Restoring the Faith: The Assemblies of God, Pentecostalism, and American Culture

Blumhofer, Edith L. Restoring the Faith: The Assemblies of God, Pentecostalism, and American Culture. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1993.

Restoring the Faith, by Edith Blumhofer, charts the history and development of the Assemblies of God as a way of illuminating and interpreting the larger issues of Pentecostalism and its encounters with American culture. Blumhofer understands the origins of the Assemblies of God (and Pentecostalism as a whole) as a millenarian restorationist movement which, as the 20th century wore on, evolved into a large and prominent American denomination struggling to balance their conviction to conserve Pentecostalism’s radical, counter-cultural ideals with the urge to expand denominationally and its tendency to fit comfortably within the surrounding culture. In eleven chapters, the book traces Pentecostalism’s roots in the premillennial, healing, and holiness movements; its expanding network following the 1906 Azusa Street revivals in Los Angeles; the organization of the Assemblies of God in 1914; the transition of Pentecostal believers from “pilgrims to citizens”; and the multiple issues the Assemblies of God and Pentecostals in general faced as they emerged from relative cultural obscurity in early and mid century to become a dominant evangelical force toward the century’s close. Blumhofer’s final chapter on the future of the Assemblies of God—a body which has grown to become the “leading predominantly white classical Pentecostal denomination in the United States”—recommends that the denomination take a serious look at recent trends suggesting its own spiritual and numerical stagnation, trends not unlike those which have plagued mainstream Protestantism in recent years.