Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
RAR 6:1 (Winter 1997) p. 155
Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing: An Investigative Report, James A. Beverly. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan (1995). 184 pages, paper, $10.99.
The intent of the author, professor of theology and ethics at the Ontario Theological Seminary in Toronto, is, as he states, “to provide some objective analysis of the heated debate both about the Toronto Blessing and Rodney Howard-Browne” (p. 7), the center figure in this perceived-by-some fulfillment of Joel 2 and the final restoration at the end times. The book is, therefore, an attempt to describe and evaluate the validity of the movement while providing the necessary historical information to make sense of it in context.
The strengths of the book are many. First, the author is to be highly commended for his objectivity; his careful and painstaking fact-gathering has allowed him to be neither commendatory to the point of misperception nor inaccurately denunciatory. In this area, Beverly has written for us not only a book on a controversial topic, but a model of proper research technique. From my biased viewpoint, it is an objective report, just as the title implies. Second, the author is to be commended for setting the Toronto Blessing in the larger context of the Vineyard Movement and the Kansas City Prophets Movement. Though the Kansas City Movement did not begin as a segment of the Vineyard Movement, being incorporated somewhat into it, the Toronto Blessing should be seen as an outgrowth of it in the Airport Vineyard in the city on January 20, 1994. The book, in this light, is a good history of the Vineyard Movement in the 1990s. Third, the author provides a very accurate
RAR 6:1 (Winter 1997) p. 156
description of the “Toronto meetings” themselves in such a way that the reader can understand the nature of the controversial movement, both its structure and key leaders. Fourth, I found Beverly courageous in stating both the commendatory components of the “Blessing” as well as his, at times, painfully clear disappointments in it. Often criticism of the professedly divinely inspired has brought such ridicule that it has caused more tender folk to be less frank; on this score Beverly is a brave man. His zeal for righteousness, I believe, after reading the book several times and having thought about it even more, is due to the sincerity and integrity with which he undertook the task as a seeker of truth. Fifth, the bibliographic materials in the book prove excellent resources for further study. Additional materials have come from a variety of presses since this publication; yet, this is a good place to start.
The book begins with a brief description of the origins of the movement in the ...
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