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Fire From Heaven: The Rise Of Pentecostal Spirituality And The Reshaping Of Religion In The 21st Century Paperback – May 8, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religi
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 4.8.2001 edition (May 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306810492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306810497
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pentecostal Christianity, which emphasizes the immediate experience of God through speaking in tongues, trance and ecstatic bodily motion, is not a backward-looking movement, declares Harvard theologian Cox (The Secular City), but an ecumenical force that speaks to the spiritual emptiness of our time by tapping the core of human religiousness. The author describes his visits to Pentecostal churches from Boston to Rio de Janeiro to Seoul. He delineates the movement's interracial beginnings in Los Angeles at the turn of the century, tracks its lightning spread around the globe and explores the pivotal role of women, which led, he asserts, to a conception of a nonjudgmental God with "distinctively feminine" qualities, making Pentecostalism a force challenging patriarchal cultures around the world. Cox expresses his misgivings about "unattractive political and theological currents" in the U.S. Pentecostal movement, including a fixation on demonic spirits and a "dominion theology" that supports ultraconservative public policy. An engrossing and illuminating report.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Cox (The Silencing of Leonard Boff, Meyer Stone Bks., 1988) gives an objective view of Pentecostalism. He is neither an insider nor a skeptic. In this study, he includes descriptions of his own experiences and reactions in Pentecostal churches as well as an accurate history of the movement's origins and development. He looks at its rapid growth in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America as well as in the United States. The author finds reason for both hope and misgivings in this popular religious revival and its relationship to late 20th-century society. Cox feels that both science and traditional religion have been rejected by many people as sources of ultimate meaning. He feels Pentecostals have tapped into genuine spiritual energies but warns that "the fire from heaven can burn and destroy as well as purify and inspire." This is a reasoned, dispassionate study; recommended for academic and public libraries.
C. Robert Nixon, MLS, Lafayette, Ind.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Harvey G Cox, Jr is Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. His many influential books include The Secular City (1965), which became an international bestseller, and When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Decisions Today (2004). Daisaku Ikeda is President of Soka Gakkai International and the author of over 80 books on Buddhist themes.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By mmillner@washbj.com on December 23, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Cox's Fire From Heaven does bring some sense of legitimacy to Pentecostalism among the liberal academy of theologians and religionists who still view the movement as full of backwater American blacks and whites. However, in playing up the idea that Pentecostalism may be little more than a Christian "mask" over indigenous spiritualities, I think he may have played into the hands of religious right fundamentalists who attack a charismatic christianity as heretical and into the hands of intellectual universalists who don't wish to see a distinct contribution from the Christian Pentecostal movement as a unique form of religious spirituality. Cox writes with the ease and clarity of a novelist, but the story is more fiction than fact. He could site actual examples of Pentecostalism in Africa, for instance, rather than making the eurocentric generalization that all African Christianity, or indigenous churches there, are just another form of Pentecostalism. Very little attention is given to the interpretive issues in Pentecostalism (oneness vs trinity, wesleyan sanctification vs keswick baptistic) nor is adequate attention given to the continuing distinction among class and race in the American movement. That someone from Kirkus Reviews could have actually have read the book and still view the Azusa Street Revival as a meeting of poor black domestic workers shows that the ecumenical and ethnic diversity of that early 20th century movement still have not been made crystal clear.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
Professor Cox has, indeed, contributed to the ever-widening area of Pentecostal/charismatic studies with "FIRE FROM HEAVEN." His breadth of experience, reflected in the book, is to be admired; but it wasn't wide enough. As a life-long Pentecostal, I could identify with only a few parts of his "experience" and have wondered why the "main-line" denominations weren't included more than they actually were. Why did Cox not visit Times Square Church, or the Brooklyn Tabernacle, or any number of other biblically-sound congregations, and see what effective Pentecostal churches are all about? After reading, and re-reading the book, I felt that I was getting a treatise on the "fringe" elements of Pentecostalism, and not the "mainstream." It is worthy of being read...but not very balanced,in the light of world-wide Pentecostalism.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Winifred Flint on October 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Harvey Cox, the former head of Harvard Divinity School, does some magnificent work giving insight to pentecostalism and putting it into context with information I have not seen elsewhere. He traveled the world speaking to academics and attending services on almost every continent. He pushed his ten page list of citations to the back to make it more accessible to the non-academic and provides a fourteen page index.

He successfully explains the unique hidden power wielded by women in pentecostal churches in Latin America and the intricate historical relationship between American fundamentalists and pentecostals. He also does well describing the neo-pentecostal and how all three fit into the Religious Right's political agenda. The history he provides on the degeneration into gender bias is well researched. But his best work is exposing the American pentecostal automatic acceptance of government policies that permitted despots to "disappear" pentecostals. These pentecostals were in essence delivered up by their own sisters and brothers in America.

But there are at least two serious errors in this work such that it must be read with caution. He continues that Anglo-centric myth that pentecostalism took off in 1906 on Azusa Street in Los Angeles from which it spread to the world. And he totally misrepresents pentecostalism in Africa - particularly Zimbabwe.

In a 1996 article in Church History, Joe Creech mines one of the earliest histories of of Azusa St (Bartleman, 1925[1980] Bridge Publishing) to show that the historical and theological biases of the time are responsible for the current assumption of The Myth.{This is a correction to my original review - thanks to Nelson Banuchi, May 2008.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Harvey, Cox. Fire From Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-First Century. U.S.A. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. 1995. Book.
[...]

Harvey Cox, is Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. In this book, Cox does extensive research into the movement of Pentecostalism from across a global landscape. He defines it not as a new denomination but as a movement. He begins with well documented research into the Azusa Street roots. He explores dynamics coming from William Seymour (the 'father' of the movement) of racial integration and the ecumenical elements found in the coming Kingdom ideal. He traces the movement and the things that hallmark it as unique such as race, tongues, how female leaders through its history have moved it forward, as well as the unique nature of its use of music in worship, emotions, experiential worship, and the seeming syncretism not only in American Pentecostalism but Italian, Asian, and African, among others.

For anyone who seeks to explore what drives Pentecostalism, Cox's book sheds light on the motivations and ideas imbedded in the movement. Well documented in his bringing things to light, that have not been readily available, such as the history of the Azusa Street event that began it. It sheds light on why some hold tightly to the evidential tongues doctrine and the doctrines unique to the movement, like Latter Rain, Kingdom theology, even showing how it has been leading up to Prosperity Theology so prominent in its ranks, by its very examination of its beginnings.

I found this book very helpful to clear up my own confusions over certain emphases and focuses in the Pentecostal movement. Harvey Cox helped me make sense of the movement. Allowing me to affirm the positive points of the movement that I do agree and allowing me to see some of the problem areas I have intuited the past years.
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