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Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

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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.

Did Trump Just Call Himself Divine?

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Originally posted on PCPJ.

This sentence from The Guardian has to go down in history as completely unimaginable concerning a U.S. president just a few years ago:

Over an ensuing half-hour rant, Trump trucked in antisemitic tropes, insulted the Danish prime minister, insisted he wasn’t racist, bragged about the performance of his former Apprentice reality show, denied starting a trade war with China, praised Vladimir Putin and told reporters that he, Trump, was the “Chosen One” – all within hours of referring to himself as the “King of Israel” and tweeting in all caps: “WHERE IS THE FEDERAL RESERVE?”

What really concerns me is the “Chosen One” and “King of Israel” part. The Guardian even leaves out something even more disturbing, namely that Trump welcomed the comparison between him and the second coming of God:

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A lot has already been written on Trump’s apparent pathological narcissism, and the tweets above provide additional evidence that his view of himself is severely disturbed. Any sane person, regardless of their own religious beliefs, would reject any comparison between themselves and the Creator of the universe.

Bildresultat för nebuchadnezzar statue

The only people I can think of who actually view themselves as being on a divine level are authoritarian dictators of modern communist countries as well as ancient empires in Biblical times. We read in Daniel 6 how the administrators of Babylonian King Darius suggested to him that he signs a decree stating that “anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den”. Rather than saying “That’s outrageous! Do you think I have some kind of god-complex?”, Darius finds it to be a reasonable idea and signs it. As a consequence, the prophet Daniel is later thrown into said lions’ den.

Even in New Testament times, we read in the book of Acts: ”On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts‬ ‭12:21-23‬ ‭).

This is obviously not something that happens to everyone who perceive themselves as divine, as we would have got rid of a lot of dictators if that had been the case, but it clearly expresses how serious the sin of pride is. The original sin in the garden was that Adam and Eve appreciated the temptation of Satan, saying that they would “be like God” if they ate the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:5).

I turn now to my Pentecostal and charismatic brothers and sisters who have welcomed and praised Trump, even saying that resisting him is resisting the will of God, and I ask you: where is your condemnation of blasphemy? Surely, that is a sin according to us all? I’m well aware that our views on peace and justice differ, as well as our interpretation of how well the president is promoting such things.

But even if one agrees with Trump’s policies, surely him announcing himself as the chosen one and welcoming the description “like the second coming of God” should be viewed as utterly blasphemous? How could it be anything else?

9/11 and Puerto Rico: How Presidents Treat 3,000 Dead Americans

Originally posted at PCPJ.

“How can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” – James 2:1.

3,000 people died because of the horrible terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. 3,000 people died because of the horrible hurricane of September 2017.

We all know President Bush’s response to the attacks on World Trade Center. War on terrorism. The Patriot Act. Fear.

The attacks were framed as a national tragedy, Muslims were portrayed as the enemy, violence and surveillance were offered as the solutions.

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The contrast to President Trump’s response to hurricane Maria couldn’t be greater. Trump recently denied on Twitter that 3,000 people died because of the hurricane. He has described the federal relief as “fantastic” even though the infrastructure on the island still is malfunctioning one year later and many children haven’t been able to return to school. (more…)

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

shane claiborne

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…)

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!

Rick Joyner Criticized for Racist Views – by His Daughter

Originally published at PCPJ.

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Rick Joyner

Rick Joyner is Executive Director of MorningStar Ministries and a prophetic minister who has cooperated with various charismatic churches. He has in a recent Facebook video stated that “serious judgment is coming upon our media”, that “Trump has a divine purpose” and that nobody will be able to put him our of office because of that, and in yet another video claimed that Black Lives Matter is a hate group of the worst order and that the rise of white supremacy in America is Barack Obama’s fault.

These comments led Rick’s daughter, Anna Jane Joyner, to post a Facebook video of her own where she in tears apologized to her African American friends and promised to stand by their side:

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Anna Jane Joyner

She says:

[People like my father have] in the last couple of weeks not stood up for what Jesus stood for, and are perpetuating some very dangerous and hurtful narratives and ideas. I wish I could change it. I’m trying my best.

I just want you to know that you aren’t alone, and that I hear you… I’m absolutely standing with you in this very serious sort of battle for the soul of our country.

The video has gone viral, with currently over 70 000 views and almost 1000 shares. In response to this Anna Jane writes: (more…)

Trump’s Nuclear Threats to North Korea and a Horrible Way to Read the Bible

Trump, Jeffress and Kim

Trump, Jeffress and Kim

Originally published at PCPJ.

I was holding my breath the other week when Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump – probably among the most unreliable political leaders of this age – were waging a war of words. Trump said that if Kim continues to threaten the United States they will be met with “fire and fury”, a statement he later said “wasn’t tough enough” (but what could be tougher?). The North Korean leadership almost immediately responded with threats of nuking the American colony of Guam, which likely would start the first nuclear war ever.

Thankfully, Kim later announced that he’s standing by, waiting for the next move by the “stupid yankees”. And I was able to breath again. But I’m taking short breaths, and pray that these madmen will come to their senses.

And then I stumble upon the comments by Southern Baptist Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who as this crisis was at its peak boldly proclaimed that “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un”. So how does Pastor Jeffress defend this claim?

“When it comes to how we should deal with evildoers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil. In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”

Now, it’s important to understand that Jeffress isn’t claiming any personal revelation here: he claims that based on the Bible alone, specifically Romans 13, one can reach the conclusion that God wants Trump to kill Kim. But Romans 13 emphasizes that all governments have the same authority: (more…)

How Trump’s Twitter is Ruining his Presidency

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Originally published at PCPJ.

Donald Trump has been active on Twitter since 2009, avaraging on 11 tweets per day to a total of over 35 000 tweets. For those who take the time to go through the statements, they can basically find every self-contradiction imaginable. Like this one:

And despite once calling his Twitter “so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth“, Trump revealed earlier this year that he doesn’t like Twitter. “I don’t like tweeting, I have other things I could be doing.” The reason, he continued, is that it’s the best way he can counteract “the dishonest press” and tell his true, totally-not-self-contradictory, opinions.

But it’s not just the media he passes by via his Twitter feed. His aides, co-workers, party-members and supporters are increasingly alarmed by how he frequently contradicts the stories they have been sharing with the media to defend his policies. (more…)

Christian Trump Supporters, How Can You Be OK With This?

TLJFPT

Originally published at PCPJ.

Donald Trump has been President of the USA for four months now, and one must be very ignorant or biased not to see that it already has been a chaotic presidency.

Just take the Russia investigation. Recently, American spies uncovered that Russian officials had talked about how to influence Trump through Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, Trump associates with close ties to Russia.

Few have missed how Trump fired James Comey, the director of the FBI that was leading an investigation on the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia. Trump then accidentally revealed to NBC News and to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador that the Russia investigation was his motivation for firing Comey.

Trump’s meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office was unprecedented, and while American media was banned from the meeting, Russian media wasn’t. Reports suggested that Trump shared highly classified code-word intel with the Russians, something his staff denied but Trump himself admitted on Twitter. He then accidentally revealed that the source of the intel was Israel, when he himself was in Israel. (more…)

Christian Climate Change Deniers Don’t Make Any Sense

It seems like most American white evangelicals either believe that man-made climate change is a hoax or that it isn’t important. But why is Christian climate change denial even a thing?

Trump, “Illegal” Immigrants and the Bible

Trump has said that refugees the US is receiving legally are “illegal immigrants”. He’s not the only one misusing the term though, I can’t count how many times American Christians have told me that the biblical commands to welcome and care for the stranger don’t apply to “illegal immigrants”. It’s time to stop using those words and treat everyone equally as human beings created in the image of God.

 

Trump or Jesus: We Do Have to Choose

Originally posted at Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice.

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America’s new President is controversial, to say the least. Saying outrageous things concerning women or ethnic minorities to gain massive media attention and popularity, just to then lie about the statements ever being made, sounds like an absurd way to become the most powerful person in the world. But it tragically seems quite effective.

Hillary Clinton was also criticized for being unreliable when it comes to security and honesty, and so during the election, America found itself in a bizarre situation where most people didn’t really want any of the candidates to become President. It was an election about who you dislike the least rather than who you like the most. When people want a leader with dignity, morals and faithfulness, turning to politicians seems to guarantee a letdown.

Jesus was skeptical to the political way of leadership. He said: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-26). At one point, the crowds that followed him wanted to crown him as king after he had done a miracle, at which point Jesus mysteriously disappeared like Batman (John 6:14-15). (more…)

Jesus Isn’t Post-Truth

Originally posted on Jesus Army’s website.

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Recently Oxford Dictionary announced that the word of the year is “post-truth”. It’s an adjective used when describing how facts and truth take a backseat position in favour of emotions and personal opinion.

During just the last six months people have been increasingly talking about “post-truth politics” and a “post-truth world” as several politicians in the UK and the US have blatantly lied and ignored facts, quoting their own feelings or the feelings of their supporters as sufficient evidence for their positions.

An example of this was when American politician Newt Gingrich argued that the crime level in the US has gone up because “the average American… does not think crime is down”. When challenged by a reporter who quoted FBI statistics that showed the opposite, he simply responded “That’s your view”.

(more…)

Bill Johnson’s Support for Trump Doesn’t Make Any Sense

Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson has written about why he thinks a Bible-believing Christian should support President-elect Donald Trump. He fails miserably. In this video I go through his list of things that he has “found” in the Bible that would defend the goodness of a Trump presidency, and points out why Johnson has an obvious bias for Trump that makes him twist the Scriptures like crazy. I deeply respect him and his charismatic ministry, but his political views are astonishingly off.

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