Book Review: The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit

The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit: Encountering The Power of Signs and Wonders

By C. Peter Wagner  (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit: Encountering The Power of Signs and WondersC. Peter Wagner begins The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit by identifying the first two waves: the Pentecostal movement that opened the twentieth century and the wider Charismatic movement that followed it some 50 years later. The third wave is a moving of the Holy Spirit among evangelical circles in which divine power is used to enhance and speed the spread of the Gospel – succinctly stated, “Miracles help people believe,” (p 92).

Wagner notes that the general lack of supernatural power in many churches, circa 1988, is “due to the pervasive influences of secular humanism through all levels of contemporary American culture” (p 21). Indeed, the worldview of most non-Westerners’ contains three tiers of thought, with the middle level freely embracing supernatural phenomenon – be it good or bad; the Western worldview lacks this awareness, persisting in a two-tiered perspective, effectively denying the signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit.

The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit addresses four levels of faith, with the fourth being signs and wonders. This opens the door for “power evangelism,” with performing miracles as a means of attracting people to Jesus. However, Wagner goes on to warn that those who experience the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit need to guard against esteeming themselves as super spiritual or viewing others as lower-level Christians.

Wagner continues by teaching on the real and tangible power of the enemy, but confirms that the power of God is greater; followers of Jesus can – and should – cast out evil spirits. He also addresses specific moves of the Holy Spirit, which are denied by some Christians: healing, deliverance, language, prophecy, and even raising the dead.

Aside from their use to facilitate the spread of the Gospel, these signs and wonders are not an end to themselves, but a means for a deeper walk with God. Towards this end, Wagner teaches on our response to the three types of death, ministry to the poor, dealing with suffering, and bearing fruit and cultivating intimacy with God.

Although The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit was written in 1988, its truth is timeless and its message is still relevant today.

[The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit: Encountering The Power of Signs and Wonders, by C. Peter Wagner. Published by Servant Books, 1988, ISDN: 0-89283-601-1, 133 pages.]

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