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Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

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Is the Vatican about to Reject Just War Teaching?

vatican

A week ago, Catholic Herald reported that a conference hosted by the Vatican on war and peace rejected just war teaching and call upon pope Francis to make nonviolence the official Catholic stance. The conference had been welcomed and blessed by the pope according to the Vatican Radio as he thanked the participants for “revitalizing the tools of non-violence”.

The conference was hosted by pacifist Catholic organization Pax Christi as well as the Pontifical council on justice and peace. In an appeal directed at the pope, the around 80 participants wrote:

“Too often the ‘just war theory’ has been used to endorse rather than prevent or limit war. Suggesting that a ‘just war’ is possible also undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacities for nonviolent transformation of conflict… We need a new framework that is consistent with Gospel nonviolence. We propose that the Catholic Church develop and consider shifting to a Just Peace approach based on Gospel nonviolence.”

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The Top 5 Popular Posts on Holy Spirit Activism in 2014

Possibly a new logo for Holy Spirit Activism. Tell me if you like it!

Possibly a new logo for Holy Spirit Activism. Tell me if you like it!

As always, the WordPress “stats monkeys” has produced a summary of the past blog year that you can find here. I thank God that the blog is growing and pray that He will lead me and others to inspire more and more people to become radical, charismatic Jesus hippies, combining miracles with evangelism and activism.

Here’s the top five viewed posts during 2014:

1. The Kundalini Myth. This post was actually written in 2013, but people keeps finding it on Google, and it’s the most commented post on this blog as well as the most viewed one. Many Christians believe in Andrew Strom’s claim that large parts of the charismatic movement are influenced by the Hindu kundalini sect, but thankfully many are also questioning this ridiculous claim, and I hope that my blog post has convinced some that Strom’s Kundalini warning is a myth.

2. Compelled by Love Movie Review. This amazing documentary on the lives of Heidi and Rolland Baker and their ministry Iris Global was released in January, and although the audience may be somewhat limited thousands have found my movie review through Google. Maybe I should do some reviews more often? 🙂

3. Pope Francis: “The Charismatic Movement is Necessary”. I’ve written about Francis a couple of times, and even though I don’t agree with Catholic doctrine on several spots I think his passion for evangelism, poverty reduction, peacemaking and Spiritual gifts is absolutely awesome, since I’m also passionate about evangelism, poverty reduction, peacemaking and Spiritual gifts. In this post I highlighted his positive words about the charismatic movement in his famous meeting with journalists on the pope plane from Rio back to Rome, and the post sparked some controversy but also excitement. (more…)

Miracles According to a Charismatic, Lutheran and Catholic Church Leader

three church leaders

Let me present to you my independent essay in systematic theology: Are Miracles Real. Click the link to download it as a PDF. If you don’t like PDF, you can download it as a Word-document

In the essay I study how three church leaders view miracles: Surprise Sithole, charismatic apostolic leader in southern Africa, K.G. Hammar, archbishop emeritus of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, and pope Francis. I’ve already presented to you the miracles of Surprise Sithole and pope Francis’ view on miracles on this blog. The viewpoint of K.G. Hammar, however, is radically different – he doesn’t believe that miracles in the traditional, supernatural sense exists. I have tried to identify what arguments each church leader uses to defend their viewpoint, and then I analyze whether these arguments are reasonable and sound.

Surprise Sithole is a strong believer in miracles, basing this on his miraculous experiences and a literal reading of the Bible. K.G. Hammar does not believe that miracles happen, based on science, his metaphorical Bible reading and non-supernaturalist experiences. Pope Francis believes, like Sithole, in miracles both as Biblical and contemporary events, and like Hammar, he believes that science confirms his view. He interprets the Bible both literally and metaphorically, and his experience and church tradition confirm his supernaturalist belief.

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Pope Francis’ View on Miracles

Pope Francis blesses a sick man, right before praying an exorcist prayer

Pope Francis blesses a sick man, right before praying an exorcist prayer

As you may know, I’m writing a thesis in systematic theology about belief in miracles according to three church leaders: Surprise Sithole, K.G. Hammar and pope Francis. This is what I’ve found concerning the pope’s view on miracles:

Jose Mario Bergoglio, who would become Pope Francis, was born in in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1936. After a brief career as a chemical technician and a bar bouncer, he studied theology to become a Jesuit and a priest. In 1992 he became bishop of Buenos Aires and in 1998 archbishop of the same. He became known for his care for the poor and marginalised and was called “bishop of the slums”.

In Latin America, the charismatic movement is growing fast, both outside and inside the Catholic church. After Bergoglio became a pope, he would reveal how his view of the charismatic movement changed during the 80’s and 90’s, from skeptical to welcoming:

I’ll tell you something about the Charismatic Movement … at the end of the ’70s and in the ’80s, I wasn’t a big fan. I used to say they confused the holy liturgy with a school of samba. I was converted when I got to know them better and saw the good they do. In this moment of the life of the church, the movements are necessary. They’re a grace of the Spirit, and in general, they do much good for the church. The charismatic renewal movement isn’t just about winning back a few Pentecostals, but it serves the church and its renewal.

In 1996 to 1999, bishop Bergoglio was involved in the process of verifying a eucharistic miracle, where a host had allegedly turned into a piece of flesh in a church in central Buenos Aires. According to an article in Catholic magazine Love One Another, Bergoglio ordered that the host should be photographed and scientifically analyzed. The article says that Dr. Ricardo Castanón sent it for analysis in New York, and he was told that the substance was a fine slice of a heart muscle. Dr Castanon speak about this himself in a video that can be found on YouTube:

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Francis – the Charismatic Hippie Pope

Pope Francis, in a Brazilian favela

Pope Francis, in a Brazilian favela

Who would have thought that a Jesus freak would become pope? The main focus of this blog has always been that signs and wonders need to be combined with peace and justice – charismatic Christians need to be activists and activist Christians need to be charismatic – since this is what Jesus taught to His disciples and Holy Spirit activism has the power to transform lives and bring hope in even greater ways that non-supernatural activism. Unfortunately, a lot of times charismatic and evangelical Christians are not huge fans of peace and justice – something that is painfully obvious when you see what many of them write about the Gaza war – and many Christian activists are not very charismatic or evangelical.

But there is, I believe, a growing movement within Christianity that realizes that a charismatic life in the Spirit should be combined with activism for a better world; a movement that crosses all denominations, places and cultures. And by God’s grace we have a sympathizer among the leader of the biggest church in the world: pope Francis.

Few have missed that Francis is a passionate advocate for peace and justice: he has criticized capitalism for neglecting the poor, he lives simply and promotes economic equality, he has prayed for peace in the Middle East both at the Western wall and at the West Bank wall. But what not as many know is that Francis also is a charismatic pope, who believes in Spiritual gifts and who blesses both the Catholic charismatic renewal and Pentecostals.

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Obama says that we should live “environmentally friendly like Jesus”

(This is a April’s Fools joke. Obama would never say this, unfortunately).

I was really discouraged when I heard about the new IPCC report, which shows that unless we change our lifestyle quickly we will be heading for disaster that will kill and damage millions of people, especially in poor countries. However, I was very pleased to see President Barack Obama’s response to the report; firstly because he acknowledge that a quick lifestyle change is necessary, and secondly because he referred to Jesus Christ when seeking for inspiration for this lifestyle change. The Guardian reports:

“What we now have is a massive environmental crisis that requires urgent action,” Obama told reporters. “My meeting with pope Francis the other day reminded me of the simplicity and charity of Jesus of Nazareth, a person that is of great inspiration not only to me personally but to millions of other Americans. Christians, of course, but also Muslims, Hindus, and non-believers.”

The president argued that Jesus lived “environmentally friendly” by using a sail boat and his mere feet as means of transport, creating food and other resources out of thin air and commanding the rich to sell everything they have and give the money to the poor. Likewise, Obama said that the United States must end its consumer culture, quickly reduce its emmissions and increase its aid to developing countries.

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The Merging of Neo-Pentecostalism and Roman Catholicism

Francis and Kenneth

Francis and Kenneth

Many were surprised a couple of weeks ago when pope Francis sent a message to a Word of Faith conference led by Kenneth Copeland, speaking about unity and asking them to bless and pray for him, as he blesses and prays for them. And Copeland got excited and blessed him back. It’s surprising because Francis and Copeland are very distant theologically – besides the usual differences between Catholicism and Pentecostal Protestantism, Francis is a guy who is well-known for economic simplicity and an emphasis on redistribution to the poor, while Copeland is well-known for his capitalist prosperity preaching. He not only owns a mansion worth 6 million dollars and several private jet planes, but also his own freakin’ airport, Kenneth Copeland Airport, where he stores his private jet planes close to his 6 million dollar-mansion!

However, this surprise doesn’t come close to what Christians in Sweden experienced two days ago when it was revealed that Ulf Ekman, the leader of the Word of Faith movement in Scandinavia, converts to Roman Catholicism. Ulf Ekman is probably the most well-known Swedish Christian living today, his international ministry reaches millions and he is well-known among both Christians and non-Christians, mostly because he manages to be constantly controversial.

He brought the “name it claim it”-teaching from Kenneth Hagin and Oral Roberts to northern Europe, emphasizing health, wealth and success, and gathered prayer warriors wanted charismatic revival in Sweden and political domination for Israel in the middle east. And they despised Catholics, arguing that they represented a dead religion that quenched the Spirit and stood for countless heresies.

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Pope Francis: “The Charismatic Movement is Necessary”

Francis among the people

Francis among the people

Pope Francis is hotter than ever, being Time’s person of the year and all, and people are continously thrilled to see that this is a pope who really cares about the poor and wounded, a pope that criticizes capitalism, wash the feet of young prisoners, and invites the homeless for his birthday meal. A recent article in the Huffington Post discusses how Francis clearly has been impacted by Latin American liberation theology, and it also points out that his Argentinian background has left an impact on him that is seldomly discussed in the media, namely charismatic fire.

On his flight from Rio de Janeiro back to Rome, pope Francis said:

I’ll tell you something about the Charismatic Movement … at the end of the ’70s and in the ’80s, I wasn’t a big fan. I used to say they confused the holy liturgy with a school of samba. I was converted when I got to know them better and saw the good they do. In this moment of the life of the church, the movements are necessary. They’re a grace of the Spirit, and in general, they do much good for the church. The charismatic renewal movement isn’t just about winning back a few Pentecostals, but it serves the church and its renewal.

(more…)

Pope Francis, Capitalism and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Francis. Photo: Tomaz Silva

Francis. Photo: Tomaz Silva

I told you he would be a good pope! Francis has become extremely popular both within and outside the Catholic world. He both teaches and practices simplicity and mercy; he wears simple clothes and refuses to live in the fancy apostolic palace while emphasizing the duty of Christians to embrace the poor, wounded and lost. Recently, his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium has received a lot of attention in the media. It is mainly about evangelism and missions, but what has caught the attention of many is his criticism of capitalism:

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?

“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”

Many are quite surprised by this and speculate whether it is an influence of Latin American liberation theology, since pope Francis comes from Argentina. However, while Francis definitely has a stronger emphasis on social justice than his predecessors, this thoughts should probably by no means have been alien to them. John Paul II wrote in his encyclical letter Centesimus Annus:

“It would appear that, on the level of individual nations and of international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs. But this is true only for those needs which are ‘solvent’, insofar as they are endowed with purchasing power, and for those resources which are ‘marketable’, insofar as they are capable of obtaining a satisfactory price. But there are many human needs which find no place on the market. It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied and not to allow those burdened by such needs to perish.”

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Francis – a Good Name for an Activist Wonder-Worker

image

Pope Francis

As I hoped, we got a non-European pope! And as I suspected, the non-European pope was quite passionate for social justice. Even though some question marks have been raised concerning Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s actions during the Argentinian civil war in the 70’s, few can deny that he has been working hard against inequality, poverty and oppression as archbishop of Buenos Aires. He combines this activism with simplicity – as a cardinal, he lived in an ampartment instead of the usual palace, he took the bus instead of his chaffeur-driven car, and he cooked his own meal.

Many has pointed to the fact that his papal name, Francis, expresses this concern for the poor. S:t Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) sure was a radical, Christ-like activist. He sold everything he had, preached simplicity, loved the poor, criticised the rich and proclaimed the Kingdom of God. However, the new Pope is said to have another Francis in mind as well: S:t Francis Xavier (1506-1552). He is less well-known but just as radical – as a missionary in Asia he worked hard for poverty reduction and development while he was also spreading the Gospel.

Both of these Francises were charismatic activists. They combined their passion för justice and evangelism with marvelous signs and wonders in the power of the Holy Spirit. Francis of Assisis most famous miracle is probably the stigmata – the wounds of Christ supernaturally appearing on his body. But he experienced a lot. Marilynn Hughes writes:

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