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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…)
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.
Brian Pipkin’s and Jay Beaman’s new book documents some of the pacifist and social justice convictions of early Pentecostals, many of whom were called traitors, slackers, cranks, and weak-minded people for extending Jesus’ love beyond racial, ethnic, and national boundaries.
They wrestled with citizenship and Jesus’ prohibitions on killing.
They rejected nation-worship, war profiteering, wage slavery, patriotic indoctrination, militarism, and Wall Street politics–and many suffered for it.
They criticized governments and churches that, in wartime, endorsed the very thing forbidden in their sacred book and civil laws.
They recognized the dangers of loving your country too much, even more than Jesus and his words, and viewed nation-loyalty as a distraction from a higher and more inclusive loyalty–devotion to God. (more…)
Yesterday I volunteered at the Northampton Jesus Centre, a social centre run by the Jesus Army in a former cinema. People with various needs come here, and I’ve had some great talks with several of them; listening, testifying and praying. I also got to help the Centre out with their Facebook communication, being an Internet junkie and all.
The Lord called me to do social ministry with the poor seven years ago. A dear friend and brother of mine had left the faith, and as I prayed about this with some friends on a Christian community conference in Stockholm a guy called Nils received a prophetic word. He said that the Lord wanted me to use my hands in serving the poor, and out my theoretical theological understanding of the importance of economic equality into practical love. When I did this, my friend would come back to Jesus.
I then became involved in the Uppsala City Mission’s work with the homeless and drug addicts. I learned a lot and became more social, which also benefited my evangelism. I continued to serve the poor practically and eventually started my own organization, Stefanushjälpen or St Stephen’s Help. And my friend did come back to Jesus and is very zealous for Him nowadays. (more…)
You know what’s awesome? Miracles! You know what’s also awesome? Social justice! Let’s combine the two, like Jesus did. The Spiritual gifts that God has equipped His church with are supposed to be used to serve others (1 Peter 4:10), and obviously our activism for a more equal and just world will be even more effective when the Holy Spirit empowers us with supernatural abilities. A couple of months ago I hold a lecture on this core idea of Holy Spirit Activism:
It’s super-obvious that miracles and social justice go hand-in-hand in the Holy Scriptures: the Old Testament prophets exercised many miraculous gifts while promoting the rights of the poor and marginalised (see for example the book of Amos); Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons right before His famous Sermon on the Mount about social ethics (Mt 5); and as the apostolic church was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues they eradicated the gap between rich and poor through community of goods (Acts 2).
In the lecture I go through these and other relevant Bible passages, as well as sharing testimonies from people today who combine miracles and social justice, like Simon Adahl and Heidi Baker. I also bring up and criticize theologians and philosophers who deny the existence of miracles or at least its presence in the life of the ordinary believer, like David Hume, Rudolf Bultmann and John MacArthur. Enjoy the video!
Once again, conflict is escalating between Israel and Gaza, and once again, Christians are blessing Israel and ignoring the suffering of Palestinians. My heart breaks when I look at Christians United for Israel’s Facebook page: while they pray for, bless and worry for Israeli victims of Palestinian terror attacks, which is great, there is no sympathy at all for Palestinian victims of Israeli bombings. There is great alarm about the rockets that Hamas fires at Israeli cities, which yet have not killed anyone in the current conflict, while the 70+ Palestinians that have died (including at least eight children) aren’t even mentioned!
Don’t get me wrong, what Hamas is doing is totally unacceptable and we need to pray and act for them to stop. But killing people is not the best way to stop them. It didn’t work in 2012, it won’t work know. When Hamas sees that Israel kills children, they won’t feel less keen to fire their rockets. Violence is a very bad way to end violence, Jesus taught us to love our enemies, do good to them and fight evil with love.
The best way to stop the conflict between Israel and Palestine is through social justice and economic equality. The relationship between Israel and Palestine is very unequal: Palestinians are poorer, live shorter, have worse health care, own less land and suffer more than Israelis. Gaza is experiencing a humanitarian crisis while Israel is enjoying Western standards. And much more Palestinians die in the conflict compared to Israelis.