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April 1973 · Vol. 2 No. 2 · pp. 60–61 

Book Review

The Flaming Tongue: The Impact of 20th Century Revivals

James Edwin Orr. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1973. 241 pages.

Reviewed by Abe J. Dueck

This book is basically an attempt to document the magnitude and scope of the early twentieth century awakening—specifically from about 1900 to 1910. Orr does this by giving a country by country survey of {61} revival, beginning with the revival in Wales which gave the impetus to revival in many other countries. He selects countries from every continent on the globe to indicate the world-wide scope of the revivals. The method used is generally one which focuses on revival meetings in various cities and in individual churches, citing the role of major revival preachers, giving attendance figures, conversion and church membership statistics, and quoting periodical and newspaper reports concerning the nature and impact of revivals. The documentation itself is quite impressive, although the accumulation of facts and statistics makes the book rather tedious to read.

The book offers very little in the way of new insights or perspectives concerning revivals. The author does seek to point to some of the positive social effects of revivals, such as the decreased incidence of drunkenness and crime, etc. Occasional critical remarks are made, such as that concerning the commercialism, sensationalism and irresponsibility of freelance evangelists in the United States after the period of the spiritual awakening (p. 96). The closing chapters formulate some general conclusions regarding such issues as emotionalism, Pentecostalism, and the relation of the revival to the modernist-fundamentalist controversy. On the whole, however, the major contribution of the book is that it convincingly demonstrates the fact of a major world-wide revival in the early twentieth century.

A. Dueck
Mennonite Brethren Bible College, Winnipeg, Manitoba

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