Re-thinking Romans 13

Romans 13:1-8 is a passage that has been used in ways that are unjust.  It has been used to justify the divine right of kings, to justify slavery, to justify apartheid and segregation.  This text has been used in support of the Just War Theory.  It’s still used in the church to justify oppressive policing and discounting of immigrant’s basic human rights.  If people would just obey the law, the logic goes, then they will be left alone.  But is that what this passage means?  Is Paul saying that that all laws are good? Is he saying that all people are treated equally under the law? Is he saying that laws should be obeyed without question?  These things are often read into the passage making these verses something like a sword to keep oppressed people in their place.  I don’t believe that was Paul’s intent.

Just because a particular action is legal does not mean it is just.  As God’s people it’s imperative that we carefully discern and think through texts like these so that we might walk well in the way of Jesus.  How shall we view this set of scriptures? Continue reading Re-thinking Romans 13

Heidi Baker on Gender Equality in the Church

Heidi Baker, founder and CEO of Iris Global – a missionary organization based in Mozambique – has inspired thousands of Christian women to aspire for leadership positions and reach their full potential. In this video from God TV, she explains some of the reasons we should embrace gender equality in the church. Who honestly thinks their daughter cannot change the world, or that a donkey would be more worthy of sharing God’s word than a woman?

What is the best argument for gender equality according to you?

It’s Impossible to Both Love and Kill Our Enemies

Jesus told us to love our enemies (Mt 5:44). This has been the cornerstone of Christian pacifist theology; whether you look at the early church, or the Anabaptists or the early Pentecostals, they all agreed on that loving enemies is incompatible with killing them, and hence they refused to wage wars or use violence against other human beings.

For this reason, the Christian non-pacifist has to argue for one of the following positions:

  1. Killing is an act of love towards the one you kill.
  2. We should not follow Jesus’ command to love enemies when we decide to kill people.

There are serious problems with both of these ideas. Let’s start with the first one. Continue reading It’s Impossible to Both Love and Kill Our Enemies

The Difference Between Pentecostalism and Christian Pentecostals

As reflective Pentecostals, we have many concerns about the progress of the movement. We know how much it is growing in the world. We know how many marvelous stories and testimonies we can find in our churches, but also we know about the abuse of power. We know about the general rejection of theology; we know about the unconscious politicization. So when we put all that stuff in balance, we have two options: leave or remain. I have to be honest. I left, a few years ago. Disappointed. Sad.

I couldn’t understand how God was working among people who despise to know him. It took me some years to understand that God works wherever he wants. And also, that the rejection of an intellectual knowledge doesn’t mean rejection of other kinds of knowledge. Then I realized how lost I was. I tried — wrongly — to use all the tools I acquired studying, but I forgot that theology is not merely an intellectual discipline, but a way of life. That is the meaning it had for the first Christians. In other words, I discovered that not only my brothers were unconscious about themselves — so was I. Because I hadn’t understand the core of Pentecostalism. Continue reading The Difference Between Pentecostalism and Christian Pentecostals

Charismatics Have A Hope the World Doesn’t Have

lucy peppiattLucy Peppiatt, principal at Westminster Theological Centrehas written an excellent piece on why all Christians should be charismatic and why the risk of “charismania” shouldn’t put us off from seeking the gifts of the Spirit. One of the reasons she gives relates strongly to what I call charismactivism, the fact that Spiritual gifts ought to promote peace, justice and a better world:

I think that most of us feel overwhelmed by the world’s problems. It’s enough to deal with our own and our family’s problems let alone terrorism, unemployment, war, addiction, crime, disease, homelessness, abuse, etc. etc. I’m always astonished and deeply moved by how resilient human beings are in the face of horror, and this seems regardless of whether they have a faith or not. Sometimes humans are just extraordinarily strong. All Christians should carry a hope that good will triumph over evil in the end, because that is the promise of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.

Continue reading Charismatics Have A Hope the World Doesn’t Have

Hijacked Pentecostalism

by Sam Lee. Originally published at his blog.

Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing Christian movements in our world today, especially in the global South. Some Christians in the West admire this growth.  Most of them witness the decline of the organized Christianity in their own countries, while Pentecostalism attracts millions of people in the global South.  As I have been observing, the Western Christians often romanticize the growing Pentecostalism in the South!

As a full time Pentecostal (Non-Western) pastor and a sociologist I have several reasons to be concerned about the current condition of Pentecostalism in the South:

There is an emerging radicalism among the Pentecostals in the South. This radicalism does more harm than good, especially in the Non-Western world. Radicalism that is proclaimed from the pulpits of the fundamentalist Pentecostals offers no room for dialogue, and communication with those who are different. Such Pentecostals do not easily accept peoples from other Christian denominations, let alone those from other faiths.

Continue reading Hijacked Pentecostalism

Philoxenia: Love of the Stranger

What is Philoxenia? When I first heard this word, I wondered if I had just stumbled upon a new kind of flower, Philoxenia… sort of like a Xenia or phlox or a Xenia crossed with a phlox to create a whole new flower.  It’s not a flower, it is the Greek word for Hospitality.  It literally means Philo or Love; Xenia or Stranger; put together it means LOVE OF STRANGER. 

Hospitality then is the act of making strangers feel loved, as if they belong, welcome—like family.  Hospitality is another thread that is woven throughout the entire Bible. 

Growing up in the church, hospitality was more about making sure the coffee was on and the donuts and cookies were placed out on the serving table.  We had a hospitality committee, usually made up of women, who made sure there were plenty of good things to eat and coffee to drink—cool-aid for the children and decaf for the senior folks.  And we would gather in the fellowship hall after the morning service to share in a time of “fellowship”.  Because what else would one do in a fellowship hall?  I loved this time because it meant that I could play just a bit longer with my friends before we all went home for Sunday dinner.  Continue reading Philoxenia: Love of the Stranger

Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice