God’s Love Doesn’t Stop at the Border

Our friend Shane Claiborne recently remarked on Twitter:

I can’t imagine Jesus waving an American flag any more than I can imagine him wearing a “God bless Rome” shirt.

Patriotism is too small.

Our Bible doesn’t say “For God so loved America”… it says “For God so loved the world.”

America First is a theological heresy.

Skärmavbild 2020-07-12 kl. 13.31.25
Nope. Doesn’t look right to me either.

Claiborne continued:

Mother Teresa used to say that “the circle we put around our family is too small.”

We limit who we love to biology or nationality.

That’s the problem with patriotism – it’s too small. We are to love as big as God loves.

And God’s love doesn’t stop at the border.

Cover photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

Three Biblical Methods for Handling Conflict

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: Continue reading Three Biblical Methods for Handling Conflict

Why Christians Should Support the Marches Against Racism

by Craig S. Keener, originally published on his blog.

One of my recent posts showed the local protest march in which my wife and I participated, and which our teenage daughter helped organize. One honest question has come up so often in response that I want to address it here.

Would Jesus have attended such a march, some have asked? Marching in parades aside, some feel that marching for racial justice, for the unborn or for other specific causes that suggest protest are inconsistent with proper Christian meekness. (I am assuming that those asking the question are also pacifists, since violence, and especially lethal violence, seems much less meek than nonviolent protests.) So, in consultation with my daughter Keren, I offer the following considerations.

keener_family
The Keener family

Why march?

First, it may be helpful to note the purpose of marching. Marching commands public attention in the way that individual voices often cannot. It also provides solidarity for the hurting and fearful. It lets them know that they are not alone; for the sake of the unity of the church that has too long been divided by race, now is an opportunity for non-black Christians to stand with our African-American brothers and sisters. Continue reading Why Christians Should Support the Marches Against Racism

Exorcising the Demon of White Supremacy

[Note: A longer version of this post appears at the author’s personal blog, Just Theology.]

“Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”  Luke 9:1–2, NRSV

“But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” Luke 11:20

Two years ago, near the end of my second year of seminary, I drove over six hours, alone, to attend the Red Letter Revival. I was eager to live into the call to social justice that my school taught, but felt something was missing. Incomplete. Responding to the persistent tug of the Holy Spirit, I drove those long hours to see what that missing piece might be.

At the event, pastor Jonathan Martin delivered a sermon on the evil of white supremacy in the United States. A self-identified “hillbilly Pentecostal,” he named evils at work that I had not heard voiced at my progressive, social-justice-centered seminary. While my school preached against white supremacy, Martin called it out as an ancient principality. Then he spoke a word I would never hear in a sermon at chapel: exorcism. The United States, he preached, needed an exorcism from the principality of white supremacy. Continue reading Exorcising the Demon of White Supremacy

Black Lives Must Matter: A Historical Pentecostal Response

by U-Wen Low, originally published here, reposted with permission.

Many Pentecostal Christians have been divided in how to respond to recent events. The rallying cry for most (as it has been for years) is “Black Lives Matter,” a statement which shocks us with its brazenness; it highlights the fact that African-American lives in particular are at disproportionately high risk in the United States, and has forced many of us to consider our own nations’ treatment of African-American and First Nations people.

Given the complexity of the issues, it can be extraordinarily difficult to formulate a coherent, careful response – so many of us have stayed silent.

However, it is imperative for the people of God to respond, and indeed many church organisations have already added their voices to the conversation. How, then, should Pentecostals seek to respond to these issues in a Godly way, led by the Holy Spirit?

Let us do so by reminding ourselves of the history of our movement. Like many such reflections, we begin in Acts, where the Holy Spirit falls with tongues of fire upon men and women, Jew and Gentile, causing no small amount of controversy.

The early church is prompted by the Spirit to challenge both injustice and domination; throughout the narrative of Acts, we see the early Christians (an underprivileged minority group) given agency through the Spirit, fighting persecution through acts of love and kindness – and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, to the point of martyrdom.

Of course, let us not forget that Jesus himself died alongside criminals, viewed as a criminal and disproportionately punished, murdered by an oppressive system. Continue reading Black Lives Must Matter: A Historical Pentecostal Response

Six Ways Christians Should Respond to the #BlackLivesMatter Protests

Agu Irukwu, senior pastor of the Jesus House and the Pentecostal President of Churches Together in England, recently shared on Premier Christianity the six kinds of responses he would like to see from Christians in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the protests that are going on:

1. Empathize

“I understand how frustrations can boil over as a result of an incident like this.”

2. Pray

“As a Christian, it is one of the most effective things I can do.”

3. Share a message of love and forgiveness

“This does not in any way trivialise the very real pain, hurt and frustrations that are being experienced by many African Americans who suffer the impact of an ingrained racial bias in the system.”

4. Speak out

“Evil and injustice thrives when good people do not speak out.”

5. Name and address institutional racism in your country

“We have inherent inequalities in our own systems. The institutional racism that exists must be named and addressed.”

6. Build on the work already being done

“I am resolved that I will do all that I can in my various capacities to encourage more representation of black and ethnic minorities in our institutions.”

Read more at the website of Premier Christianity.

ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & 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 become a member!

Fundamentalism & Nationalism: Two Dominant Heresies in American Christianity

by Maximus Nyssen.

As I continue to survey the American Christian landscape regarding responses to the coronavirus pandemic, my disappointment and bewilderment grows daily. Much of the responses from the Evangelical community – and especially those within the Pentecostal-Charismatic framework – have been frankly dangerous, conspiratorial, hyper partisan, scientifically illiterate and theologically bankrupt.

There are two dominant heresies alive in American Christianity today, which would be fundamentalism and nationalism.

Fundamentalism advocates an entirely unhistorical theological viewpoint that the Bible is a scientific textbook, and that any scientific hypothesis, theory, or fact that “opposes” some supposed scientific principle believed to be written in the Bible must be rejected as some sort of atheist attack on the faith.

This is a fairly modern heresy, one that entirely rejects historical theological discovery and exegetical studies, and only really came into prominence in the earlier part of the 20th Century. No one in antiquity, the early church, or the vast majority of the history of the Church held to any notion of fundamentalism.

Nationalism advocates the view that America is God’s “special nation” and that this nation is the best nation that’s ever existed anywhere, and implicitly propagates that all other nations, peoples, and races have something defective, lacking, wrong, or even evil in them. Continue reading Fundamentalism & Nationalism: Two Dominant Heresies in American Christianity

Black Vineyard Pastors: “We’re Tired of Being Angry”

Earlier this year, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was killed by two men who approached him with their pickup truck while he was jogging. These men were not arrested until a video of the murder went viral.

Our friends at the Vineyard Justice Network has posted a statement by a group of black pastors in the Vineyard USA. Among other things, they write:


How long, Lord, must [we] call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make [us] look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before [us]; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. Habakkuk 1:2-4

Written on 5/8, what would have been Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday.

We’re angry. We’re tired. We’re tired of being angry.

There is nothing different about this time except that we are in a pandemic. A pandemic that disproportionately affects Black and Brown bodies, due to unequal access to healthcare, food and other life essentials. A pandemic that has us saying goodbye to our parents, grandparents and relatives at an alarming rate. A pandemic that compels us to wear masks when we know what the consequences could be – dangers that run deeper than the risk of infection.

Besides that, what’s different?

A Black man’s life taken by a family affair: a father and a son.

A Black man’s life taken by a family affair: a nation stuck in cycles of racialized violence and death.

This isn’t new. It’s history.

Lynchings were public gatherings — spectacles where human bodies, still alive, were stripped, tortured, dismembered, sometimes burned, and left to die. Community is not supposed to be like this. Our churches, too, are public gatherings — a place where the Body, however broken, can seek healing from the One with pierced hands. And yet, as pastors, we can simply feel responsible for informing the church about these tragedies, even as we hurt inside, barely having had time to process them ourselves. The Church is more than a place to announce Black Death, it is a Body meant to uplift Black Life.

This uplift involves looking sin and evil in the face and standing against it. As Jeannine Hill Fletcher says, “If Christians desire a world of racial justice and religious integrity, understanding the sin of white supremacy and Christian theology’s role within it is our only way forward.”

God does not look away from the pain and affliction of his people.

Neither do we.


Read the full statement here.

Editor’s note: Less than two weeks after this statement was released, George Floyd was killed by a policeman in Minneapolis, making it even more relevant.

Why Are Pentecostals Around the World Supporting the Far-Right?

In our Facebook forum, the issue of Pentecostal politics was raised recently by a friend of the ministry, Elias Kruger:

I would like to pose a question to this group. While I am greatly encouraged by PCPJ work, I have noticed that Pentecostals (and apostolic movements in general) tend to align squarely with right-wing politics. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the recent election of both Trump in the US and Bolsonaro in Brazil.

Living in these two countries and growing up in Charismatic circles, this was a dominant reality. Why do you think Pentecostals tend to align with authoritarian right-wing leaders? Is there something about our theology or praxis that needs to change?

Here are some of the responses that were given:

The problem is that people confuse Holy Spirit power with guys who make a big noise and sound confident. CEO disease. You see how successful Mr. Exceptional President has been with that.  Continue reading Why Are Pentecostals Around the World Supporting the Far-Right?

Pentecostal World Fellowship Aims to Inform 100 Million People in Developing Countries About 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!

Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice