The Ideological Development of ‘ Power’ in Early American Pentecostalism: An Historical, Theological, and Sociological Study

Author: Althouse, Peter
This is study on the central concept of ‘power’ in early Pentecostalism which examines the historical development of the language of power in Wesleyan Holiness and American Revivalism and how it fueled early Pentecostal experiences of the Spirit, spiritual practices and theological descriptions.

Author’s Abstract:
Using methods of historical analysis, theological interpretation and sociological theory, this study investigates the way that the language of power coalesced and formed the spiritual and theological culture of twentieth century Pentecostalism. The underlying ideology of power shaped and defined early American Pentecostalism and provided a hermeneutical key for how Pentecostals understood God, themselves and the world.

Next, a perusal of early Pentecostal writings and testimonies reveals that notions of power were fundamental to the Pentecostals’ understanding of their experiences with God and fellow human sojourners, as they sought personal and social empowerment to live a life of spiritual discipline, service, and ministry to others in the world.

Finally, Weber’s theories of charisma and Durkheim’s theories of symbolic interaction are employed to make sense of the Pentecostal world, one in which both personal and social transformations occur.


“The heuristic richness of [the] focus on power is proved in the text itself as Althouse uses the theme to skillfully weave the pre-history, early history, and later developments of the broadly defined Pentecostal tradition into a coherent narrative around the notion of power. ”
– Prof. Douglas Jacobsen, Pepperdine University

From the Foreword:
“Peter Althouse has done the academic world an enormous favor. . .”
– Prof. Allan Anderson, University of Birmingham