Some people insist that the only reason that neither Jesus nor anyone else in the first several centuries of the church tried to dominate the political system of their day was because they were a small minority of people living in a nondemocratic and hostile environment. By contrast, the argument goes, American Christians are a sizable group living in a rather friendly, democratic land, and we are able to at least improve, if not someday dominate, our government and culture.
And since to whom much is given much is required (Lk 12:48), do we not have a spiritual and moral obligation to use this opportunity to the full advantage of the kingdom of God?
In this light, the argument concludes, to shirk the opportunity to rule because we are afraid of compromising our kingdom calling is irresponsible, pharisaical, and cowardly. The argument seems to make so much sense.
People often ask me: “Why do so many evangelical Christians support Trump?” . It’s a good question. What is with having a high view of Scripture that leads people to celebrate someone who in so many ways doesn’t sound and act like Jesus?
Micael Grenholm is a Swedish pastor, author and editor for PCPJ.
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 become a member!
During the 2012 presidential elections in the United States, there was moment during the Republican primary debates that struck me. Ron Paul paraphrased the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Another way of stating it is, treat others as you would want to be treated. This statement is very important because it is the foundation of almost every moral system. It is something that is taught to most small children, in many cultures and by most religions and philosophies.
Most importantly, the Golden Rule was taught by Jesus. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus said, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets”, and in Luke 6:31 He said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Ron Paul paraphrased Jesus Christ in the 2012 Republican primary debate. He specifically cited this teaching in reference to war, as Congressman Paul has been pretty consistently against war. What happen to Paul is remarkable. The entire audience booed him! A US congressman and presidential candidate was booed for quoting Jesus, and this was in the Republican Party, which is supposed to be the party of Christian values. This incident can be viewed in several places online. I suggest watching it:
Last week I got an invitation from one of my online communities to join a group called “Christian Patriots.” When new groups are formed, the platform’s algorithm decides who might be a good fit for it. Because I am a member of other Christian groups, the algorithm chose me.
Here is how the “Christian Patriots” group describes itself:
“A caring group of people who love Jesus and our beloved America…. We believe in God and Country, and we celebrate all that God has blessed us with. Our guiding principle is: We serve God our Father, and His son Jesus, who died for our sins. Our guiding documents are the Holy Bible and the U.S. Constitution. The symbols of our beliefs are the Cross and the American flag.”
Many such groups exist in the United States today. As a Christian who is also a United States citizen—a country in the midst of a white nationalist resurgence—I felt called to blog about this expression of it here.
Why are many American Pentecostals disobedient regarding efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19? Are Pentecostals and Charismatics in other parts of the world behaving differently? How was the strong faith in healing that characterized early Pentecostals impacted by the pandemic known as the “Spanish Flu”?
A few weeks ago, PCPJ gathered a panel of scholars and Pentecostal leaders to discuss these important questions. The panel consisted of:
– Jörg Haustein, doctor of World Christianities, University of Cambridge. – Erica Ramirez, president of PCPJ, director of applied research, Auburn Seminary. – Daniel Isgrigg, director for the Holy Spirit Research Center, Oral Roberts University. – Niclas Lindgren, director, PMU Interlife. – Andrea Johnson, Assistant Professor of History, California State University DH. – Micael Grenholm, pastor, editor at PCPJ.
Everybody brought interesting food for thought to the table. Isgrigg compared Pentecostal reactions to the Spanish Flu with what we see today. Ramirez spoke about what aspects of the Pentecostal faith makes it vulnerable to conspiracy theories. Haustein pointed to the nuance between different Pentecostal and Charismatic groups even in the same country. Johnson gave a historical backdrop to how American Pentecostals view politics.
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”).
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). Continue reading Evangelical Hypocrisy extends far beyond Jerry Falwell Jr.→
I was born into Christ’s family through a Charismatic church as a preacher’s kid and was deeply involved in churches of that type until my early 30s. Today, while grateful for the home the introduced me to the God of the universe, I can barely recognize her.
The people that brought me to Jesus betrayed me.
They exchanged the genuine gospel of love for the allure of success. At times, I am even ashamed of my heritage. What brought me joy and comfort became memories of disappointment, manipulation, and hypocrisy.
While not solely because of it, this predicament came full circle when I witnessed leaders I respected enthusiastically vote and support a candidate that was the antithesis of the Christ they taught me. Have I been deceived all along?
While there are no statistics on P&C (Pentecostal and Charismatic) support for Donald Trump, I would not be surprised if that number was north to the often quoted 81% of white evangelicals who voted for him in 2016. And as a diverse group as few in the US, the vote is not limited to whites only but probably cuts through a majority of Hispanics if not even African American P&C.
The topic of the pacifism in the early church is something I have written about before for PCPJ. However, in our world it often needs repeating and restating. The Church has often fallen into the temptations of politics and militarism. This is clearly seen in the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement, which leaned towards pacifism in its early years, but became tolerant towards nationalism and militarism within only a few decades.
In the United States, we are in the midst of two events that make the topic of Christian pacifism relevant: 1. We are in the midst of a very brutal election season, and 2. We are approaching the 19th anniversary of the War on Terror, specifically the war in Afghanistan (which officially began October 7, 2001). It is the longest war in American history. Of course, PCPJ is an international organization, just as the Church is an international organization, but I think these are universal issues, and the war in Afghanistan includes many countries (including all of NATO). Additionally, PCPJ was founded in that time and context.
Considering that we have been in constant war for almost 20 years, I think it is time for Christians in the West to look back to our roots again and to not be seduced by politics or nationalism. What would Jesus say and do if He was here today? What would He say to a supposedly “Christian nation”? What would the prophets, apostles, and church fathers say in this time? Specifically, we should look at the early church. After all, Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity is primarily about revival – an attempt at recovering the Christianity of the apostolic age. Continue reading Was the Early Church Really Pacifist?→
“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!”