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Faith Cure: Divine Healing in the Holiness and Pentecostal Movements.

Faith Cure: Divine Healing in the Holiness and Pentecostal Movements. By Nancy A. Hardesty. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2003. vii + 168 pp. $19.95 cloth.

The current interest in religion and health has led to a new interest in the history of the religious healing. How have religious individuals understood the relation between faith and healing? This has been a particular concern for those from the Protestant Christian tradition. The question of healing only fully emerges in (at least English-speaking) Protestantism in the nineteenth century. Why so late, and why then, many might ask. Nancy Hardesty has provided a useful survey of the revival of interest in religious healing in Faith Cure: Divine Healing in the Holiness and Pentecostal Movements.

Hardesty's volume offers a succinct overview of Protestant faith healing from its roots in the eighteenth-century Wesley revival, through its full emergence in the second half of the nineteenth century, to its twentieth-century developments. Although this story has been told in its parts by others--such as Donald W. Dayton, Raymond J. Cunningham, Paul G. Chappell, and David E. Harrell--Hardesty has put the movement together in a simple narrative. This will be a great boon to the student, particularly because neither of the unpublished dissertations of Cunningham and Chappell is easily available.

The strength of the work is two fold. Hardesty's narrative includes both comparatively well-known figures such as Charles Cullis, Aimee Semple McPherson, and John Alexander Dowie, as well as lesser-known figures such as David S. Warner, Joanna Patterson Moore, and Mary Mossman. In this regard she has been assiduous in ferreting out African American figures who are often not included in general studies. Secondly, through her notes she provides a good bibliography of the movement.

The volume is a narrative history based largely upon the primary writings of the participants. Although narrative history is a respected methodology, it does provide some problems when used to address materials such as those involving the rise of faith healings. Much of the literature is either insider testimonial accounts of cures or accounts of ministries that are providential in nature. What perspective should be taken on such materials, an insider's acceptance of them as fundamentally straightforward narratives or an outsider's more critical stance? The author seems unclear on which to take. She would have been helped by the burgeoning literature over the past decade that has attempted to bring a new sophistication to the history of faith healing. Although Grant Wacker's study of early Pentecostalism and the important dissertations of Jonathan Baer and James Opp are listed in the author's bibliography, unfortunately they do not seem to have influenced her approach to her subject.

Faith Cure is a solid narrative history, accurate in detail, that will provide a student ready access into the topic of Protestant faith healing. It may well be the first book a student should consult, but it should not be the last.

Robert Bruce Mullin

The General Theological Seminary
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Author:Mullin, Robert Bruce
Publication:Church History
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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