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Pentecostalism May Have Done More for Africa Than All Aid Organizations Combined

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Originally published at the Christian Post.

The vast majority of Pentecostals and Charismatics around the world deeply care about social work and poverty alleviation. Research even indicates that Pentecostalism is the largest movement for social justice that has ever existed.

Pentecostal studies are booming. While it used to be the case that Spirit-filled Christians stayed out of academia and scholars viewed the movement as a bit too much “out there”, this is not the case today.

Pentecostal scholars like Amos Yong and Craig Keener are leading experts in their respective fields and there is a massive academic interest in why Pentecostalism has grown so fast and how it impacts society. The social sciences are no longer ignoring how 600 million Spirit-filled believers shape the world. (more…)

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Early Pentecostals on Patriotism and Nationalism

Originally posted at PCPJ.

These days, love of God is often mixed up with love of country, patriotism and national pride. This was not the case with most early Pentecostals. In line with their pacifism, many influential Spirit-filled leaders criticized patriotism and nationalism. Here are some examples:

parhamCharles Fox Parham (4 June 1873 – c. 29 January 1929) was an American preacher who was instrumental in the formation of Pentecostalism.

The past order of civilization was upheld by the power of nationalism, which in turn was upheld by the spirit of patriotism, which divided the peoples of the world by geographical boundaries, over which each fought the other until they turned the world into a shamble. The ruling power of this old order has always been the rich, who exploited the masses for profit or drove them en masse to war, to perpetuate their misrule.

The principle teachers of patriotism maintaining nationalism were the churches, who have lost their spiritual power and been forsaken of God. Thus, on the side of the old order in the coming struggle, will be arrayed the governments, the rich, and the churches, and whatever forces they can drive or patriotically inspire to fight for them. On the other hand the new order that rises out of the sea of humanity knows no national boundaries, believing in the universal brotherhood of mankind and the establishment of the teachings of Jesus Christ as a foundation for all laws, whether political or social.
Charles F. Parham, Everlasting Gospel, pp. 27-28. (more…)

Why Christians Should Be Social Justice Warriors

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As editor-in-chief for Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice (PCPJ), I’ve had the privilege of writing for The Christian Post a couple of times. My first article summarized the vision of Holy Spirit Activism and PCPJ: Pentecostals should promote peace and justice. In the article, I specified justice as “social justice”, since I wasn’t talking about legal justice.

That triggered some people.

The comment section was filled with things like “social justice is a code word for socialism”, “social justice is anti-American”, “the Bible talks about justice, but not social justice”. Most who wrote this were American Christians. For some reason, when they see the word social justice they act as if somebody has said “Heil Hitler”. They are incredibly upset and argue that we should stop using that term.

(more…)

Coming Up: Book on Documented Miracles

My name is Micael, and I believe miracles are happening today. I’ve seen some amazing things on missionary journeys as well as here in Sweden, where I live. As an evangelist and apologist, I long for others to discover that God is alive and active today.

However, when I have talked to other Swedes about this, it has been difficult to convince them. As residents in the most secular country in the world, people here are skeptical and require evidence. For a long time, I have wanted to be able to refer to a single book in Swedish that collects the most well-documented, inexplicable answers to prayer that we know of.

Such a book is not available today. So I’ve decided to try to write one myself.

If you want to support this project, feel free to PayPal me!

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A Gold Mine for Documented Miracles

Sweden has an extensive welfare state, with free, advanced healthcare accessible to all citizens. Swedish Christians rarely have a problem combining their prayers for healing with medical checkups and care. (more…)

Shane Claiborne: The Gospel of Trump vs the Gospel of Jesus

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Originally posted on PCPJ.

This weekend, activist theologian Shane Claiborne and his friends at Red Letter Christians will arrange a Red Letter Revival in Lynchburg, Virginia. That’s right, the town where Liberty University, the world’s biggest Christian university whose president Jerry Falwell Jr. is a passionate Trump supporter.

The Revival will be themed “Jesus and Justice” and include sermons, worship and workshops on how to fight Trumpism by going back to the Sermon on the Mount. I got the chance to speak with Shane Claiborne on this historic event.

– The reason we do the Lynchburg Revival is that Christianity and Republicanism have been fused together, Shane Claiborne says. They have become almost indistinguishable from each other. When you have the First Baptist Church in Dallas singing ”Make America Great Again” as if it was a hymn in worship, when the American flag is bigger than the cross, what happens is that you begin to see a discrepancy between the values of America and the values inherent to the Gospel. (more…)

If We Are to Love Our Enemies, How Could We Kill Them?

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Jesus told us to love our enemies (Mt 5:44). This has been the cornerstone of Christian pacifist theology; whether you look at the early church, or the Anabaptists or the early Pentecostals, they all agreed on that loving enemies is incompatible with killing them, and hence they refused to wage wars or use violence against other human beings.

For this reason, the Christian non-pacifist has to argue for one of the following positions:

  1. Killing is an act of love towards the one you kill.
  2. We should not follow Jesus’ command to love enemies when we decide to kill people.

There are serious problems with both of these ideas. Let’s start with the first one.

Killing or Kissing

 

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C.S. Lewis

CS Lewis famously argued that it’s possible to love people that you kill and that this is in fact what we ought to do: “We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating.” Augustine argued in his just war-theory that declaring and fighting a war could be an act of love, even though it admittedly manifests as something different than what love usually looks like.

 

However, this clashes with the fact that those who are trained for combat are molded into hating and dehumanizing their enemy. An army that actually loves those that it is supposed to kill, isn’t a good army. It’s already psychologically challenging to kill a human being even if it’s just a stranger to you, and loving them only makes it worse. (more…)

What About the Good Rich People in the Bible?

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Guest post by Stephen Waldron. Originally published on his blog at Theology Corner.

In some parts of the Bible, rich people are portrayed as the worst kind of criminals. They grind vulnerable people into dust, and they are the enemies of all that is good and holy. But wait…

Surely you’ve heard there are also good rich people in the Bible. So the problem of wealth must relate to some sort of internal sin, a “problem of the heart.”

It is true that one thing that Jesus points out is that people’s hearts are often in the wrong place. They are. But the point Jesus was making by linking hatred to murder and greed to wealth wasn’t “The tangible expression of wickedness isn’t all that bad after all.”

Rather, his point was that the moral sickness runs much deeper than his listeners might have suspected. The wealthy are not off the hook just yet. Their greed only compounds an already unjust situation. (more…)

Sign Our Open Letter to Donald Trump

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It’s time for Pentecostal and charismatic leaders that are critical to Trump’s bizarre presidency to speak up.

We call upon all sorts of leaders – pastors, scholars, CEOs, politicians, NGO representatives and others – that are part of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement to sign our open letter to president Donald Trump. The letter will be sent to the White House on the anniversary of his inauguration, January 20th.

This is not a partisan letter. Regardless of our political affiliation and opinions, we feel that Trump has taken politics to such extremes that Christians on both the right and the left of the political spectrum together should say “No!”.

The areas we at Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice have identified as important to speak up about are:

  1. The demonization of immigrants and minorities;
  2. the reckless nuclear war rhetoric;
  3. the loosening of environmental protection;
  4. the belittling and abuse of women;
  5. the disrespect of indigenous people;
  6. the inequalities between rich and poor; and
  7. the dishonesty and lying.

To read the letter and sign it, go here.

Together, we and the Holy Spirit can change the world.

Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please join our Facebook forum, and sign up for our newsletter!

Worship Leaders’ Christmas Albums Proves How Commercialized Worship Has Become

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Originally published at PCPJ.

Kim Walker-Smith is one of the most inspirational worship leaders I know of. Her personal testimony of visions Jesus has given her is absolutely amazing. Her voice and musical talent are astounding. And her passion for Jesus is extremely apparent and appealing when she sings songs like How He Loves, Holy Spirit and Freedom Reigns.

And here she is singing about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:

The song is from Kim’s 2014 album When Christmas Comes which includes 17 tracks. Most of them are worship songs or hymns like O Holy Night or Away in a Manger, but then there’s also White Christmas, Winter Wonderland and other songs that don’t mention the reason for the season at all.

It’s quite common that worship leaders release Christmas albums. Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin and Hillsong United have all done it There’s even a WOW Worship Christmas Deluxe album with 36 songs out there. And just like Walker-Smith, some singers throw non-Christian Christmas songs into the mix, including Michael J Smith as well as Bryan and Katie Torwalt. (more…)

Nine Common Beliefs about Pentecostals & Charismatics that are Totally False

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Originally published at pcpj.org.

Ever since rev. Campbell Morgan called Pentecostalism “the last vomit of Satan” and the Los Angeles Times warned the public about the “new sect of fanatics [that] is breaking loose” from Azusa Street, Spirit-filled Christians have had a bad rap. Other Christians as well as non-Christians oftentimes find us weird, and sometimes a bit dangerous. A lot of those perceptions are based on myths and misconceptions. Here are nine common beliefs about Pentecostals and Charismatics that are totally wrong.

1. It’s a small movement

Depending on where you’re located, the Pentecostal and Charismatic (P&C) movement might seem pretty small. But when you look at it on a global level, it turns out that 600 million people are P&Cs. 200 million are Pentecostals, 100 million are charismatic Catholics, and 300 million are charismatics in a big variety of denominations and churches. Since the number of P&Cs amounted to around zero in the beginning of the 20th century, the P&C movement is commonly described as the fastest growing religious movement in the world.

2. It’s a Cult

I’ve heard surprisingly many casually state “All of Pentecostalism is a cult”, to which I like to respond “That’s about as true as the statement ‘The moon is a tomato’.” Cult is not synonymous with “religion I don’t like”, it has an academic meaning of an isolated group with an authoritarian leader, and while there surely are several sad examples of charismatic churches that have developed into cults it is simply ridiculous to claim that we all would be part of some sort of Jonestown. At least that’s what my Leader tells me and he’s always infallible when he drinks goat blood.

(more…)

7 Shocking Things Atheists Have Denied

Morality. Logic. Themselves. It seems like when some atheists try to deny the existence of God, they also need to deny the existence of some very fundamental things. In this video, I talk about the seven strangest denials I have heard from various atheists.

 

Christian TV Channel Claims that You Can Buy God’s Blessings

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Originally published at PCPJ.

The Norwegian channel Visjon Norge (Vision Norway) claimed that donations between 180 and 6,130 dollars would bring blessings from God, as a Nigerian pastor would pray different prayers depending on the amount of money people donated.

David Sagen. Screenshot from Visjon Norge.

David Sagen. Screenshot from Visjon Norge.

Verdens Gang reports that on October 15, David Sagen who regularly contributes to Visjon Norge explained why he two years ago started to give 2,500 kroner (430 US dollars) to the ministry of Nigerian pastor Bayo Oniwinde every month. Oniwinde had said that he would pray “Joseph’s blessing” over those who donated that amount.

– I told God, that Joseph’s blessing should come now, and really I was just happy that Joseph’s blessing was on its way. And that year, two years ago, many things happened in my business – and yeah, it went very well.

(more…)

The Toxic Church Culture that Causes Sexual Harassment – #MeToo

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Photo: Pablo Varela, unsplash.com

My friend Katarina Hedman wrote this on Facebook today. I asked if I could send it on.

A couple of years ago I was at a Christian conference. The speaker was a completely ordinary charismatic with a dramatic voice, a suit, some extra pounds and was – of course – a man. Nothing out of the ordinary. This man even made attempts at being funny. And judging by the reaction of the room, he succeeded. Only I couldn’t laugh.

Majority of his jokes were about women. About how little men understand these strange creatures and how awful mothers-in-law are, and so on. Again, no different than what we are exposed to daily. Not just in church. He delivered joke after joke as if the service was his personal little comedy gig. Like men often do.

Today my feed is flooded with #metoo and men trying to be gallant. But the cause of sexual harassment isn’t that some poor bloke has had a drink too many. It doesn’t even start with a porn addiction or other tangible ways of displaying a poor view of women. It starts here. With jokes, like those that one pastor filled his message with and the crowd happily and uncritically laughed at. (more…)

Do They Care More About Patriotism than African Americans?

A lot of great content is being published at PCPJ right now, including this piece by professor Cecil M. Robeck Jr. on the history of women leadership in the Pentecostal movement, and this personal post by Rachel Stella on what a “good Christian woman” is supposed to be. But I want to repost our amazing writer and artist Ramone Romero’s article on American football, patriotism and racism:

Black Lives Don’t Matter As Much As the National Anthem

by Ramone Romero.

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It seems sometimes that in the national debate about #TakeAKnee the focus has become about “the flag” and “the anthem”, and it is often being forgotten that #TakeAKnee is a protest about the systemic injustices of law enforcement against people of color.

Yet even if that is forgotten in the news and chatter, this is still intensely about race.

The #TakeAKnee protests in the NFL (and spreading across the sports world) are offensive precisely because they began with black athletes.

The offense people are taking as disrespect to the flag, the anthem and to “America” itself comes because these are black athletes protesting.

How dare they interrupt the anthem?
How dare they not salute the flag in the way we want?
How dare they draw any amount of attention to themselves?
How dare they interrupt our holy moment of nationalistic worship?

(more…)

Charismactivism is On Its Way


I’m happy to announce that I just received the finished draft of Charismactivism from the editor at Ettelloc Publishing. After I’ve looked it through, the book will be ready for printing.

This has been an exciting three-and-a-half year long journey. Charismactivism sums up the message I’ve been preaching ever since I entered ministry, namely that charismatic spirituality and activism for peace and justice are not opposed to each other – they need each other!

The book covers the Biblical basis for charismactivist theology, it deals with objections to miracles, evangelism, pacifism and social justice, it takes an extended look at church history to showcase how charismactivism has been part of radical discipleship over the centuries, and it ends with suggestions to how to nurture and plant charismactivist churches.

An excerpt from the first chapter:

Basically, charismatics hold the power cord to the vacuum cleaner and activists hold the hose. Charismatics possess God-given superpowers that are of enormous value and should welcome help and guidance from their activist brothers and sisters in order to use them for good. Activists have a God-given vision for how to make the world a better place and should welcome help and guidance from charismatics in order to promote it more effectively.

I’ll keep you updated with info on how to get the book as soon as it becomes available.

The author

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Check out my YouTube channel!

A Living Alternative

God vs Inequality