Eddie Hyatt writes a very fine overview of the history of Pentecostal/charismatic beliefs and practices throughout church history. As a historical account this volume is accurate and helpful to anyone desiring to understand the roots and developments as well as the present manifestations of charismatic Christianity. But the reader needs to understand that Hyatt is extremely sympathetic to the movement. As a result, his interpretation of historical events, rather than the events themselves, is often questionable and could be challenged by anyone knowledgeable of the issues. He writes in glowing praise concerning prophecies, miracles, tongues, leaders, and happenings, but leaves out the “rest of the story” including the destruction often found in their wake. Nor does the author interact with Scripture. To Hyatt virtually any Pentecostal phenomenon recorded in church history is legitimate and of the Spirit, no matter how bizarre, unbiblical or destructive.
Even though the book is supposed to track Pentecostal events through church history and demonstrate that this is not merely a modern day (beginning in 1901) movement, Hyatt admits that there were long stretches of time in which little, if anything, of a charismatic nature was taking place. At such times however the “gifts” were still alive among the monastics (pp 38, 57-62), never mind that the monks and nuns were Roman Catholic and taught a false gospel. Hyatt believe that the nemesis of Pentecostalism is organization. As the church became more structured and ritualistic, the Holy Spirit became less active (pp 10, 30, 35-37), in his opinion.
As stated earlier, for a good overview of Pentecostal history from a very sympathetic and not always objective perspective, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity is helpful. As an analysis of the movement it has little value except as the perspective of a well-informed charismatic.
2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, A 21st Century look at Church History from a Pentecostal/charismatic Perspective by Eddie L. Hyatt (Florida: Charisma House, 2002) 225 pp + xii., paper $13.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Southern View Chapel