Tag Archives: Grant Wacker

Dedication of the Grant Wacker Collection

The public is invited to attend the dedication of the Grant Wacker Collection, to be held at Riggs Hall, Evangel University, on Thursday, October 11, at 3:30 p.m.

Dr. Grant Wacker, one of the most prominent historians of American religion, deposited his Pentecostal research collection at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The grandson of Assemblies of God General Superintendent Ralph Riggs, Wacker was an Assemblies of God pastor’s kid. He went on to earn his Ph.D. at Harvard University and has taught American religious history at Duke University Divinity School since 1992.

Pentecostal history has been one of Wacker’s primary research interests, and his 2001 book, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture, has become a standard text on the subject. Few scholars have left a greater mark on the study of Pentecostal history than Grant Wacker.

Wacker is now writing a book on Billy Graham and has put aside his research into Pentecostal histo­ry. Wacker deposited his Pentecostal research materi­als at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The Grant Wacker Collection consists of 13.75 linear feet of files plus numerous books, which together constitute the raw materials from which he crafted his scholarly assessments of the Pentecostal movement.

Evangel University President Robert Spence will formally dedicate the collection in Thursday’s ceremony, and Wacker and Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Director Darrin Rodgers will also offer remarks.

Wacker will also present a lecture on Friday, October 12, 2012 at 2 p.m. in the William J. Seymour Chapel at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. His lecture, entitled “Billy Graham and the Shaping of Modern America,” will reflect his recent research about the famous evangelist for a book of the same title, under contract with Harvard University Press. The public also is invited to attend this lecture at AGTS.

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Review: Portraits of a Generation

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Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders, ed. by James R. Goff, Jr. and Grant Wacker. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2002.

Portraits of a Generation talks about many of the early Pentecostal leaders. Instead of giving a large, drawn-out list of every leader in the Pentecostal movement, it gives the testimonies and interests of those leaders that maybe weren’t quite as famous. It gives insight into who really had the vision and those who desired seeing those visions put into real life. In this book, they represent leaders from all different walks of life. They differ on areas from ideas about theology, ethnic and social background, and areas of living. There is a common view that Pentecostalism was a movement without structure or leaders, but this book instead shows that the movement had a strong sense of both.

Portraits of a Generation is separated into three sections: “Forerunners,” “Visionaries,” and “Builders.” All of the chapters are about individual early leaders. Many of the contributors are known scholars of Pentecostalism while others aren’t very well known in the academic world.

In the first section, “Forerunners,” the leaders that the editors include are John Alexander Dowie, E. L. Harvey, Charles Price Jones, Frank Sandford, and Alma White. They are all leaders who paved the way toward the formal Pentecostal movement. These leaders were not directly tied with the Pentecostal movement, and some didn’t believe in the same standards that Pentecostals do today, such as speaking in tongues. Though not specifically under the Pentecostal umbrella, they laid out some of the ground beliefs and ideals that were later accepted into Pentecostal doctrines.

In the section on “Visionaries,” there are discussions about Minnie F. Abrams, Frank Bartleman, William H. Durham, Thomas Hampton Gourley, Alice E. Luce, Francisco Olazábal, and Maria B. Woodworth-Etter. These leaders were between the forerunners and the builders. They were the ones who envisioned what the movement eventually became and helped provide for the structure. Francisco Olazábal was one of the main contributors in the growth of Pentecostalism in the Hispanic culture while Minnie F. Abrams, Alice E. Luce, and Maria B. Woodworth-Etter gained popularity in being some of the first female leaders for the Pentecostal movement.

“Builders,” the last section, discusses the leaders Florence Crawford, G. T. Haywood, Charles Harrison Mason, Carrie Judd Montgomery, Antonio Castañeda Nava, Ida B. Robinson, George Floyd Taylor, and A. J. Tomlinson. In this section, Pentecostalism begins to take on the form of classical Pentecostalism. The people included in this section are those who heard and saw what the other leaders were trying to do and started to put their beliefs and ideals into action.

Because the volume is collective, there are some essays that were different in the quality of their sources than others. Some of the arguments had limited sources so are based on suppositions. Overall, the quality of the essays is very professional. All twenty-two chapters looked at Pentecostalism in three different lights: those who came before, those who had the vision, and those who put the vision into action. This gives us a good understanding of the early stages of the Pentecostal movement and how it was viewed by those with whom it began.

Reviewed by Samantha Beck, Evangel University student

Softcover, 430 pages, illustrated. $34.95 plus shipping. Available from amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com

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Top Pentecostal history books in libraries


Next to Assemblies of God Heritage magazine the Bible, what is your favorite reading material? Do you have a top ten list of your all-time favorite books?

We thought it would be interesting to see which Pentecostal history books are most popular in libraries. So, we logged onto FirstSearch (aka WorldCat or OCLC, which is available at your local library) and searched for books with the following terms in their subject headings. The top ten books for each term, in terms of the numbers of libraries holding each book, are below.

Pentecostal history
1. Heaven Below : Early Pentecostals and American Culture / Grant Wacker (Harvard University Press, 2001) 878 libraries
2. Reinventing American Protestantism : Christianity in the New Millennium / Donald E. Miller (University of California Press, 1997) 847 libraries Continue reading

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