Review: Life and thought of Howard Ervin

Pilgrimage into Pentecost

Pilgrimage into Pentecost: The Pneumatological Legacy of Howard M. Ervin, by Daniel D. Isgrigg. Tulsa, OK: Word & Spirit Press, 2008.

In Pilgrimage into Pentecost, Daniel D. Isgrigg provides serious students of Pentecostalism two useful services. First, he gives the reader an interesting and detailed accounting of the life of Howard M. Ervin; and second, he outlines the main contours of Ervin’s theology of the Holy Spirit.

The study follows the journey of Baptist preacher/theologian Ervin from his early day as an agnostic through his encounter with God. It traces Ervin’s early pastoral days, and follows him on to his embracing of the Pentecostal message and experience. Isgrigg follows the long tenure of Ervin as a theology faculty member at Oral Roberts University into his current life of retirement. Pilgrimage then points out Ervin’s strong exegetical and theological defense of the classical Pentecostal message of Baptism in the Holy Spirit, as well as his loyalty to his American Baptist roots. The work shows how Ervin engaged in a spirited defense of his theology against a variety of critics and how the unity of the Spirit among Christians was foremost in Ervin’s desires. Isgrigg makes a strong case for the ecumenical ministry of Ervin over the years.

Pilgrimage into Pentecost highlights several key features of Ervin’s theology: Ervin argues persuasively for the “birthday of the Church” being in John 20, not Acts 2. He anchors his belief in evidential tongues for Spirit baptism in the models provided in the Book of Acts; and he departs from most Pentecostal scholars in his advocacy of “one Baptism; one filling.” In each of these issues, the author documents Ervin’s line of argumentation copiously.

It was more than 40 years ago, when I was a young student of Petecostalism, that I first encountered the writings of Howard M. Ervin. His persuasive apologetic for classical Pentecostal theology, even though he was a Charismatic Baptist, powerfully encouraged me. I have noted with pleasure the long years of faithful ministry and writing of Ervin, one who has not altered his views from his early days. He has been a strong advocate against those who would weaken the belief that God has wanted to empower His people for evangelism and missions with the empowerment of the Spirit in a crisis experience of Spirit baptism, accompanied by the sign of speaking in tongues.

In Pilgrimage to Pentecost, Daniel Isgrigg provides Pentecostals and Charismatics — and all interested in this burgeoning international movement of the Spirit — with a well-deserved study of the life and thought of one of its pioneers. Through this work, many can be grateful for the pioneering scholarly ministry of Dr. Ervin and understand his distinctive contribution.

Review by William W. Menzies (from Foreword)

Hardcover, 158 pages. $21.99 retail. Order from: amazon.com

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Filed under Education, Reviews, Theology

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