Freikirchliche Pfingstbewegung in Deutschland: Innenansichten 1945-1985 (Pentecostal Free Churches in Germany: Inside Story, 1945-1985), by Ludwig David Eisenlöffel. Kirche–Konfession–Religion Band 50. Göttingen, Germany: V&R Unipress, 2006.
Freikirchliche Pfingstbewegung in Deutschland: Innenansichten 1945-1985, an important study of the evolution of the Pentecostal movement in Germany, is one of the latest additions to the prestigious Kirche-Konfession-Religion series produced by Konfessionskundliches Institut des Evangelischen Bundes and Evangelischer Zentralstelle für Weltanschauungsfragen. Portions of the publication originally were submitted as the author’s doctoral work at Life Christian University in Tampa, Florida, which was completed in 2004.
The author, Ludwig Eisenlöffel, served as longtime director of the Beröa Bible School and Theological Seminary (an institution associated with the Bund Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden, a German denomination which works with the Assemblies of God) and also was managing director of the Forums Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden (FFP). Furthermore, he has a considerable history with the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Christengemeinden (ACD), which was renamed Bund Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden (BFP) in 1982.
This volume describes the development of the Freikirchliche Pfingstbewegung (Pentecostal Free Churches) in Germany between 1945 and 1985. The Freikirchliche Pfingstbewegung represent a second phase of development within German Pentecostalism, influenced by British, Scandinavian, and American Pentecostalism. The first phase included homegrown varieties of Pentecostalism such as the Mülheimer Verband, which did not teach that glossolalia was the initial evidence of Spirit baptism. The author pays special attention to the history and the development of the ACD and the BFP, the largest Freikirchliche Pfingstbewegung organization.
Eisenlöffel reports on the emerging contacts and dialogue among different Pentecostal groups in the postwar period, on their cooperation in the ACD, and on the establishment of the Beröa Bible school with the aid the American Assemblies of God. He also informs readers of the theological discussions at the Brüdertage [Brother Days] and the BFP conferences, as well as the inter-church discussions with the Innerkirchliche Charismatische Bewegung (ICB) [Intra-church Charismatic Movement], the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen (ACK) [Working Group of Christian Churches], the Deutsche Evangelische Allianz (DEA) [German Evangelical Alliance], the Vereinigung Evangelischer Freikirchen (VEF) [Union of Evangelical Free Churches], and the Forum Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden (FFP) [Forum of Free Pentecostal Churches].
Since Eisenlöffel personally participated as an eyewitness in these discussions and was a representative of the Free Pentecostal Churches during their reorganization in the early 1980s, his remarks are of inestimable historical importance. However, in addition to these personal experiences and memories, further important sources (letters, minutes, etc.) from various archives are woven into Eisenlöffel’s narrative.
Everyone interested in the history of the Pentecostal churches in Germany from 1945 to 1985, in the emergence of the FFP, as well as in the interchurch discussions among the Pentecostal churches with other church groups, will find an abundance of important eyewitness information in this book.
Reviewed by Paul Schmidgall, President of European Theological Seminary