How does science relate to the supernatural? This intriguing question is one of the issues that professor Candy Gunther Brown at Indiana University has been researching. An expert on the international Pentecostal and charismatic movement, she has been particularly interested in Christian supernaturalism in the Global South, which broadly corresponds to Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Micael Grenholm of PCPJ got the chance to conduct an interview her.
The Pentecostal and charismatic movements have a bad reputation among Christian anarchists and activists. There are too many examples of healing evangelists who control the masses through manipulation and hysteria, with promises of supernatural encounters only to gain money and status for themselves. Furthermore, many Pentecostals and charismatics support nationalism, war, discrimination and inequalities. They bless the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, they preach a prosperity gospel where strong faith leads to great wealth, they deny climate change and don’t care about the environment.
Yet, I am totally convinced that every Christian activist should embrace the gifts of the Spirit and pursue signs and wonders. Why? Because the mess I just described is of course not genuine a fruit of the Spirit, it is a result of what I call the Corinth Syndrome, when charismatic Christians portray their own crazy ideas and practices as divinely inspired.
The church at Corinth was experiencing charismatic chaos; they loved spiritual manifestations and everyone spoke in tongues simultaneously, but they showed no care for the poor and some were living in sexual immorality. Paul’s solution to the Corinthian problem is not commanding them to be less charismatic; on the contrary, he urges them to seek the gifts even more! However, he emphasizes that this must be done in order and in love.