Fire From Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the
Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-first Century.
Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1994.
ISBN 0-201-62656-X 346 pp. $24.00 hardcover
If his mentor Tillich almost never cited a biblical passage but
preferred to look for erotism, Cox--who elevates Sting above the
christian canon--has been taught well. When compared to the
valuable response to global pentecostalism by Professor Jurgen
Moltmann in All Together In One Place, the piece by Cox comes off
like a cheap novel.
However, since Cox wants to delicately handle his pentecostal
friends, let us try to size up his work from the parts to the
whole where he fares much better.
Introduction, "Little Church"
As a young man, Cox attended a small holiness type church in
order to court Lois. He later reveals there was no speaking in
tongues at this church.
Cox tries to link his Quaker background to pentecostals. This for a
scholar who in the 1960s was grouped with the Death-of-God theologians.
p. 13 "... whatever the empirical probability .." Not a small
point for pentecostals who believe in the metaphysical reality of
the Holy Spirit.
p. 15 ... testimonies, ecstatic speech, and bodily movements.
But it is a theology, a full-blown religious cosmos ..."
Cox prefers the elasticity of such over against the theological
works of pentecostal scholars which he does not engage.
Chapter 1, "Millennium Coming"
White City, 1893 World's Parliament of Religions ... Like
chapters that follow, Cox takes an extraneous figure and uses it
to clarify aspects of the pentecostal movement. One was for the
elite, the other for the people; both sought a new Pentecost.
One year later the White City burned down while Azusa Revival
fires still burn.
p. 29 xenolalia
p. 36 What particular pentecostal antecedent appeared in 1893?
There were others before this that can be clearly identified on
at least five continents.
p. 40f Cox pushes too far ...
Chapter 2, "LA"
He rehearses established facts about Parham then Seymour
Chapter 4, "Primal Speech"
Cox fails to distinguish between pentecostals and charismatics.
p. 90 Cox apparently knows tongues-speech in most every century,
however he wrongly identifies Montanus
Chapter 5, "Primal Piety"
p. 109 "... certain ritual acts might actually trigger human
endocrine and immune systems ..."
Chapter 7, "Daughters"
Women join pentecostal churches because they find there things
that feminists look for, Cox argues.
Chapter 8, "Music"
Cox plays sax ... music anyway you want it among pentecostals, he
p. 143 Pentecostalism and jazz are "undeniably siblings."
Chapter 9, "Latin"
Brazilian female pentecostal in a liberal, national, political
Chapter 10, "Sibyls and Madonnas"
Cyprian pentecostals that empower women in the home.
Chapter 11, "Shamans ... Asia"
Over half the chapter, it seems is devoted to the Canberra speech
by Hyun Kyung Chung.
p. 220 Cox refers to Minjung theology which, in fact, is not
taught in pentecostal schools in Korea.
Cox accepts the high figures for Cho's church and is not aware
that Cho's church is in decline.
Chapter 12 "Ecologists ... Africa"
Daneel's story about Zimbabwe, also in All Together In One Place
where Daneel told the story himself.
Chapter 13, "America: Whose Report?"
Cox provides a surrealistic description of a Sunday evening
service at a particular Assemblies of God.
Chapter 14, "Body Snatchers"
Frank Peretti is used heavily. Peretti is not a pentecostal.
Chapter 15, "Liberating"
Will pentecostals join worldwide fundamentalism or remain
experiential as Cox and his mentor Tillich would prefer? As Dr.
Bill Faupel pointed out in his recent Society for Pentecostal
Studies presidential address, some outsiders compare pentecostals
to Tillich for this very reason.
Harold D. Hunter
Here is a review by Dr. J. Rodman Williams