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Can We Please Stop Treating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Like A Sports Event?

Originally posted at PCPJ.

Once again, the Holy Land has been struck by war.

I feel compelled to write something that I wish nobody should have to write, something that should be obvious to everyone but which for some ill-conceived reason can be controversial to state in certain contexts:

War is awful.

Hamas firing on and killing the Israeli civilian population is awful.

The counterattacks by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killing Palestinian civilians are awful.

War has no winners, there is no one to “cheer” on as if it were a sports event, there is no victory in war that does not come at the price of hating, tormenting and killing your fellow human beings.

Take a look at these pictures.

The upper image shows an apartment in Israel that was hit by one of Hamas’ rockets a few weeks ago. Five-year-old Ido Avigal, pictured to the right, lived in that apartment. He died immediately.

The picture below shows a girl being rescued by medical personnel after an Israeli attack in Gaza. The attack destroyed nine buildings and killed 43 people, including eight children.

In total, 68 children have been killed in the Holy Land these last couple of weeks. 66 of them were Palestinian.

All of this is awful. It’s sickening.

I honestly can’t understand those who are either trying to portray Hamas’ rocket attacks as a legitimate “freedom struggle” or the Israeli excessive violence as a legitimate “self-defense.” It’s madness on both sides.

They all kill children. I repeat: THEY KILL CHILDREN.

Of course, some will say: “Yes, but the children that my favorite team kills are really the other team’s fault because they use all the children who happen to die as human shields”.

Can’t you hear how crazy that sounds?

Sure, human shields are being used in this conflict both by Hamas and by the IDF, but many of these children have nothing to do with the warring parties. For example, five of the 66 Palestinian children who were killed by IDF attacks were sons and daughters of an employee of the Danish organization DanChurchAid.

They had nothing to do with Hamas or the war. They were just children living in Gaza and now they are dead because war is awful.

Thankfully, the violence has currently ended in a ceasefire, but it’s a fragile one. Please pray that peace negotiations are reactivated and that both sides lay down their weapons for good.

We know for a fact that more rockets from Hamas won’t end the occupation, because it has never worked so far. We also know for a fact that IDF bombing Gaza doesn’t end the Hamas’ rocket attacks, because it has never worked so far.

We don’t need people cheering on either side of the conflict as if the killing were some kind of a football game. We need peace. Even those who do not follow Jesus need to realize the wisdom and power of loving their enemies. And that love means that we cannot rejoice in anyone’s death.

God lets the sun shine on the righteous and the unrighteous, he wants us not only to love those who love us but to break the spiral of violence by reaching out to those who hate us. That’s the only way forward.

Pentecostal Leaders in Scandinavia: Get Vaccinated and Stop Listening to Conspiracy Theories

It’s easy to laugh at all the insane conspiracy theories floating around right now, with people claiming that coronavirus vaccine will kill you, change your DNA or transform you into a satanist. But really, it’s nothing short of a catastrophic tragedy that millions of people seriously believe these kinds of things.

As Christians, we should be extra alarmed by the fact that evangelicals seem to be more prone to believing and spreading COVID conspiracy theories than others.

YouTube, TikTok and other Internet platforms have no lack of Christians claiming to “prophesy” that the vaccine will insert microchips or that nurses will try to kill you if you don’t want to get vaccinated.

Apparently, the fact that many Pentecostals got their Trump prophecies wrong has not kept Internet preachers from using prophecy to push their own agenda.

To combat this pandemic of misinformation, Christian leaders need to speak up. This is exactly what the superintendents of the Pentecostal churches in the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – decided to do last week. In a joint statement, they warned against conspiracy theories and YouTube prophets, telling their flock to listen to medical authorities and take the vaccine.

Here’s an excerpt of what they wrote:

Parts of those who sort under the Pentecostal-Charismatic umbrella in the body of Christ, must be self-critical in their evaluation in regard to their promotion of prophecies and conspiracy theories. No significant prophetic voices did foresee the arrival of the virus. We urge those prophets who now spend energy on scaring people with the consequences of the virus, and warning against taking the vaccine, to be more cautious. The church and the world need prophetic voices, but not “YouTube prophets” who do not stand accountable to anyone but themselves.

Therefore, we ask the Pentecostal churches in the Nordic Countries to be in prayer, and make aticons based on love for our neighbor, and not based on fear. There is no contradiction in devoting one’s life in prayer, at the same time as we listen to the advice from the health officials. The political leaders are not combating the churches, they combat the virus.

For the five of us this means that we will follow the advise of the health officials in our respective countries in regard to social distancing for as long as it is needed, as well as taking the COVID-19 vaccine when it is our turn in line. At the same time we will continue to pray and remain vigilant in our calling, serving God in caring for the people around us.

The question is: when will we see similar statements from Pentecostal leaders in other countries?

This post was originally published at pcpj.org.

“Prophet” Chris Yoon said that his followers could stone him if Trump wasn’t president after January 20th… then he changed his mind

You might not have heard about Chris Yoon, but he has actually become one of the most influential Christian voices on YouTube during the last couple of months. After repeatedly prophesying that Trump would be reelected and organize a mass execution upon Democrats, Yoon gained hundreds of thousands of subscribers and views.

Unlike some other Trump prophets, Yoon wasn’t vague in his predictions. Over and over again he emphasized that on the exact date of January 20th 2021, Trump would be reinstalled as president while the military would bring “swift justice” upon his political enemies.

These “prophecies” were influenced by the insane QAnon conspiracy theory, which had labeled January 20th as the day of “The Storm” in which hundreds of heads would roll as Trump defeated the Democrat party once and for all. Yoon was so convicted that this would happen that he told his followers to reserve “throwing your stones at me” until January 20th.

And then January 20th came.

And Chris Yoon had to awkwardly explain to his YouTube audience that unlike Biblical prophets, his prophetic words don’t need to be accurate.

See all this for yourself in the video clip:

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Evangelist Jeremiah Johnson Receives Death Threats from Christian Trump Supporters after he Apologizes for False Prophecy

Evangelist Jeremiah Johnson is one of the disturbingly large group of pastors and evangelists who prophesied that Trump would win the 2020 presidential election. Johnson claimed that he had seen baby boomers helping Trump reach the “finish line” of the presidency in a prophetic dream.

After Trump lost the election, Johnson quickly jumped on the conspiracy theorist bandwaggon claiming that the election was “stolen” from Trump. In fact, he put his prophetic integrity on the line, along with all other “prophetic voices” who had claimed that Trump would be reelected:

Yeah, back in November Johnson argued that the only alternative to the #stopthesteal conspiracy theory was that numerous prophets were possessed by demons… something he clearly didn’t believe.

But after the 1/6 terror attack against the Capitol and the certification of Biden’s win by Congress, something happened with Johnson.

He actually repented.

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These 12 Evangelicals Falsely Prophesied that Trump Would Win the 2020 Election

“When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD and the message does not come to pass or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.” – Deut. 18:22

No matter if you like it or not, Joe Biden won the US presidential election. This is very awkward for all the pastors and televangelists who claimed that God had told them that Trump would be reelected. Some of them even claimed that he would do so “by a landslide”.

This video includes false Trump prophecies by Pat Robertson, Paula White-Cain, Kris Vallotton, Mark Taylor, Kat Kerr, Marcus Rogers, Kevin Zadai, Greg Locke, Taribo West, Denise Goulet, Curt Landry, Jeremiah Johnson.

As of this writing, only Vallotton has apologized for his mistake – and even he took his apology down after many of his followers protested.

Of course, this raises the question: if these church leaders were wrong about this, what else are they wrong about? Most of them were not only predicting Trump’s victory, but hoping for it. Some of them described his presidency as “goodness” even as it included a complete disregard for refugees and people affected by climate change.

It’s time to reevaluate what kind of leaders we want to be influenced by.

(more…)

Five Shocking Evangelical Reactions to Trump Losing the Election

Originally posted at PCPJ.

When it became clear that Joe Biden had won the presidential race, many white evangelicals and Pentecostals were highly upset. While there obviously are exceptions, a surprisingly large number of white church-goers are convinced that voting Democrat is equivalent to child sacrifice and that this was an election between God and Satan.

Several Pentecostal and charismatic leaders even prophesied that Trump would win. Some, like Bethel Church leader Kris Vallotton, have apologized. Most have not – and they’re now struggling to justify what has happened.

Below is a list of the five most embarrassing reactions among evangelical leaders to the election results. As Trump himself has claimed that millions of votes were illegal, just like he did in 2016 and 2018 without any evidence whatsoever, many of his Christian supporters are trying to convince themselves and others that somehow he will win against all odds. Still, there are clear signs of panic and fear in these responses – a tragic consequence of them equating the Kingdom of God to the populism of Trump.

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Why Black Evangelicals Rejected Trump – While White Evangelicals Love Him

Originally posted at PCPJ.

People often ask me: “Why do so many evangelical Christians support Trump?” . It’s a good question. What is with having a high view of Scripture that leads people to celebrate someone who in so many ways doesn’t sound and act like Jesus?

What many people tend to forget is that while 70-80 percent of white evangelicals support Trump, only 20 percent of black evangelicals – that is, African Americans with evangelical beliefs – do the same.

The difference between these groups is not their view of Scripture: they all see it as the authoritative Word of God. Something else is going on here. Let’s look at some statistics to find out!

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Why Do So Many Think that Evangelicals are Hypocrites?

Originally published on PCPJ.

I’m sad to say that I wasn’t surprised when I saw that Jerry Falwell Jr. resigns as the president of Liberty University after posting a sexual photo from his yacht on social media and allegedly having approved of an extramarital affair between his wife and a business partner (including watching from a corner while they were having sex).

The allegations concerning the bizarre sex games are disputed, but the photo alone gave Liberty University enough reason to question Falwell’s leadership, as the evangelical university has some very strict guidelines concerning sexuality, dress code and alcohol consumption (Falwell is holding a drink in the photo, writing in the caption “I promise it’s just black water in my glass”).

If a student at Liberty University had posted the same photo, the consequences would likely have been more than $9,000 in school fines and 900 hours of required service, and possible expulsion.

There’s one word that people keeps coming back to when describing this situation: hypocrisy. The very thing that Jesus warned his disciples against over and over again. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy”, the Lord said. “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (Luke 12:1-2).

Sadly, 62 percent of millennials think that hypocrisy is one of the main characteristics of the church. Why? Some evangelicals would push back, claiming that these kids have a lot of prejudice and are hypocrites themselves. But hold on a second. What if there are objective, factual reasons for non-Christians to perceive evangelicals as hypocrites?

Jerry Falwell Jr. was one of the earliest Christian leaders to endorse Donald Trump. It may be hard to remember nowadays, but Trump was hardly any evangelical’s first choice. Republican candidates like Ted Cruz were far more popular. It’s common today to hear evangelicals say that they simply don’t care about Trump’s curses, rhetoric and playboy lifestyle, as long as he nails conservative policies.

Falwell Jr. helped pioneer this line of thinking. It used to be the opposite of what evangelicals valued in a president.

These statistics show beyond any reasonable doubt that the white evangelical endorsement of Trump has radically changed their values. In 2011, over 60 percent of them said that an elected official who commits an immoral act in their private life cannot behave ethically in their public life. In the Trump era, this conviction remains among less than 20 percent. Falwell Jr. and other evangelical leaders have convinced millions of Christians that a good character simply isn’t relevant when it comes to leadership, despite there being hundreds of verses in the Scriptures that suggest otherwise.

It must have been a comfortable message for Falwell Jr. – he clearly thinks that this applies to himself as well. Other evangelical leaders have at least maintained that pastors need a good moral character, emphasizing that “we didn’t elect a pastor but a president” (which is a ridiculous logic in and of itself – American presidents have access to nuclear weapons!). Falwell Jr. on the other hand compared Trump to Jesus.

Furthermore, I wish we lived in an age where it was obvious to everyone that Trump is a hypocrite. He said that he would “drain the swamp” in Washington making it less corrupt, but has taken no action to do so and instead filled his administration with relatives, people currently under investigation and career politicians. Trump frequently accuses the media for lying, calling it “fake news”, when even his supporters clearly can see that he frequently lies himself. Just watch him deny that he has said things he actually said:

But here’s the really catastrophic part. In the gallup I referenced above, which shows that most white evangelicals don’t care about moral character in their public officials anymore, there was some stunning evidence of evangelical hypocrisy:

Do you see that? The number rises dramatically if the question is asked after Bill Clinton is mentioned, but plummets when it is Trump’s name instead. This clearly proves that at least a quarter of white evangelicals in the US are hypocrites. They disregard God’s teaching: “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.” (James 2:1). They don’t shape their opinion on this matter based on God’s Word, but on the priorities of the Republican party.

The Constantinian relationship many white evangelical leaders have to whatever candidate the Republicans choose to nominate is having a disastrous effect on their discipleship and obedience to the Word. It is a problem far greater than one single former president at an evangelical school.

Are American Christians Worshipping America?

Tiffany Trump said at the 2020 Republican National Convention:

“God has blessed us with unstoppable spirit. His spirit, the American spirit. My dad has proven to be driven by that spirit.”

Vice President Mike Pence paraphrased Hebrews 12:1-2 but replaced ”Jesus” with the American flag and Christians with Americans:

“So let’s run the race marked out for us. Let’s fix our eyes on Old Glory and all she represents. Let’s fix our eyes on this land of heroes and let their courage inspire.”

Just one year ago, President Trump called himself “The Chosen One”, and thanked someone for ”the very nice words” of calling him the “king of Israel” and like ”the second coming of God”.

If this isn’t blasphemy… what is it?

I’m reminded of Shane Claiborne writing in his excellent book ”The Irresistible Revolution” about when some kids insisted that he should play Jesus in a church play when he did missionary work in a Latin American country.

”Why don’t any of you play Jesus?” he asked.

”You must do it!” the children said, ”because you’re white and come from America!”

 

Claiborne goes on to write:

“Jesus had a new definition of family, rooted in the idea that we are adopted as orphans into the family of God and that this rebirth creates a new kinship that runs deeper than biology or geography or nationality. Rebirth is about being adopted into a new family – without borders.” (p. 188).

The Holy Spirit is not an American spirit. We should fix our eyes on Jesus, not a flag. There is no god besides God Almighty.

This is true regardless of how many politicians wish that they were the center of the universe.

The Simple Tip from Jesus that Transformed My Life

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Pornography, shopping, countless hours wasted on entertainment, social media scrolling that hardly gives us anything…

The age of the Internet is an age of huge potential and opportunities for mission, networking and activism, but it is also an endless sea of temptations and distractions right at our fingertips.

We often take the latter path, even when we don’t want to. I’m sure most of us clearly can relate to Paul’s words:

“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Rom 7:19)

I myself have struggled with this for a long time. But as the title of this blog post suggests, a simple tip from Jesus Christ himself in his amazing Sermon on the Mount has been a game-changer for me.

And it might not be what you expect:

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)

Jesus gives this advice as he teaches on fighting sexual temptation. I took this to heart and now I look like this:

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Three Ways to Deal with Conflicts According to the Bible

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We are called by Jesus to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), resolving conflicts as we go forth to spread the Gospel about his love. Peace is always dependent on at least two parties, which is why we might experience conflict even when our intention is peace.

This is why Paul writes “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:18). We try our best on our part, and pray that the other respond constructively.

What does this look like in practice? God seems to be very concerned with us asking that question, since the Bible provides us with several practical tools for conflict resolution and peacemaking.

1. Breaking the cycle of hostility

The first tool is given to us by Paul right after he says that we should seek to live at peace with everyone. He continues: (more…)

What Jesus Didn’t Need

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You didn’t need an army
You didn’t need a sword
You didn’t need the president
that they are fighting for
You spread your holy Kingdom
with words and deeds alone
And that makes you the greatest King
that I have ever known

You didn’t need a building
You didn’t need a car
The latest tech and fancy clothes
you didn’t need at all
You didn’t need that I were
good-looking, friendly, smart
The only thing you need from me
is just my fragile heart

You didn’t need to suffer
You didn’t need to die
You could have stayed upon your throne
and still be glorified
You didn’t need to save us
You didn’t need to care
But yet you did and that is why
I offer you my prayer

A Fire Rises: George Floyd and What Pentecost Really is About

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Originally posted on PCPJ.

The US is on fire right now. Yet another black man has been killed by police brutality: George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died after a policeman sat on his neck, charging him with paying with a false 20 dollar bill.

Many of you have already seen the horrifying footage: Floyd groaning and screaming, saying that he can’t breath, and later becoming unconscious. He was later confirmed dead.

This has caused a huge uproar across the country this Pentecost weekend. While many protesters are nonviolent, there are also reports of destructive riots and even fatalities. And it doesn’t help that President Trump writes “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” on Twitter, echoing Walter Headley who said this exact thing in 1967 when he threatened to order his policemen to shoot black people.

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At PCPJ, we care deeply about racial and social justice. We also believe in nonviolence and enemy love. So while we encourage those who make their voices heard, we cannot stress enough that it needs to be done without any violence. Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr. shows us that it is indeed possible to stand up for the oppressed without causing any harm to others. (more…)

Pentecostals are Informing Millions About the Science Behind COVID-19

The Pentecostal World Fellowship has produced some excellent material about COVID-19 that will be handed out in areas with limited access to information. Through Pentecostal churches and networks, it will hopefully reach 100 million people.

“As far as I know, this is the first time ever that the Pentecostal global network has coordinated an informational campaign about an urgent crisis in society in this way. We hope we will reach out to people in churches all over the world and be able to contribute in limiting and reducing the spread of COVID-19 in societies. This is a chance to be there for marginalized groups who might otherwise not be reached,” Niclas Lindgren, director of Swedish organization PMU that has helped producing the material, said in a statement.

Some examples of the advice provided in the material:

  • If someone gets COVID-19, it does not mean they have a spiritual ailment or they are punished by God.
  • No person should be stigmatized for contracting COVID-19 or blamed for having had little faith.
  • Encourage those who are very sick to seek medical attention according to the national health guidelines (see the example set by Jesus in Luke 17:14).
  • No person should be condemned for having practiced caution, remained home or avoided physical greetings. Instead, the exemplary behavior should be highlighted in the church.
  • The importance of praying for the affected; comforting and encouraging those who are experiencing fear and anxiety.

Download the material here!

How Nationalism and Inequality Makes the Coronavirus Pandemic Even Worse

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Originally posted at PCPJ.

As the new coronavirus spreads across the world there is a big risk of it killing tens of thousands if not millions of people. The complaint of the World Health Organization is that many countries are ill-prepared for handling this.

It’s not hard to see why.

Two things are crucial for stopping a pandemic: international cooperation and universal health care of good quality. When these are missing, the likelihood of certain areas around the world becoming infection hubs increases, which in turn spreads the disease uncontrollably. (more…)

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