All posts by pcpjwriter

PCPJ is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world.

Occupation and Covid: A Strange Christmas in Bethlehem

Guest blog by our friends at Churches for Middle East Peace, originally published here.

Bethlehem, considered the cradle of Christianity, is perhaps one of Earth’s most special places to embrace the Christmas spirit. Located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, it’s the “little town” where Jesus was born, and it attracts thousands of pilgrims at Christmas. 

Christians have flocked to Bethlehem for centuries to celebrate the Christmas season, and each year the city hosts approximately one million tourists. 

A Sacred City for Three Religions

Bethlehem is the site of the Church of the Nativity, an underground cave where Christians believe Mary gave birth to Jesus. A 14-pointed silver star beneath an altar that the emperor Constantine the Great and his mother Helena had built around the year 338 marks the spot, and the stone church is a key pilgrimage site for Christians and Muslims alike.

Continue reading Occupation and Covid: A Strange Christmas in Bethlehem

True prophecy in an age of deception

A sermon by Bob Ekblad, originally published on his blog. You can listen to the audio version here.

Fear and anxiety abound in these days of global pandemic, a US presidential election, natural disasters related to climate change, and economic insecurity. People are searching for explanations, advice as to how to best prepare, spiritual direction, and prophetic counsel. There’s a vulnerability to deception, and false prophecy abounds, visible in declarations endorsing candidates, conspiracy theories like QAnon, and political promises and prognoses.

Jesus offers strong warnings to his disciples:

“See to it that no one misleads you. “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many” (Mat 24:4-5)

These “many” who come in Jesus’ name who “mislead many” can include those who claim to be Christian prophets themselves—even a majority of them.

In a number of places in the Old Testament hundreds of “court” prophets stand with Israel’s King, over-and-against a lone prophet who speaks for God. Each king of Israel was anointed by a prophet and called Messiah/Christ (meaning “anointed”). God’s prophets brought words of challenge, direction and rebuke—unless they were co-opted, which has largely happened now in the USA.

Continue reading True prophecy in an age of deception

The Problem with Mixing Church and Government

by Greg Boyd.

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.

Continue reading The Problem with Mixing Church and Government

The People that Brought Me to Jesus Betrayed Me

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.

Continue reading The People that Brought Me to Jesus Betrayed Me

Biblical Justice: Making Things Right

by Katie McRoberts. Originally published at the blog of Churches for Middle East Peace, reposted with permission.

Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. In those letters she wrote:

“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard. 1 Kings 21:7-10, 15-16

While many consider the stories of the Old Testament, often framed by punishment and retribution, to be an example of God’s justice, the reality is that a comprehensive picture of justice is much more complicated. The Bible shows justice as not only an appropriate consequence for sin but also as an expression of appropriate concern for others. Righteousness before God means being in right relationship not only with God but others as well. Continue reading Biblical Justice: Making Things Right

When National Anthems Become Worship Songs

by Ramone Romero.

Some years ago I learned about “Kimigayo”, the Japanese national anthem. It’s about the emperor, and due to its use in the war, many people from Asian nations object to it, as well as some from various religions (including many conservative Christians) who feel that it comes too close to worshiping the emperor.

Sometimes people show their objection to the anthem by sitting while it is playing. Some teachers have refused to stand or play piano for it at schools, and as a result have gotten in trouble with officials.

Knowing about things the Japanese army did during the war, as well as the nationalist propaganda that led up to it, I’ve always felt people should have the right to not stand up for Kimigayo. Especially if they want to protest in view of the atrocities committed by the army across Asia.

I feel the same about America. No one should be forced to stand for the anthem, especially if they are protesting the atrocities committed by America — such as those against Black people and Natives, and from endless American wars abroad. Continue reading When National Anthems Become Worship Songs

Why Christians Should Support the Marches Against Racism

by Craig S. Keener, originally published on his blog.

One of my recent posts showed the local protest march in which my wife and I participated, and which our teenage daughter helped organize. One honest question has come up so often in response that I want to address it here.

Would Jesus have attended such a march, some have asked? Marching in parades aside, some feel that marching for racial justice, for the unborn or for other specific causes that suggest protest are inconsistent with proper Christian meekness. (I am assuming that those asking the question are also pacifists, since violence, and especially lethal violence, seems much less meek than nonviolent protests.) So, in consultation with my daughter Keren, I offer the following considerations.

keener_family
The Keener family

Why march?

First, it may be helpful to note the purpose of marching. Marching commands public attention in the way that individual voices often cannot. It also provides solidarity for the hurting and fearful. It lets them know that they are not alone; for the sake of the unity of the church that has too long been divided by race, now is an opportunity for non-black Christians to stand with our African-American brothers and sisters. Continue reading Why Christians Should Support the Marches Against Racism

Fundamentalism & Nationalism: Two Dominant Heresies in American Christianity

by Maximus Nyssen.

As I continue to survey the American Christian landscape regarding responses to the coronavirus pandemic, my disappointment and bewilderment grows daily. Much of the responses from the Evangelical community – and especially those within the Pentecostal-Charismatic framework – have been frankly dangerous, conspiratorial, hyper partisan, scientifically illiterate and theologically bankrupt.

There are two dominant heresies alive in American Christianity today, which would be fundamentalism and nationalism.

Fundamentalism advocates an entirely unhistorical theological viewpoint that the Bible is a scientific textbook, and that any scientific hypothesis, theory, or fact that “opposes” some supposed scientific principle believed to be written in the Bible must be rejected as some sort of atheist attack on the faith.

This is a fairly modern heresy, one that entirely rejects historical theological discovery and exegetical studies, and only really came into prominence in the earlier part of the 20th Century. No one in antiquity, the early church, or the vast majority of the history of the Church held to any notion of fundamentalism.

Nationalism advocates the view that America is God’s “special nation” and that this nation is the best nation that’s ever existed anywhere, and implicitly propagates that all other nations, peoples, and races have something defective, lacking, wrong, or even evil in them. Continue reading Fundamentalism & Nationalism: Two Dominant Heresies in American Christianity

God’s Non-Violent Ideal in the Old Testament

By Greg Boyd, originally published on his blog ReKnew.

While God condescended to working within the violent-prone, fallen framework of his people in the Old Testament (OT)—as I argue in Crucifixion of the Warrior God—the OT is also full of references to how God worked to preserve his non-violent ideal as much as possible. He did this by continually reminding his people not to place any trust in the sword, but to rather place all their trust him.

For example, as Judah was facing impending doom, the Lord told Hosea that he would save them “not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I the LORD their God will save them” (Hos 1:7).

So too, through the Psalmist the Lord encourages his people by saying:

        Do not put your trust in princes,

        in human beings, who cannot save.

        When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;

        on that very day their plans come to nothing.

        Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,

        whose hope is in the LORD their God (Ps. 146:3-5).

Continue reading God’s Non-Violent Ideal in the Old Testament

The Baffling Errors of The Trump Prophecies

As another presidential election is on its way in the US, Christian Trump supporters are stepping up. At Charisma Magazine and other Trump-friendly Christian media houses, the president’s major character flaws, lies, and hurtful policies are swept under the rug and instead it is emphasized that he’s doing the will of God and that it was prophesized that he would be president.

Yes, prophecized.

And while it is possible that God informed prophetic Christians that Trump would be president in order to just inform (or even warn) them, this is often taken to mean that God really likes Trump’s presidency and that his people should vote for him again.

William de Arteaga takes a closer look in Pneuma Review at the most important Trump prophecies people constantly refer to – the ones shared by Mark Taylor – and shows that there’s a lot in there that are factually incorrect and morally dubious.

Hardly the work of the Almighty God.

Here’s an excerpt from the article: Continue reading The Baffling Errors of The Trump Prophecies