All posts by Micael Grenholm

Pastor, author and charismactivist residing in Uppsala, Sweden. Editor for Hela Pingsten and pcpj.org. Love revival, peace, justice and evangelism.

How Nationalism and Inequality Makes the Coronavirus Crisis Even Worse

As the new coronavirus spreads across the world there is a big risk of it becoming a full-blown pandemic, killing tens of thousands if not millions of people. The complaint of the World Health Organization is that many countries are ill-prepared for handling this.

It’s not hard to see why.

Two things are crucial for stopping an infectious disease before it transforms into a pandemic: international cooperation and universal health care of good quality. When these are missing, the likelihood of certain areas around the world becoming infection hubs increases, which in turn spreads the disease uncontrollably.

In a worst-case scenario, between 60 and 80 percent of the global population might get infected by the new coronavirus, killing tens of millions.

Unfortunately, there are two trends that go against international cooperation and universal health care – one ideological and one economic. I’m thinking of nationalism and economic inequality. Continue reading How Nationalism and Inequality Makes the Coronavirus Crisis Even Worse

Did Jesus Really Not Come to Address Global Hunger?

I was recently published in the Christian Post where I argued that Christians should live simply, generously and sustainably to address global hunger. Three million children die annually, while the rest of the world has much more food than we need (and throw away large portions of it).

I didn’t expect much opposition to what I wrote, but it turns out that in some evangelical circles, feeding the hungry is a sensitive topic.

Jeff Maples at Reformation Charlotte wrote a passionate response in which he, among other things, calls me a heretic and say that I preach a demonic message that might lead to me losing my salvation. Let’s see if he has any Biblical support for these accusations:

Evangelicals are lining up at the door trying to make the case that Jesus is all about a socialistic government that makes everyone equal. One of the stupidest articles I’ve seen in a long time is an article recently published at the Christian Post by Micael Grenholm titled How would Jesus respond to global hunger? In the article, while he doesn’t use the word “socialism,” Grenholm argues that Jesus taught a form of socialism based on the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31.

Maples is right about me not mentioning socialism. I also don’t mention governments. How Maples reaches the conclusion that my point with the article is that “Jesus is all about a socialistic government” is therefore quite a mystery. Continue reading Did Jesus Really Not Come to Address Global Hunger?

Holiness, Healing and Helping the Poor: The Ministry of Nelly Hall

In a time where it was controversial at best and impossible at worst for a woman to preach, Swedish evangelist Nelly Hall (1848-1916) gathered crowds of thousands of people as she preached about salvation, holiness and discipleship.

She was part of the holiness movement, and according to church historian David Bundy, the Holiness Union of Sweden would probably not have existed without her (1).

After being inspired by the preaching of American Methodist evangelist William E. Boardman, and after visiting the Salvation Army’s headquarters in London, Hall decided to become a full-time preacher (2).

For 20 years she traveled around Sweden, Norway, Germany, and the US. As she preached the Gospel, she also prayed for healing. Opera singer Ida Nihlén joined her to sing hymns and Gospel songs.

She was a frequent speaker at the Torp conference, a center for revivalist spirituality in central Sweden that still occurs annually to this day, gathering thousands of believers.

Bundy concludes:

”From the Holiness revivalists in London, she brought elements of social justice and ministry to the poor, the freedom of women to preach and teach, the use of healing as an evangelistic tool, and the understanding of baptism in the Holy Spirit as a gift of God that transcended denominational boundaries as well as an international network of ministry.”(3)

Hall clearly shows us that it’s not only possible to combine a charismatic, evangelistic ministry with a passion for justice and women’s rights – it’s the best way to do ministry!

Micael Grenholm is a Swedish pastor, author, and editor for PCPJ.

ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & 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!

References

(1) David Bundy, Visions of Apostolic Mission, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2009, p. 114.

(2) Gunner, Gunilla, “Nelly Amalia Hall”, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon, https://skbl.se/sv/artikel/NellyHall

(3) Bundy, Visions, pp. 114-115.

Trump’s Israel-Palestine Deal Won’t Lead to Peace – and He Knows It

I think most of us can agree that peace is a good thing.

Yes, many support either Israel or Palestine as if they were soccer teams, but regardless of your political and eschatological views, you’re probably with me if I say that it would be good with less death and destruction in the Middle East.

The fact that many children have died in the conflict is a problem. A devastating, serious problem that needs to be solved.

And yes, Israel-supporters will blame most of the deaths on the Palestinians and Palestine-supporters will blame most of the deaths on Israel. I know.

But regardless of blame, guilt and revenge-lust, we have a problem in the Holy Land. And the solution is peace.

Conflict is usually based on the incompatibility of goals; when two or more parties want the same thing. In order to resolve it, we need compromises, trade-offs, and sacrifices.

This is how all peace negotiations work. The parties meet halfway, nobody gets exactly what they wanted but in exchange for the costs, they receive a more peaceful and stable environment.

Continue reading Trump’s Israel-Palestine Deal Won’t Lead to Peace – and He Knows It

Did God Really Want Billionaires in His World?

Ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Oxfam has released a devastating report that unveils the extreme economic inequality of our world today. The report shows, among other things:

  • The 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa.
  • Women and girls put in 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day —a contribution to the global economy of at least $10.8 trillion a year, more than three times the size of the global tech industry.
  • Getting the richest one percent to pay just 0.5 percent extra tax on their wealth over the next 10 years would equal the investment needed to create 117 million jobs in sectors such as elderly and childcare, education and health.

Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar commented on the report by saying:

“Women and girls are among those who benefit least from today’s economic system. They spend billions of hours cooking, cleaning and caring for children and the elderly. Unpaid care work is the ‘hidden engine’ that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving. It is driven by women who often have little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how our societies are run, and who are therefore trapped at the bottom of the economy.

“Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist”.

Continue reading Did God Really Want Billionaires in His World?

Why Did Jesus Tell His Disciples to Buy Swords?

Why did Jesus command his disciples to buy swords in Luke 22:38?

Now, however,” He told them, “the one with a purse should take it, and likewise a bag; and the one without a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about Me is reaching its fulfillment.”

So they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That is enough,” He answered. (Lk 22:36-38)

A lot of people assume that it was in order to defend themselves, and use this as an argument for warfare and liberal gun laws. But if it’s one thing we can be sure of, it is that Jesus definitely didn’t intend the swords to be used for self-defense.

Continue reading Why Did Jesus Tell His Disciples to Buy Swords?

How the Holy Spirit Supernaturally Helps Drug Addicts in Hong Kong

global-pentecostalism.jpgIn their book Global Pentecostalism, sociologists Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori study what they label “Progressive Pentecostals”, Spirit-filled Christians who have an active social ministry to help people around them.

This is a growing phenomenon, especially in the Majority World. We have previously interviewed Dr. Miller about the exciting potentiality of Pentecostals and Charismatics to promote peace and justice.

The fourth chapter of the book looks at how Pentecostal faith transforms individuals and societies. Miller and Yamamori describe their visit to St. Stephen’s Society, Jackie Pullinger’s ministry in Hong Kong that shares the Gospel and helps drug addicts.

They were astonished to see what appeared to be supernatural intervention in the lives of these people:

”The remarkable thing in the testimony of these ex-addicts, however, was that they often reported the withdrawal process to be painless, or nearly painless, which is completely different from the wrenching process that addicts typically experience in prison or even in a hospital.” (p. 100)

”Something was happening to these individuals at the deepest level of their being. In our interviews with them, they claimed that the Holy Spirit had entered their bodies and a process of spiritual transformation was initiated.

They confessed that they didn’t know what was happening when they first spoke in tongues, but the fact that they came off drugs with little or no pain was so unusual that they acknowledged that a divine power was at work.” (p. 104)

Continue reading How the Holy Spirit Supernaturally Helps Drug Addicts in Hong Kong

A Decade of Disaster

As the 2010s are wrapping up, I can’t help but view the past ten years as a disaster. Around the world, there has been a rise of authoritarian nationalism, unlike anything we’ve seen since the end of World War Two. A movement that not only hates migration but also romanticizes war and inequality while disregarding climate change. This is particularly true of the “Western world”, but also of countries like Brazil and Russia.

As a Charismatic Christian, Acts 2 is of course one of my favourite Bible passages. What I read about there contrasts radically with my impression of the 2010s. I read about the Holy Spirit making people able to communicate across linguistic and cultural barriers, but around me I see xenophobia and wall-building. I read about nobody being rich or poor, but around me I see global inequality growing and climate change threatening to kill hundreds of millions in developing countries. I read about people being saved every day, but around me I see millions of millennials leaving the evangelical church as it has grown tired of hypocrisy and judgmentalism.

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I think about the heroes of faith who went home to the Lord this decade. Evangelist Billy Graham, who warned against marrying the evangelical faith to the political right and getting involved in partisan politics. Theologian John Stott who emphasized the importance of social justice in Christian discipleship. Missionary and healing evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, who was burning with passion for the salvation of millions of people with other skin colors and citizenships of his own.

We have inherited something beautiful from them and millions of other evangelical women and men who have gone before us. Will it all be wasted? As nationalism and partisanship grow, missionary zeal and biblical discipleship will most likely diminish. Everyone can see the difference between Jesus and Trump if they’re honest to themselves and to God.

“Evangelical” means to follow the evangelion, the Good News. Charismatic means to be filled with Spiritual gifts. We are called to follow the Sermon on the Mount – loving our enemies, helping the poor, doing to others as we would have them do to us – in the power of the Holy Spirit. If charismatic evangelicals instead choose to praise nationalism and inequality, the result will be disastrous for our movement. Not only do we fail at doing what Jesus called us to do – the younger generation, who march around the world for climate justice and peace on earth, will go elsewhere.

But there is hope. The Kingdom of God is spreading rapidly in the Majority World. There, Pentecostals and Charismatics value peace and justice to a much larger degree. Two of them even won the Nobel Peace Prize. While some “southern” Charismatics and Evangelicals are swept into partisan politics just as their “northern” counterparts, many make sure to base their Christian values in Scripture rather than in conservative rhetoric. In these nations, Acts 2 is being lived out in various ways, and loads of people are being saved as a result.

So even though the 2010s saddens me, I have hope for the 2020s. I hope for a new revival over the West, where chains to human-made ideologies will be broken and when we will passionately follow the Sermon on the Mount. The Holy Spirit has done so before, let us unite in prayer for him to do it again!

Micael Grenholm is a Swedish pastor, author and editor for PCPJ.

ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & 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!

Pacifism’s Hardest Choice and the Doctor’s Dilemma

If a violent man attacked your family, what would you do? Probably every Christian pacifist has been confronted with this question. The purpose of the question is to make the pacifist realize that violence is sometimes necessary: no matter how much you want to love your enemies, you may face situations in which refusal to use violence will lead to the harm or even death of people you love.

As John Howard Yoder points out in his book What Would You Do?, the questions is emotional. The attacker is always an anonymous man, and when the family members are specified, they are almost always a mother, daughter or wife. The one posing the question wants as little emotional bonds to the attacker as possible, while the opposite is true for the one being attacked.

Reality, of course, is not as simplistic. Most violence against women is conducted by people they know well. Questions that have even more relevance to what we might actually experience in life would be: what would you do if your son attacked his wife? Or what would you do if your mentally sick friend attacked an innocent stranger? But of course, these questions cannot easily be solved with “I use violence and everything become alright!” and so are left out of the picture. Continue reading Pacifism’s Hardest Choice and the Doctor’s Dilemma

The Pentecostal Faith of Abiy Ahmed

Today, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed receives his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. We’re very excited here at Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice since this is the second time in a row that a Pentecostal is being awarded this prestigious prize.

Some have the impression that Ahmed is hiding his Pentecostal faith for diplomatic reasons: his nation is divided among both ethnic and religious lines. I recently spoke to Dr Jörg Haustein at Cambridge University who is an expert on Ethiopian Pentecostalism. He told me this wasn’t exactly the case.

Bildresultat för jörg haustein
Dr. Jörg Haustein

“I don’t think he de-emphasizes his Pentecostal faith, but he’s very aware of which audience he is speaking to”, Dr. Haustein says. “There are videos on YouTube, not put up by him but by others, where he’s very Pentecostal in his rhetoric. He knows how to employ his faith in a more plural religiously appealing manner, but it’s also empowering him in the bold things that he’s done. He actually feels that he’s doing God’s work, and that this is what he needs to be doing at this time.”

Ahmed is actually not the first Pentecostal Prime Minister of Ethiopia, his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn was a Oneness Pentecostal. Dr. Haustein has previously researched his faith and rise to power. I ask him how Pentecostals ended up as top politicians in the country. Continue reading The Pentecostal Faith of Abiy Ahmed