How rude of me, I’ve let you reading my blog for 18 months without ever introducing myself! Here’s a short presentation of how and why I received my passion to combine charismatic theology with activism for peace and justice, based on an article I’m currently writing for Pax Pneuma, the journal for Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice.
Although being raised in a Swedish Lutheran family, religion never meant very much to me until April 2006, when I was radically born again at a mass in the giant Uppsala Cathedral. I started to pray and read the Bible, and I was fascinated by how the liturgy of my church – that previously was nothing but a bunch of pointless, boring rituals for me – had ancient roots filled with holy meaning.
But I also started to spot differences between church and Scripture. I was surprised that Jesus commanded His disciples to heal the sick and raise the dead (Mt 10:8) – something I had thought were things only Jesus Himself did to prove that He was the Son of God – and I was even more surprised to realize that I was a disciple (Mt 28:19)! “Disciples” was a term that I had thought only referred to the twelve men closest to Jesus, not people today. Now I realized that I was actually supposed to do the things Jesus commanded the apostles to do (Mt 28:20a).
Yet, people weren’t prophesying or casting out demons very much in my Lutheran church, so I started to attend some charismatic and Pentecostal churches. As I grew deeper into the charismatic movement, I saw some differences between church and Scripture here as well though, specifically when it came to peace and justice.
Again, my simple understanding of the Bible was that we should do the things that Jesus commanded the first disciples to do, and thus I never questioned His commandments about turning the other cheek (Mt 5:39) or selling everything one has to give the money to the poor (Mk 10:21). I didn’t become a Christian pacifist and activist through the teaching by John Howard Yoder, Shane Claiborne or Heidi Baker, but through the teaching of Jesus.
Within the charismatic movement, people were not as active for peace and justice as I had expected Spirit-filled Christians to be. On the contrary, some (but far from all) advocated for patriotism, just wars, economic inequality and environmental passivity. Disillusioned by this, I started to find theological allies inspired by the radical reformation that believed in pacifism and activism (and I started to read John Howard Yoder and Shane Claiborne).
There is no Anabaptist denomination in Sweden, but as I read about the early Anabaptists and realized that their beliefs about peace and justice were synced with mine, I was involved in the process of creating the cross-denominational Anabaptist Network of Scandinavia together with some friends.
Yet, I was disturbed when I realized that not all (but definitely some!) of my activist friends valued the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Even though cessationism, the teaching that supernatural Spiritual gifts existed in Biblical times but then ceased, is pretty much non-existent in Sweden; several Swedish Christians (especially in the Lutheran church) have a totally non-supernatural theology as developed by Rudolf Bultmann and John Shelby Spong, that both denies miracles in the Bible as well as of today. I found this in some parts of the Christian activist movement, and even if the majority believed in miracles, many did not find them as important as I did.
Because of this, I started to blog, preach and think about how to combine signs and wonders with peace and justice. I also connected with many others who shared this vision and who were putting it into practice: my church Mosaik, Jesus Army, Iris Global, Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice, Bob Ekblad, Simon Adahl, Andrew Meakins, Frida Lindberg… the list could go on and on. What God has done during these years is amazing, and I hope and pray that He will stir a great charismatic, activist revival that will bring millions into the Kingdom and reveal to His people what they’re really called to do.
We appreciate you! Keep up the great work!
Thank you so much!
Fantastic! As a Mennonite, the role of the Holy Spirit played a pivotal part in our early radical reformation, but has often received less than adequate attention in our theology and teaching in later years. Personally, I grew up with no appreciation for “signs and wonders”, tongues, or anything of that sort. I find myself relearning a deeper dependance on the power of the Holy Spirit as I give leadership to a small rural congregation in Canada; and I think the only way forward into God’s future is for a strong Pneumatology (theory and practice) to re-emerge in our churches.
Similar to your situation, I was a pacifist through my conversion to Jesus Christ; it was only later that I read folks like Yoder, Hauerwas, Claibourne and others who helped me to think more carefully theologically about these matters. But it was the Spirit of our Living Lord who changed my heart into one that is beginning to love and forgive my enemies.
Awesome! I can really recommend teaching and books from Heidi Baker, John Wimber and Bob Ekblad. They got both passion for and experience from signs and wonders, and they combine it with activism for peace and justice.
Great to get to know you a little better.
Amen from the Jesus Army!