Review: Dictionary of Pentecostalism in Norway

Norsk Pinsekristendom og Karismatisk Fornyelse
Norsk pinsekristendom og karismatisk fornyelse: Ettbinds oppslagsverk (Norwegian Pentecostalism and Charismatic Renewal: One-Volume Dictionary), Geir Lie, editor. Oslo, Norway: REFLEKS-Publishing, 2007.

European Pentecostals are slated to gather in Oslo, Norway the week of September 18-23, 2007 to celebrate the centennial of the Pentecostal movement on that continent (see http://www.azusaeurope.etp.no).

What are the origins of Pentecostalism in Norway? The Azusa Street revival was one of the most prominent roots of European Pentecostalism. Word quickly spread around the world of the revival that began in 1906 at the small African-American gospel mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Thomas Ball Barratt, a Norwegian Methodist minister of British descent, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on November 15, 1906 while visiting New York. He returned to Norway, where he became that country’s leading Pentecostal expositor. The Pentecostal movement experienced burgeoning growth and, within several years, congregations had sprung up throughout the length of Norway. Barratt and his Filadelfia Church in Oslo were responsible for the spread of the Pentecostal movement to many regions of Europe. Barratt’s missiology — he viewed Pentecostalism as a global movement whose raison d’etre was missions — led hundreds of Norwegian missionaries to launch out across the globe. Today, Norway is home to approximately 300 Pentecostal congregations with 50,000 adherents and Europe has an estimated 4 million Pentecostal believers.

Just in time for the European Pentecostal centennial celebration, a historical dictionary of Pentecostalism in Norway has been published. Norsk pinsekristendom og karismatisk fornyelse, which has been years in the making, is an important achievement for several reasons. Norway was central to the story of Pentecostal origins in Scandinavia and Europe. Despite Norway’s prominence in Pentecostal history, the movement in that nation has produced few historians. This reference book provides ready access to information about the people, movements, organizations, and theological themes significant in Norwegian Pentecostalism but until now largely inaccessible. This volume is significant for those outside Norway because its energetic missions efforts have spanned the globe. In order to understand the varieties within the emerging global Pentecostal movement, it is important to understand the congregational polity, theological maturity, and missiological focus of these sturdy Norwegian believers.

Norsk pinsekristendom og karismatisk fornyelse contains approximately 350 articles authored by 21 scholars. Geir Lie, the book’s editor, wrote about half of the entries. One of the volume’s greatest strengths is its documentation of the movement’s breadth. This volume details the historical themes and people associated with the larger and historic classical Pentecostal groups such as De Frie Evangeliske Forsamlinger (Norway’s oldest Pentecostal denomination) and Pinsebevegelsen (the largest association of churches). Importantly, other smaller and newer groups also are included. Readers will find histories of the missions efforts of American denominations, such as Apostolic Faith Church (headquartered in Portland, Oregon, USA), Church of God (headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee, USA), International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and Association of Vineyard Congregations. Four non-Trinitarian (Oneness) Pentecostal groups are also featured: United Pentecostal Church International, Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, Nardus, and followers of evangelist William Marrion Branham. Parachurch organizations, such as Youth With a Mission, and the charismatic renewal within the Lutheran state church and the Catholic Church also warrant mention. The bulk of the book, however, is devoted to biographical sketches of leaders within Norwegian Pentecostalism.

Norsk pinsekristendom og karismatisk fornyelse is an important work for those who wish to better understand Norwegian Pentecostalism and its significant impact on the emerging Pentecostal movement worldwide. Pentecostal scholars and church leaders are indebted to the industrious editor, Geir Lie, whose efforts to document Pentecostalism in his corner of the world have produced this welcome addition to the REFLEKS book series. Norsk pinsekristendom og karismatisk fornyelse belongs in every university and seminary library.

Reviewed by Darrin J. Rodgers

Paperback, 197 pages, illustrated. Price: NOK 298 plus postage. Order from: REFLEKS-Publishing, Ravnkroken 60 G, N-1254 Oslo, Norway. Contact Geir Lie (geir@refleks-publishing.com) for additional information.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s