Pentecostals vs the Empire

by Luis Aranguiz Kahn.

It is a known story that some group of radical Jews wanted to go against the Roman Empire fighting for the independence of the land of Israel. In such a context, the figure of Jesus was at least contradictory. He claimed to be a king though without a land to rule, he said his realm was not of this world and he proclaimed freedom for the slaves, but not Israeli independence. It was understandable to see some Jews rejecting him, because why should we follow a liberator that can’t give political freedom?

This story has a different meaning depending on the place where it is remembered. For instance, it is not the same to speak about it being a Christian of a first world country like England -that was a big Christian empire until just some years ago- or United States -that still looks to be like a kind of empire for many parts of the world-, than to reflect on it from a third world country like a Latin-American one. Continue reading Pentecostals vs the Empire

A Pentecostal Alternative to Dispensationalism

by Tony Richie. Part 3 of 3 (part 1, part 2). Read the whole article as a PDF here.

A Provocative Theology

R. Hollis Gause, a prominent Pentecostal theologian (Church of God, Cleveland, TN), elucidates an alternative to fundamentalist dispensationalism through a careful comparison-contrast of dispensational theology and a theology of progressive revelation. Gause explains that progressive revelation does not divide up biblical history as dispensationalism. It does not hermeneutically distinguish between the Church, Israel, and the kingdom of God. The nature of God, the history of salvation, and the character of the people of God are progressively revealed. Earlier events anticipate and predict later events. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit gives Scripture a progressive and even prophetic or predictive quality.

In stark contrast to the hermeneutical compartmentalizing of dispensationalism, progressive revelation affirms a more unified approach to biblical interpretation and understanding. Gause concludes that “the view of progressive and unified revelation of the history of salvation offers the better interpretation of Scripture.” For Gause, considerations of the unchangeableness and unity of God and God’s Word consistently lead to this conclusion.[12] Continue reading A Pentecostal Alternative to Dispensationalism

The Lord’s Supper Crosses All Borders

The Bible is filled with images of Jesus eating with people, hanging out with people, welcoming people, eating with all sorts of seemly and unseemly people.  He was accused of eating with tax collectors and sinners… seriously, the worst kind of people.  While invited to the table of Simon the Pharisee (who did not wash his feet and welcome him) in Luke 7, he was adequately welcomed by the sinful woman who crashed the party and washed Jesus feet with her hair.

Even in the book of Acts one of their first controversies was over who they should eat with… Gentiles or their own kind and whether they should eat–meat sacrificed to idols or not?  Paul and Peter clashed in the Epistles over the fact that Peter had avoided eating with Gentiles because the Judizer’s might disapprove and consider him defiled for sharing the table with Gentile believers.   Somehow the idea of eating and drinking is tied up with the new community that has been created in Christ Jesus. Continue reading The Lord’s Supper Crosses All Borders

Raising the Dead and Helping the Poor: The Life of Surprise Sithole

In 2013, I visited Iris Global in South Africa. On the third day of my trip, I was helping the men and children to cook food on a women’s conference. Suddenly a jeep with the Iris logo appeared, and out stepped a man whose big smile I recognized so well. “Surprise! Wow, I’m so glad to meet you! I’ve read your book!!” The smiling apostle shook my hand, told me I was welcome, guided some ladies to the jeep and then pointed at me: “Micael, get into the car!”

We dropped off lady after lady until we arrived to the house of the last one, where all three of us entered. There was a very, very thin and weak man. I didn’t catch what condition he was suffering from, but I eagerly joined Surprise in praying for his healing. Then we left, and Surprise drove me back to the conference.

I met this man’s wife some weeks later. He has had severe problems with his liver and kidneys as well as TB, and has not been working since October last year. However, now he started to feel much better, he went to the doctor last week – and the doctor pronounced him 100 % well. He started working again last Wednesday. Glory to God!

Continue reading Raising the Dead and Helping the Poor: The Life of Surprise Sithole

Community of Goods: Economics According to the New Testament

The original movement behind modern Charismatic Christianity is Pentecostalism. The name “Pentecostal”, as we all likely know, comes directly from the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. In that chapter, on the day of Pentecost (referring to the fiftieth day after Passover), the early church received an amazing gift (charism): the Holy Spirit descended upon them. The Bible says:

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability (Acts 2:1-4).

The story of Pentecost is powerful. It testifies to us the importance of the Spirit in the church. However, we in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement have a tendency to stop reading the chapter not long after this. We heavily emphasize spiritual gifts and revival, but we ignore the following verses in this chapter, in which the early church’s social dynamic is described to us. Continue reading Community of Goods: Economics According to the New Testament

Millions of Evangelicals Did Not Vote for Trump – and I’m One of Them

by Craig Keener. Originally published on his blog on Huffington Post, reposted with permission.

I have been saving for the right time my likely one good shot at the subject of non-Trump evangelicals, and it looks like now is a good moment. The publication of Stephen Mansfield’s Choosing Donald Trump, an attempt to explain why religious conservatives flocked to Donald Trump, seems like the right moment (see Mansfield). Like Mansfield, I am a non-Trump evangelical.

I thus get a little sensitive when people complain that “evangelicals,” as if a monolithic group, stand behind Trump. I seek to respect the office of president and love my neighbor, including presidents I disagree with. But I did not vote for Trump, yet theologically I am plainly evangelical.

Within evangelicalism, I undoubtedly live too sheltered a life. Polls show that of self-declared evangelicals who voted, 80 percent voted for Donald Trump, and it appears that most of them still support him.

Continue reading Millions of Evangelicals Did Not Vote for Trump – and I’m One of Them

Is Pentecostalism Doing More for Africa’s Poor than International NGOs?

Review originally published at the LSE Africa Blog. Reposted with permission.

Gregory Deacon of Oxford University says that the book Pentecostalism and Development: Churches, NGOs and Social Change in Africa (edited by Dena Freeman) provides some compelling answers regarding Pentecostalism and development.

With its noisy churches and high profile media presence, Pentecostalism is religion writ large and exciting. Dramatic claims are made – for example that it is ‘redrawing the religious map of the world’.[1] Dena Freeman’s edited volume tackles head on whether this is good or bad for development. This is done in the context of 30 years of neoliberalism and an explosion in numbers of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as Pentecostal churches. The role of both in alleviating poverty and improving living conditions for Africans is considered.

Over the past three decades, Pentecostal Christianity has exploded across Africa. At the same time many secular development agencies, including the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), have been struggling to incorporate religion and faith based organisations into their policies and processes. As a research fellow at the University of Oxford looking at religion and development, I have similarly found Pentecostalism impossible to ignore. Continue reading Is Pentecostalism Doing More for Africa’s Poor than International NGOs?

Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice