E. W. Kenyon: Cult Founder or Evangelical Minister?, by Geir Lie. Oslo, Norway: Refleks Publishing, 2003.
To some people, just the mention of E. W. Kenyon brings about a level of controversy concerning the roots of his theology. Kenyon really didn’t receive much public recognition until Daniel McConnell’s book, A Different Gospel, was published in 1988. In McConnell’s book, Kenyon’s theology is presumably linked to Christian Science, New Thought, and Unitarian ideas. McConnell’s book, in many ways, brought Kenyon’s suspicious dealings with cultic groups and ideas to a national, even popular level. But there is a lot more to be said of Kenyon before an irrefutable conclusion can be made. There is no doubt that E. W. Kenyon has had a great impact on the Pentecostal movement, and yet that influence on some may have been a controversial one.
One leader he influenced was Kenneth Hagin, whose work in the Word-Faith movement has impacted many areas of Pentecostalism. Reaching back even further to Kenyon’s time, he had a big influence on people like William Durham, F. F. Bosworth, and Aimee Semple McPherson, to name a few. Kenyon’s influence on the Pentecostal movement was far-reaching. Since Kenyon indeed has had a major impact on the Pentecostal church, further research into the origins of his theology is very important.
In Geir Lie’s book, he goes into great detail concerning Kenyon’s presumable “connection” with Christian Science and cultic ideas. The book is divided into 5 different parts. The first section deals with the life of E. W. Kenyon. Geir does a very good job digging into the elusive early life of Kenyon. He goes into detail concerning Kenyon’s early Christian experience to his critical time where he attended Emerson College. He also focuses on what Kenyon actually believed concerning God, Satan, the incarnation, and the Word. He then dives into the historical roots of Kenyon’s theology. In this part of the book, he goes into detail concerning the different possible movements that may have influenced Kenyon. The book finishes by dealing with the influence that Kenyon has had on the American Pentecostal movement and abroad.
Geir Lie’s book gives a great counter-balance to McConnell’s book. The background that Geir comes from, in which he goes into great detail concerning Kenyon’s background in the introduction, is an essential part of the book. Geir was directly influenced by the teachings of Kenyon, and he has even translated several of Kenyon’s books. Because of his own background, Geir is able to give the reader a unique perspective into the life and influence of E. W. Kenyon. The research he has done on the subject is immense and is evident throughout the book.
In conclusion, E. W. Kenyon: Cult Founder or Evangelical Minister?, is a must read for anyone who is serious with studying the roots of the modern-day faith teaching. With all the controversy surrounding Kenyon, his connection with the modern Pentecostal movement, and the fairly recent books published concerning Kenyon’s theological roots, this book is a valuable piece of the complicated puzzle surrounding the life of E. W. Kenyon.
Reviewed by Gary Larsen, Evangel University student
Paperback, 192 pages. $25.00, plus $3.50 shipping. Order from: Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, 1445 N. Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65802; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Ph. 1-877-840-5200.