Pentecostals have many voices, some of them more theological than others. What are some of the theologians that you should know and read their works? Theology is the study or the pursuit of God. Who you listen about the things of God matter. There is many voices out there that have nothing to do with the things of the Spirit.
This is not a full list and it does not include Charismatic thinkers. All of these educators are of the Pentecostal tradition. I also need to point out that there are several that could make this list but I wanted to keep it short. Let’s get it started.
Dr. Stanley Horton
The first on the list is one that must be first. He was seen as the Elijah of theologians. it did not matter what denomination you was in, he was respected. He valued the Word of God and the Spirit of God. In fact, his book on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is still widely read. The scholarly work he did on eschatology is another example of what he leaves behind. He served, for years, as a professor at Central Bible College and later the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.
As Lois E. Olena’s book says, he was the “shaper of Pentecostal Theology.” I can’t think of one person to shaped theology more than Brother Horton.
However, one of the greatest gifts to the Church was not theological, it was practical. He became the spiritual father of two other people who will make this list. His mentorship led to thousands of people lives changed. Many pastors today are anointed with theological understanding because of the work of Dr. Stanley Horton.
Dr. Craig Keener
One of those students that Dr. Horton mentored was Craig Keener, currently at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is the author of many books that are deeply theological but the most important ones would be his 4,000 page work on the Book of Acts and the Biblical Backgrounds commentary. His impact of the theological process is something that no one will ever know. He has helped bring clarity to many issues both within and without the Pentecostal movement. This is especially true about modern day miracles. He puts an emphasis on God’s work in today’s societies.
On a personal level, I find that His Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible to be very useful. He has footnotes on most of the verses and they explain what is going on within the culture and history of the people that the original hearers of the message was. He has worked tirelessly to make sure we understand that we must determine what a text means to them first before we can apply it us today.
Dr. Macchia has left his impact through teaching first at Southeastern University and currently Vanguard University. However, he is more widely known for his writing. The two of them that really are important is Baptized in the Spirit and Jesus the Spirit Baptizer. Both of them remind us the importance of biblical theology in our view of the Spirit.
In some cases, Pentecostals focus too much of the gifts of the Spirit and do not move on to a more complete view of the works of the Spirit. The work of Frank Macchia calls us back to the centrality of biblical theology on this issue.
The reality is that every Pentecostal preacher should read both of these works at least once and try to apply it to their congregation and theological development.
One of them on the list that people might not expect is Amos Yong, a professor at Fuller but he is actually Pentecostal and ordained in the Assemblies of God. He also has given us some outstanding works about theology, especially missiology. His work, The Spirit poured out was a game changer for me personally. It gave me language to many of the things I had been praying about but did not know how to express.
He also did a great service for us with his work of disabilities. Often, we had tried to balance our call to compassion and our deeply hold view that Jesus is the healer and it is integral to the gospel. Amos Yong tries to help us work through this issues.
One area that Dr. Yong has been of influence is dealing with the issue of political theology. In the face of Christian nationalism, he challenges us to allow our Pentecostal theology to inform our political thought, not the other way around. This is greatly needed in our time of history.
Gary B. McGee
Some people might not know of Gary McGee. He was a professor at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary but I believe his importance is for the work he did in the area of church history. I still use the Miracles, Mission, and American Pentecostalism as the main textbook for the history of the Pentecostal movement. It remains on my desk for a quick grab when researching. On of the other works he did (which are many), the People of the Spirit which is the history of the Assemblies of God is very good and easy to read for the common person.
One of the reasons that Gary McGee should be known by Pentecostals is his work disarm the idea that tongues is a new thing prior to 1901. He also put a hole in the idea that we are a restoration movement. It is clear that spiritual gifts never left and we just did not see them happening but they were present in some form.
Speaking of church history and the belief of restoration of gifts, we would have to talk about Eddie Hyatt. He has written a whole book detailing the gifts of the Spirit throughout church history called 2000 years of Charsmatic Christianity. He has a special ability to find lesser known facts about the spiritual gifts in the work of men of God through history. Having poured over journals, diaries, and academic releases; he is also to form a solid understanding of what really happened in church history. Things like the healing ministry of Martin Luthur and that John Wesley prayed in tongues.
Dr. Hyatt has also given alot of research into the founding of the United States and the impact that faith had on the leaders of our country. Much of the information he finds is unknown by many but is powerful when because it is not “proof texting.” I recommend the work of Eddie Hyatt.
Dr. George Westlake
The final one on this list has a personal tie. He is not only the spiritual son of Stanley Horton, biblical language professor and scholar on the Book of Revelation. He is also was my pastor for over 20 years and a person mentor. I do not know of a man (or woman) that knows the scriptures like George Westlake Jr. The man can quote scripture just from asking a question, give you the original languages and give you 10 other verses than confirm it just from memory. In his old age, he has forgotten more theology than I will ever know.
Still to this day, you can find Dr. George Westlake on Facebook answering people’s questions and teaching on Wednesday nights at Sheffield Family Life Center in Kansas City.