Pentecostal Strategies for Saving the Environment

by Luis Aranguiz Kahn. Part 4 of 4. Read the whole article as a PDF here.

Let us end this series with some conclusions and concerns. Pentecostals have notably matured since they began. They have the potential to do great things in societies. If they become aware and reflect more on ecological matters, they could be a strong agent of influence and change. This is a long process that has already begun. What would happen if we mix radical morality, poverty and exploitation experience, political holiness, ecological concern, and spirit-baptized human strength focused on the problem of creation as a spirit-baptized one?

Let’s see some aspects in which this possible new Pentecostal LatinAmerican Eco theology ethics could engage. Some global ecological issues we can name are, for instance, carbon dioxide emissions, creating a renewable energy future and the social cost of energy. In the first place, Pentecostals can do a great influence calling for carbon equity policies by requesting the creation of jobs while demanding a decrease in the impact of air pollution, an improvement in economic conditions and climate resiliency for the poor. The most polluted cities in the region like Bogotá, Lima, Santiago, Montevideo and Cochabamba, are part of countries with a strong Pentecostal presence and big national churches must take part in this discussion to work on fighting against pollution.

In another way, if Pentecostals develop a larger and stronger reflection about ecology, would it be possible for them to discuss to invest 5% of their investments into climate solutions to end energy poverty with clean energy? It is one of the most important questions regarding the economic power that different Pentecostal denominations have reached. In the present, Pentecostals are near to 13% of total population (560 million people) in Latin America. In all countries it is possible to find big national churches that are economically strong. If leadership of these organizations assumes a commitment with energy ethics, they not only could mobilize thousands and thousands of believers but a lot of economic resources to work in climate solutions and clean energy.

Pentecostal churches could support the 1.5°C temperature rise limit endorsed by the Paris Agreement and be not only advocates, but a group that pleads for the establishment of fossil fuel industry liability for climate impacts, creating funds to support adaptation in vulnerable regions. This is a fundamental engagement in which they can start to work to reduce climate impacts in the region and in their particular countries.

Latin America is a big territory, composed by many countries with different energy concerns. However, there are some common problems that can no longer wait and that deserve urgent attention from Pentecostal communities as part of their societies. We have above 100 million LatinAmericans without access to electric energy. In times of regional drought many hydroelectric plants have to severely rationing their water reserves. These and other problems are a signal for a need of regional planning. One of the main reasons that block this is the deregulation. What can Pentecostals and Pentecostal churches do about it?

Churches and believers are not only people with beliefs, they are also citizens, and they inhabit a territory, a country. They are part not only of a region, but part of a society. In this sense, here is a need of summing forces; Pentecostals have an historical opportunity to be part of this. Even though some may not have economic power, they can influence political matters to foster their States support of an international agreement. Pentecostal faith, as we have seen through this brief text, can be a strong theological frame to encourage changes in this context through an active political ecological holiness.

These, among many others, are concrete issues which Pentecostal believers and churches could start to think about from a Pentecostal LatinAmerican Eco theology ethic. If it has not happened before, perhaps it is precisely the time in which Pentecostals can start to go deeper, not only in their theology itself, but in engaging it with the urgent problems in our societies. And what better than doing so starting from and going with the Holy Spirit’s strength? This is the time: this is a call. This is a commitment from God to his church; from the Holy Spirit to the believers. It is time for Pentecostals to assume that the Spirit that lives in their hearts also lives in the creation of God, and it is a historical time to fight for it. This is the time for an ecological political holiness Pentecostal revival.

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LUIS ARÁNGUIZ KAHN holds a degree in Spanish Literature and a minor in theology from the Catholic University of Chile, and is currently completing a master’s degree in International Studies at the University of Santiago, Chile. He has worked academically in texts and lectures on literature and religion, evangelical analysis of political discourse in Chile and my master’s thesis will be in the general field of evangelicals and international politics. Luis comes from a family of traditional Chilean Pentecostalism and was a university leader at a Pentecostal youth group and a preacher at his local congregation. He is the editor of Pensamiento Pentecostal.

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