Web Exclusive Book Review
Aldwin Ragoonath, Preach the Word: a Pentecostal Approach. Winnipeg, Canada: Agape Teaching Ministry of Canada, Inc., 2004. $19.95 (US), $25.95 (CDN).
Aldwin Ragoonath, a Canadian pastor and homiletician in the Pentecostal tradition and a participant in the Academy of Homiletics, has written a book that is shaped as a basic preaching textbook but that also serves as an apologetic for a distinctively Pentecostal approach to homiletics. Ragoonath, who is informed by the standard works in the field (e.g. Craddock, Lowry, and Buttrick), nevertheless insists that "Pentecostal and Charismatic preaching is …different from all other forms of preaching." As such, he desires to wean his approach away from contemporary homiletical and rhetorical theory and to base it essentially on what he understands to be biblical principles and on preaching models provided by Jesus and the apostles.
Ragoonath winds his way through all the basic loci—exegesis, form, delivery, etc.—putting his own Pentecostal stamp on each. He calls for preachers to be prepared to spend much time in prayer and fasting, for a process of biblical interpretation "not encumbered by higher criticism" that seeks to re-experience both the "truths and the feeling" of a text, and for a preaching of the "full gospel," namely that "Jesus saves, sanctifies, heals, baptizes in the Spirit and is coming back to this world—soon."
Even for readers unpersuaded by Ragoonath's approach to homiletics or his Adventist theology, this book provides a fascinating glimpse into Pentecostal practice. He provides a concise guide to the history of Pentecostal preaching and discusses such matters as dress codes ("It's always safe to have a suit with you in case you have to use it."), the logistics of "healing and deliverance" services, the practice of "tarrying" (a prayer-like waiting for divine action), and signs that a preacher is truly anointed by the Holy Spirit (e.g. the preacher preaches with boldness; the sermon is accompanied by "signs, wonders, and miracles," and the preacher often speaks in "a higher pitched voice" and "his facial expression begins to glow").
Thomas G. Long
Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Prepared for the Pneuma Foundation website by Todd H.