit, and whether they were going to be Pentecostal in doctrine or not. He and other Alliance leaders had to decide how the Alliance was going to respond and be impacted by the religious movements of the time. Doctrines and beliefs also had to be formulated.

Genuine Gold discusses all of these issues in depth. The book is divided into chronological sections, mapping out the history of the Alliance step-by-step. Each section contains several chapters that cover the time period with great detail and provide a balanced report. The author provides eyewitness accounts and personal anecdotes shared by leaders of the time. Each chapter is then broken down further, giving more clarity and fluidity to his writing.

King also makes it a point to remain in the middle of the road in his writing. His writing is not overtly charismatic, but neither is it non-charismatic. King exhibits both the good and the bad of the Alliance, giving the reader a chance to form his own opinions. The material is not “in your face,” but rather “handed to you on a silver platter.” It is presented in novel form, but has enough information to fill a college textbook. King did thorough research, digging deep through many sources and documenting his research.

Paul L. King defines genuine gold as, “… a church that is ‘cautiously charismatic’ or ‘charismatic without chaos’ — tongues and all gifts without controversy,” as A. B. Simpson envisioned the church. Simpson’s life’s work had a major impact on the Pentecostal belief system, and Genuine Gold provides Pentecostals with a chance to look back in history and see what impacted their doctrines and church operations. Every Christian should take the time to read Genuine Gold, because it will open eyes and impact beliefs.

Reviewed by Courtney Crowley, Evangel University student

Paperback, 336 pages. $22.99 retail. Order from Higher Life Ministries or amazon.com

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Filed under Reviews, Spirituality, Theology

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