Local books: Indigenous Pentecostalism, Amazing Grace, The Elisha Code . . .

This is my fifth round-up of 2023, and there will probably be one more, early next year. Again there is a range – historical, biblical, inspirational and academic. The first round-up is here, the second here and the third here.

This week I will look at nine books covering a wide range of topics. The write-ups are generally from Amazon and publisher / author sites.

  •  Aaron A.M. Ross: The Holy Spirit and the Eagle Feather: The Struggle for Indigenous Pentecostalism in Canada (McGill-Queens University Press)

Pentecostalism is one of the fastest-growing religious movements in the world. In Canada, it is the most rapidly growing Christian group among Indigenous people, with approximately one in 10 Pentecostals in the country being Indigenous.

Pentecostalism has become a religious force in many Indigenous communities, where congregations are most often led by Indigenous ministers – an achievement that took many decades.

The Holy Spirit and the Eagle Feather traces the development of Indigenous Pentecostalism in Canada. Exploring the history of 20th century missionization, with particular attention to the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada’s Northland Mission, founded in 1943, Aaron Ross shows how the denomination’s Euro-Canadian leaders – who believed themselves to be supporters of Indigenous-led churches – struggled to relinquish control of mission management and finances.

Drawing on interviews with contemporary figures in the movement, he describes how Indigenous Pentecostals would come to challenge the mission’s eurocentrism over decades, eventually entering positions of leadership in the church.

This process required them to confront the painful vestiges of colonialism and to grapple with the different philosophies and theologies of Pentecostalism and Indigenous traditional spiritualities. In doing so they indigenized the movement and forged a new identity, as Indigenous and Pentecostal.

Ross gave a webinar on the book November 2 for the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion; the YouTube is available here. For a Faith Today review of the book go here.

Aaron Ross is a settler Canadian historian of Christianity and an ordained minister with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. He is Lead Pastor of Richmond Pentecostal Church and an instructor in the History of Christianity at Summit Pacific College in Abbotsford.

  • Bruce Hindmarsh & Craig Borlase: Amazing Grace: The Life of John Newton and the Surprising Story Behind His Song (Thomas Nelson)

Amazing Grace is based on years of research on the life and writings of John Newton. It tells of a prodigal who returns home, and a young love that defies the odds; of a young man whose life is torn by grief and wounded by the cruelty of others, following his descent into deeper suffering and finally into the brutal world of the slave trade.

Newton rejects God repeatedly but is rescued by a divine mercy that reaches deeper than he could ever have imagined as he ultimately faces his past and repents.

Newton’s story is shocking, and Amazing Grace does not try to airbrush or excuse his faults. There are glaring contradictions in the life of a ship’s captain who retreats to his cabin to study his Bible and write tender love letters to his wife while hundreds of slaves lie in chains in the hold below.

The profound lessons from his life are applicable to us today, helping us to:

  • Discover that the need for grace is universal and offers the deepest hope for overcoming hatred
  • Be honest about our lives even when we are ashamed and face seemingly unresolvable problems
  • Look for grace when life is far from perfect and doesn’t match up to our expectations
  • Trust that our mistakes and regrets, no matter how deep, can be redeemed in the end

Since the first public singing of ‘Amazing Grace’ almost 250 years ago, every generation has been profoundly moved by the song, and now readers can connect with John Newton’s story like never before.

Go here to watch his April 13 book launch at Regent College.

Bruce Hindmarsh, DPhil (Oxon), is the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology and Professor of the History of Christianity at Regent College. He wrote his doctoral thesis at Oxford on John Newton, which was published as John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1996). He is a past president of the American Society of Church History. His book The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism: True Religion in a Modern World won best History/Biography in the 2019 Christianity Today Book Awards. 

Craig Borlase specializes in crafting dramatic, engaging memoirs. Recent works include Finding Gobi and My Name is Tani.

  • Zhongping Chen: Trans-Pacific Reform and Revolution: The Chinese in North America 1898 – 1918 (Stanford University Press)

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the turbulent end of China’s imperial system, violent revolutionary movements, and the fraught establishment of a republican government. During these decades of reform and revolution, millions of far-flung ‘overseas Chinese’ remained connected to Chinese domestic movements.

Trans-Pacific Reform and Revolution uses rich archival sources and a new network approach to examine how reform and revolution in North American Chinatowns influenced political change in China and the transpacific Chinese diaspora from 1898 to 1918.

Historian Zhongping Chen focuses on the transnational activities of Kang Youwei, Sun Yat-sen and other politicians, especially their mobilization of the Chinese in North America to join reformist or revolutionary parties in patriotic fights for a Western-style constitutional monarchy or republic in China.

These new reformist and revolutionary parties, including the first Chinese women’s political organization, led transpacific movements against American anti-Chinese racism in 1905 and supported constitutional reform and the Republican Revolution in China around 1911, achieving transpacific expansion through innovative use of cross-cultural political ideologies and intertwined institutional and interpersonal networks.

Zhongping Chen is not strictly local, being a professor of history at the University of Victoria, but this work definitely covers the Metro Vancouver area.

  • Ed Hird & David Kitz: The Elisha Code and the Coming Revival: Rediscovering Jesus’ Blueprint for Revival (Word Alive Press)

Is there a ‘hidden code’ to the Bible – a code hidden in plain sight – we have been missing for generations?

By studying the ministry of Jesus, we can rediscover the blueprint he was following to launch the first century church. It is a blueprint patterned after the prophetic Old Testament ministries of Elijah and Elisha.

Together, let’s crack the Elisha Code, renew our first love and become participants in the next great end times revival – a revival marked by a double portion of Christ’s miraculous anointing.

Lloyd Mackey reviewed The Elisha Code here.

Ed Hird is an author and conference speaker. For more than 40 years he has served as an ordained Anglican pastor around Metro Vancouver. He is now an elder / preacher at All Saints Community Church in Crescent Beach. He received his Doctor of Ministry in 2013, in addition to a Master of Divinity and a Bachelor of Social Work.

David Kitz is a Bible dramatist, author and speaker who has served as an ordained minister with the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada. He lives in Ottawa.

  • Robynne Rogers Healey & Carole Dale Spencer, editors: Quaker Women, 1800 – 1920 (Penn State University Press)

This collection investigates the world of 19th century Quaker women. New research illuminates the complexities of Quaker testimonies of equality, slavery and peace – and how they were informed by questions of gender, race, ethnicity and culture.

The essays in Quaker Women challenge the view that Quaker women were always treated equally with men and that people of colour were welcomed into white Quaker activities. This volume highlights the complexity of 19th century Quakerism and the ways Quaker women put their faith to both expansive and limiting ends.

Reaching beyond existing national studies focused solely on white American or British Quaker women, this interdisciplinary volume presents the most current research, providing a necessary and foundational resource for scholars, libraries and universities.

Healey and Dale were featured on George Fox Talks earlier this year.

Robynne Rogers Healey is Professor of History and Co-director of the Gender Studies Institute at Trinity Western University. She is the editor of Quakerism in the Atlantic World, 1690 – 1830, also published by Penn State University Press.

Carole Dale Spencer was Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality at Earlham School of Religion and Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Portland Seminary of George Fox University.

  • John Murray: Invitation to Joy: Your Pathway to a Purpose-Filled Life

This world would be a better place if we had more love, kindness and generosity.

Invitation to Joy encourages just that. It demonstrates with warm true-life stories that by reaching out to others with love and kindness, the reciprocal returns are multiplied. However, the book also points to a deeper purpose, a more lasting joy which has a spiritual component and will see you through the darkest of life’s valleys.

Invitation to Joy is full of encouragement and will set you on the road to happiness and joy. Your spirit will be uplifted as you discover the reality of a purpose-filled life.

John Murray and his wife Rita live in Metro Vancouver; they have two grown children and five grandchildren. He grew up and was educated in the United Kingdom. His life experience has been in business, in pastoral ministry, in Christian journalism and for the last 20 years before retirement he was the Executive Director of Eurovangelism Canada. He has written six books.

  • Tony & Pat Schmidt: Jesus Did Many Other Things as Well: More Short Stories Out of Japan (independently published)

Following on his first book, Tony Schmidt is joined by his wife in presenting 16 more short stories of experiences from their 33 years as missionaries in Japan. Each story in Jesus Does Many Other Things as Well, Book 2 gives a glimpse of Japanese culture and teaches a spiritual lesson for Christian life. Artistic illustrations connect with the story.

Tony and Pat Schmidt’s stories provide insight into Japanese culture and inspiration for the Christian life anywhere in the world.

Speaking of the first volume, Wolfgang Langhans, OMF International Japan Field Director 2002 – 2012, said:

I couldn’t help laughing aloud a few times reading Tony’s stories of his experiences in Japan, mirroring so well our lives as missionaries in this country. Each story not only shares an aspect about Japanese culture but teaches a spiritual lesson to be applied in daily life as a Christian. Tony does not describe the superstar missionary but a servant who experiences the Lord’s victories in the midst of failure and weakness.

Tony and Pat Schmidt have served as associate pastors at Vancouver Japanese Gospel Church in New Westminster since 2011, after retiring in Japan where they served as missionaries with OMF International since 1972.

  • Raymond Aldred & Matthew Anderson: Our Home and Treaty Land: Walking Our Creation Story (Wood Lake Books)

The words “Treaty means that your identity is bigger than just you” are used both literally and metaphorically. “It’s tempting to start the story of a long journey, even a journey of realization, with the arrival rather than the first, uncertain, steps. But it’s really those first steps that prepare for everything else.”

“First steps are what Our Home and Treaty Land is about,” writes Matthew Anderson in his preface, and understanding treaty is an essential first step. Treaty – what it meant to the First Nations and to the newcomers who originally entered into it. and what it could and should mean for all of us today – lies at the heart of this book.

Treaty is key to the shared narrative, shared spirituality, and shared respect for the land that Ray Aldred says are necessary for our peoples – Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike – to walk well, to live well together on the land because treaty still is, or should be, a lived reality. Treaty doesn’t refer to a one-time, historical event, but to a lasting, daily way of “living well,” in right relation to each other, to the land and to the Creator.

This book actually came out in late 2022; only available as eBook.

Raymond Aldred is a husband, father of four and a grandfather. He was first ordained with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada and is now ordained with the Anglican Church of Canada. He is status Cree from Swan River Band, Treaty 8. He is director of the Indigenous Studies Program at the Vancouver School of Theology. Ray’s passion is to help as many as possible hear the gospel in their heart language.

Reverend Doctor Matthew Anderson was born and raised on Treaty 4 territory. He is an Affiliate Professor in Theological Studies at Concordia University, Tio’tiá ke (Montréal).

  • J.I. Packer: Knowing God: 50th Anniversary Edition (InterVarsity Press)

Over one million copies sold. For half a century, J.I. Packer’s classic has helped Christians around the world discover the wonder, the glory, and the joy of knowing God.

Stemming from Packer’s profound theological knowledge, Knowing God brings together two key facets of the Christian faith – knowing about God and knowing God through a close relationship with Jesus Christ. Written in an engaging and practical tone, this thought-provoking work seeks to renew and enrich our understanding of God.

Knowing God was named by Christianity Today as one of the top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals. With a companion Bible study, devotional journal, and study guide, readers can explore these biblical themes for themselves in this new fiftieth anniversary edition.

J.I. Packer (1926 – 2020) is regarded as one of the most well-known theologians of our time. Once named to Time magazine’s list of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America, Packer served as Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College. His books include Praying, A Quest for Godliness, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God and Rediscovering Holiness.

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