Kathryn Kuhlman and the Transformation of Charismatic Christianity
Amy Collier Artman
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans
Pbk; 248pp; £21.57
Publisher's page: https://www.eerdmans.com/Products/7670/the-miracle-lady.aspx
Kathryn Kuhlman (1907–1976) was a person of paradoxes. She was a woman leader in patriarchal evangelicalism. She was a TV evangelist that didn't tout for money. She was a 'healer' who didn't claim any healing ability - she always placed the focus on God as the healer. Her ministry marked a distinction between Pentecostalism and Charismaticism. She lived the life of a liberated single (divorced) woman while opposing women's liberation.
Kuhlman belonged to the facilitator type of healing ministry. As Artman observes:
'Facilitating healing emerged out of a renewal of interest in healing in the more mainstream evangelical Christianity of the time. It represented a movement away from the more volatile and dramatic ministries of “heroic healers of incipient Pentecostalism” such as Maria Woodworth-Etter and John Alexander Dowie.'
Facilitating healing was characterised by Charles Price and A. B. Simpson. Price's 'teacher' was Aime Semple McPherson. Yet, as Artman reveals Kuhlman sought to both distance herself from and yet affirm McPherson.
Artman ably and expertly traces the contours of Kuhlman's life and career. Artman has trawled through hours upon hours of the TV programmes that Kuhlman produced as well as photographic and documentary evidence to provide a perspective, as objective as possible, on Kuhlman and her times.
The book is more than a biography of Kuhlman it shows how Pentecostalism moved from the fringes of evangelical Christianity to the centre. It was renamed and rebranded as charismatic Christianity in an attempt to make it more acceptable. This process Artman terms gentrification. It was a process with Kuhlman at the centre. Kuhlman's TV programmes provided an easy way into this movement without having to go to a revival meeting. It was a safe, accessible and private way in. As Artman has it:
'Kuhlman’s life provides an orienting narrative, a road map for studying the gentrification of charismatic Christianity.'Kuhlman taught that healing was in the atonement of Christ; it contained a ransom from both sin and sickness. She held Arminian views - that salvation was open to all who respond. She also held to a strong premillennial eschatology. As this is a historical study rather than a theological one these Artman identifies these points but doesn't discuss them further.
This book provides a fascinating insight into Kulhman and the transition of Pentecostalism into the charismatic movement.