Apostles Today: Making Sense of Contemporary Charismatic Apostolates: A Historical and Theological Appraisal by Benjamin G. McNair Scott
(Pickwick Publications, 2014, 272 pages)
The major story in twentieth and early twenty-first century Christianity is the global expansion of the Pentecostal and charismatic movement. Part of that expansion is the proliferation of charismatic apostolates. The same rationale that calls for a pouring forth of the charismata evidenced in the New Testament (speaking in tongues, prophecy, etc.), also seeks to restore the New Testament’s office of apostle to the contemporary church. Contemporary apostles are extremely controversial, particularly within evangelical circles. McNair Scott, working out of the Anglican tradition, surveys these contemporary apostolates. He explores historical precedents for apostles in the church, as well as the exegetical arguments that support such a view. Finally, he offers a theological critique of contemporary apostles with a view towards the ecumenical potential and challenges that such figures present.
McNair Scott approaches movements like the New Apostolic Reformation from an appreciative but critical distance. As an Anglican with charismatic leanings, he appreciates both the renewal generated by the charismatic movement and the inherited ecclesial and theological structures of traditional denominations. Ultimately, he recommends a severely chastened appropriation of apostolic roles and language that could promote ecumenism between established denominations and new charismatic groups. The book is a revision of McNair Scott’s PhD dissertation, so its audience is fairly specialized. However, the subject matter is highly relevant to the church today. For those interested in the charismatic movement and its influence on contemporary Christianity, this is an important book.