Cover Image: Pentecost


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Growing up, I might have known Pentecost was when Peter and the others received the Holy Spirit. I would not have known it was a liturgical season of the church, or what we did to observe it. This new series, The fullness of Time, was perhaps written for people like me, who long to learn more. When did these observances begin? What passages of Scripture accompany them? How have they been observed historically. There's so much in these books, and I'd highly recommend each one in the series.

Was this review helpful?

A nice book that is part of a series that follows the liturgical calendar. This book is about Pentecost. I really appreciate this series and taking time to focus on the current liturgical season.

Was this review helpful?

As someone who grew up in an evangelical tradition that did not celebrate much of the church calendar, I love this approachable series of little books. The Fullness of Time series of books gives a great overview of five celebrations in the traditional church calendar by different voices in the christian sphere. Pentecost is one I didn't know much about and I really appreciated getting a broad picture of how it is celebrated in all types of traditions, not just protestant. It's rich in history and theology. The whole series is a delight.

Was this review helpful?

I really have enjoyed the Fullness of Time series that this is a part of, and I look forward to reading the rest of the volumes. Alvarez does a great job of sharing how the liturgical celebration of Pentecost has taken shape through church history. While I don' t have muchpersonal experience in a church tradition that walks through the historic calendar, it has given me a deep appreciation for the power of ordering our communities around an alternative calendar.

Was this review helpful?

This series of books is really helpful. I appreciated the author’s information and inspiration. I read it over the weeks of Pentecost, and I was thankful for the practical help along the way.

Was this review helpful?

I really appreciated this primer on the liturgical season of Pentecost. The author takes the time to go over the traditions of several different Christian faiths, which I appreciated because I was unfamiliar with most of them. The lower than usual stars rating is mostly due to me not agreeing with everything that the author proclaimed and also because a lot of my spiritual pain and emotional issues involve the type of Pentecostalism that he delves into toward the end of the book. That being said, that's more about me than it is about this book, and I'm really looking forward to exploring the rest of this series as the liturgical calendar continues this year.

Was this review helpful?

What is Pentecost? What is the meaning of the word "Pentecostal?" Why do Christians celebrate this event? Has this event any connection to the Old Testament? What is the significance of such an event? These questions are dealt with in this book. Pentecost Sunday is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar. Celebrated 50 days after Easter, it commemorates the day the Holy Spirit came down upon believers in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 2. With the coming of the Holy Spirit witnessed by thousands, the full identity of the Trinity has been revealed to all. The key events in the Church Calendar are Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. This book focuses on the latter, to show us the significance and provides us basic things we ought to know about Pentecost. Calling it a "Day of Power," author Emilio Alvarez takes time to unwrap the meaning of what Pentecostal power means. It is not a power about race to the top echelons of society but about the grace of God given to all believers. It is about that spiritual renewal that we need. Pentecostal power proclaims the work of Christ and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Alvarez asserts that believers should see themselves as pilgrims rather than tourists when celebrating Pentecost. What's the difference? One is about entitlement and the other is about growing in spiritual experience. Beginning with the meaning of the Pentecost festival, Alvarez shows us how Pentecost and the Old Testament are connected through three festivals: Festival of Weeks, First Fruits, and Harvest. He tells us that we do not have to wait until the Day of Pentecost to celebrate. We can be celebratory in the days leading up to the Day itself.

Alvarez then comes to an oft-controversial topic: Speaking in tongues. He gives us a rather conservative overview of some perspectives from the early Christian leaders as well as some modern renditions of Pentecostalism. In an interesting take on the speaking of many tongues, he compares this Pentecost event with the curse of Babel, which was the time when God scattered the people for their pride in one language to try to usurp the authority that was not theirs to take. Pentecost undoes this curse in a reversal of Genesis 11. Instead of unity toward arrogance, Pentecost is about unity in diversity. He shares about the power of a multilingual community and the new ecumenism which is "emergent, convergent, charismatic, pentecostal, missional, evangelical, constructive, etc." Emphasizing the Pentecost as communal through and through, the power of Pentecost is essentially about bringing together people from all walks of life because of the gospel. That is probably why he chooses not to go in-depth about the angelic languages of glossolalia. He also gives us an overview of the symbols of Pentecost such as liturgical colors as well as the Western, Eastern Orthodox, and the Roman Catholic traditions. Finally, he gives us a chapter about Pentecost Prayers, Hymns, and Scriptures, that covers Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Anglican, and Pentecostal traditions.

My Thoughts
As an accessible guide to the Church year, this book checks out well. Written in a clear and concise manner, readers learn about the fundamental aspects of Pentecost and what it means to celebrate Pentecost. Sometimes, laypersons from many traditions might tend to associate anything to do with Pentecost with merely the Pentecostal Church. This book debunks such a belief and focuses on the shared perspective, that no matter what tradition we come from, Pentecost unites rather than divides. Pentecost is about unity in diversity. Pentecost is a celebration for all Christians. The Holy Spirit is given to all, and not just to some. I am pleasantly surprised at how much material Alvarez is able to pack in this small book.

Those who want to see descriptions of Pentecostalism and the speaking of tongues might be disappointed. They should look elsewhere because this book is simply to help us appreciate the meaning of the Pentecost event, and the days leading up to it. Alvarez is more interested in dealing with matters that promote common understanding rather than issues that divide. Although he writes from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, his material is sufficiently ecumenical to help Christians from all traditions to understand the common significance of Pentecost. The focus on community is vibrant. The orientation on unity is equally strong. Curiously, when he lists out some of the rituals from the various traditions, one tradition is missing: the evangelical tradition. Perhaps, evangelicals are too diverse themselves to be considered in any one group. Whatever it is, I believe evangelicals can also gain as there are many things evangelicals can adopt from the book. I warmly recommend all to read this book for a better appreciation of the meaning of Pentecost, without being unduly distracted by tongues or different interpretations of Pentecostalism. The Spirit of Pentecost is much more than these theological differences, and that should be the attitude when we read this book.

Emilio Alvarez (PhD, Fordham University) is the presiding bishop of the Union of Charismatic Orthodox Churches, a communion that embraces the one holy, catholic, apostolic tradition. He is also associate provost for lifelong learning at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of InterVarsity Press via NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Was this review helpful?

Since I was raised in a Pentecostal church, I appreciated the author's presentation of both the charismatic side of Pentecost as well as the rich liturgical tradition that has developed the last two thousand years. I had previously learned some of that tradition surrounding Advent and Lent, but the idea of Pentecost as, "a feast of the day by day . . . when we rediscover the joy of waiting on the promises of God by the power of the Holy Spirit" was new and enriching to my understanding of the church calendar. I loved learning how OT concepts of the year of jubilee and the feast of first fruits are tied to this season in addition to the obvious day of Pentecost in Acts. I also appreciated the prayers of different traditions that were included; for that section I would suggest dipping into it day by day rather than reading straight through.

Since this is the first book of this series that I have read, I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of how Pentecost would be presented, but I was impressed by the breadth of the biblical background, the liturgical history, and the practical insight that was in this short book. I will be looking forward to reading other books in this series.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-arc. I’m enjoying this series and this was an engaging and insightful volume.

Was this review helpful?

In this short book, the author writes about Pentecost, sharing in depth about its meaning in various ways from past to present. I especially appreciated how this book contained details we often miss about Pentecost/the Feast of Weeks from the Scriptures.

This book is part of a series called the Fullness of Time, which has books based on the church year that seem to be helpful and informational. I read one other book from the series myself on the season of Lent (which I won in a giveaway), which piqued my interest in this series as a whole.

The author writes,

“The power we need now is the power of Pentecost, which is intimately connected to the message of the good news of the Christ who lived, died, and was raised, who is proclaimed as gospel in accordance with the Scriptures, who is present in the breaking of the bread, and who is experienced still today by the power of the Holy Spirit. . . we look for the power to change both our personal lives and the lives of others. Fundamentally, this is what we mean by the Christian celebration of Pentecost.”

Covering various topics about Pentecost in detail and more, this book takes us on a journey through Pentecost’s history, its implications for today, and the different practices of the church related to Pentecost in our current times across different traditions.

Because the book contained so much info, it would be a good one to take in slowly so as not to get bogged down by all the details, especially in the chapter about the many different liturgical traditions’ celebration of Pentecost.

My only concern with the book was that the section about the baptism of the Holy Spirit could leave others feeling this is a requirement when it is just one denomination’s way of viewing it (and we do receive the Holy Spirit at conversion, it does not mean we don’t have Him without this—though we see much in Acts, we do not see the New Testament writers telling the churches to pursue it after). Because this view has at times been problematic and even harmful for some involved in these movements in recent decades, and this belief is also prevalent in churches that are part of the unbiblical New Apostolic Reformation and Word of Faith/Prosperity Gospel movements, it would have been helpful to have some sort of warning regarding these so as not to possibly cause later confusion should someone pursue it.

I received a review copy of this book for free from Netgalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

This is a quick read, offering timely reflections on the season of Pentecost. While many Christians consider Pentecost only one day on the Church calendar, it is actually a 50day season. Emilio Alvarez introduces the reader to the rich Church heritage of Pentecost, examining a variety of Bible passages and different Church traditions. This book also includes beautiful examples of prayers used throughout Pentecost in different Church traditions. This book is a useful resource for pastors and lay-people alike.

Was this review helpful?

I am loving The Fullness of Time series of books about the seasons of the church calendar. I grew up knowing about Pentecost, but until recently never realized that Pentecost actually started as a celebration in the Old Testament (the Feast of Weeks) AND was the day the Holy Spirit came upon the believers in Acts. I highly recommend this series to those who want to learn more about the church calendar and the various seasons of the church year.

"To celebrate Pentecost is to acknowledge that, first and foremost, as believers in Christ, we are strangers and sojourners in the world, holding temporary residence."

"The season of Pentecost is not only about the promise of spiritual power that aids us in our everyday living but about the power given to us so we might become children of God and, as children of God, strangers in the world and pilgrims journeying toward our heavenly eternal home."

"Can we at Pentecost intentionally include people from other cultures and languages in our celebrations and reflections in order to hear the wonders of God through their lives? Here and in these actions the Holy Spirit prepares humanity to be together at the end of all things."

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Was this review helpful?

This book took me about an hour and a half to read. And although it was a slim book there were many things that I felt were worth highlighting.

Right off the bat, the author gives the history of Pentecost. And I love that the author doesn’t just stop at the times of the apostles, but it follows it through all the way to the Azuza street revival. It’s uncommon in a book not exclusively aimed at charismatic audiences to mention the Azuza street revival, but I loved that the author spent some time discussing that as well.

The author also spent time showcasing Anglican hymns and discussing tarrying services.

The conclusions at the end of the book leave the reader with the feeling that perhaps with the Spirits help we might all become United as a church body even while celebrating our cultural and ethnic differences, even if that leads to martyrdom.

Well thought out and researched.

NetGalley provided a free copy of this book for my unbiased review.

Was this review helpful?

Pentecost, by Emilio Alvarez, is a short book that takes a look at the season of Pentecost through the lens of different traditions and liturgies. Quotes from several Church Fathers as well as different hymns, prayers, and scripture portions are considered. They highlight the fact that Pentecost had the effect of bringing unity and still does to this day. This is a unity that celebrates diversity and can only come about through the power of the Holy Spirit. This unity within diversity is what can be found in the different Christian traditions specifically in the teachings and observances during the Church calendar of Pentecost. There is something to be gleaned from each tradition’s expression of Pentecost. One of the quotes I like is, “Pentecost promotes a multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual approach to our Christian faith.” Another is, “Pentecost is not only about the ability to bilingual or trilingual in your proclamation or hearing the gospel; it is also about our ability to hear others ‘speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.’. “ #Pentecost #netgalley

Was this review helpful?