Book Review of Ronald Kydd’s “Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church”…Well Documented Defense of Spiritual Gifts into the 3rd Century

Posted: September 5, 2008 by Rick Hogaboam in Book Reviews, Pentecostal/Charismatic Interests
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Dr. Ronald  Kydd


Kydd, Ronald A. (1997). Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church: An Exploration Into the Gifts of the Spirit During the First Three Centuries of the Christian Church. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

For more on author Dr. Ronald Kydd, visit:


This very brief book analyzes the theology and presence of Spiritual gifts in the Post-Apostolic era. Kydd examines the Didache, Tertullian, Justin Martyr and more.
While I would concede that the Spiritual Gifts became less prominent in the centuries following Pentecost, it was not due to a necessarily defined doctrine or understanding in the early church. The early church embraced and practiced the Spiritual gifts. This much is clear in this brief book by Ronald Kydd.
Kydd (1997) concludes his volume by declaring that Spiritual gifts played a prominent role in the first two centuries, “We have been able to come to a fairly clear conclusion…Throughout the first and second centuries, the gifts remained very important to the church”.
Kydd traces the gifts decline in the third century,
“…in the first half of the third century, things change…It is clear that the importance granted to spiritual gifts was passing…The gifts just did not occupy the place in the life and thinking of the Church that they once had”
The question Kydd doesn’t answer thoroughly is why the gifts declined. He does end his monograph by suggesting the following:
There came a point around A.D. 260 at which they no longer fitted in the highly organized, well-educated, wealthy, socially-powerful Christian communities. The Church did not lose its soul, but it did lose these special moments when God broke into the lives of men and women.
I would concur with Kydd’s brief observation. A theology opposed to the presence of gifts is foreign in this early church, but their absence was rather due to a change in ecclesiology which centered around the role of the Bishop in the local church and deemphasized the role of the laity in the context of worship. This continues today as many churches function with a precisely timed worship service which allows no space for lay involvement, let alone the expression of Spiritual gifts. All pastors must deal with this issue in the context of the local church. For Pentecostal/Charismatic pastors, there is a challenge in constructing a liturgy which allows for and encourages the exercise of Spiritual gifts. If such is not desired in the weekly corporate gathering, then one must find other contexts in which the laity can edify one another in the empowerment of the Spirit or else even the Pentecostal/Charismatic community of churches runs the risk of becoming functional cessationists.
  1. joelmartin says:

    Rick, I have some stuff on the charismata amongst early reformers and some in the Middle Ages. If you’re interested, email me at

  2. […] time checked.  It is a readable book but not without faults.  There is another short review at  Ronald Kydd is a former professor at Eastern Pentecostal Bible College in Peterborough, Ontario, […]

  3. Rev Dr Andrew Daunton-Fear says:

    I read Dr. Kydd’s book while preparing my London PhD thesis in the closing years of last century and found some valuable points in it. I think he might be interested to learn that,in May this year, Paternoster published my own book ‘Healing in the Early Church: The Church’s Ministry of Healing and Exorcism from the First to the Fifth Century’ (ISBN 978-1-84227-623-5) in which his work is referred to several times.

    I should be grateful if you would forward this information to him, or else kindly give me his contact details.

    With thanks,

    Andrew Daunton-Fear

  4. Rev Dr Andrew Daunton-Fear says:

    Thank you.


  5. […] I last checked.  It is a readable book but not without faults.  There is another short review at  Ronald Kydd is a former professor at Eastern Pentecostal Bible College in Peterborough, Ontario, […]

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