All posts by pensamientopentecostal

The Difference Between Pentecostalism and Christian Pentecostals

As reflective Pentecostals, we have many concerns about the progress of the movement. We know how much it is growing in the world. We know how many marvelous stories and testimonies we can find in our churches, but also we know about the abuse of power. We know about the general rejection of theology; we know about the unconscious politicization. So when we put all that stuff in balance, we have two options: leave or remain. I have to be honest. I left, a few years ago. Disappointed. Sad.

I couldn’t understand how God was working among people who despise to know him. It took me some years to understand that God works wherever he wants. And also, that the rejection of an intellectual knowledge doesn’t mean rejection of other kinds of knowledge. Then I realized how lost I was. I tried — wrongly — to use all the tools I acquired studying, but I forgot that theology is not merely an intellectual discipline, but a way of life. That is the meaning it had for the first Christians. In other words, I discovered that not only my brothers were unconscious about themselves — so was I. Because I hadn’t understand the core of Pentecostalism. Continue reading The Difference Between Pentecostalism and Christian Pentecostals

How Right-Wing Politicians Captured the Hearts of Pentecostals in Latin America

The last two years have been very important to Latin America concerning the relationship between religion and politics. In fact, there have been three significative cases in which evangelical-pentecostals have shown their will to participate in public debates.

First, there is the case of the 2016 impeachment against progressive president Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, led by the Pentecostal Assemblies of God congressman Eduardo Cunha, who besides belong to the so-called evangelical caucus, strongly conservative.

Second, there is the 2016 case of Peace Agreement in Colombia that intended to be a way to finish the war with FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), in which the Christian and particularly evangelical-pentecostal vote was an important factor for the victory of “no” option. The agreement considered the possibility for FARC to integrate into the political system, but this was not the most problematic issue for evangelicals. The agreement also considered issues like gender inclusion and LGBT demands. Continue reading How Right-Wing Politicians Captured the Hearts of Pentecostals in Latin America

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 People Without a Temple: Pentecostals, Nonviolence and the Chilean-Mapuche Conflict

by Elvis Castro Lagos.

On June 9, 2016, while a small Evangelical congregation in a rural area, about 2 miles from Temuco, La Araucanía, in Chile, was celebrating an evening service, a group of at least 5 people broke in, and shooting in the air with heavy guns drove the parishioners violently out of the building, proceeding to put it to fire. A note left in the site stated: “Christianity, accomplice of repression to Mapuche people”. It was the third evangelical temple burnt, but this case was special since the congregation (most of them Mapuche people) was in the building in the moment of the attack. The suspected perpetrators were imprisoned and are still being prosecuted. Up to this day, near 30 Catholic and Evangelical church buildings have been burnt in different rural sites in La Araucanía.

Continue reading A People Without a Temple: Pentecostals, Nonviolence and the Chilean-Mapuche Conflict

The Politics of Pentecostalism

by Luis Aránguiz Kahn. Originally published at Pensimiento Pentecostal.

Pentecostalism is a movement that surged in the beginning of the 20th century simultaneously in different parts of the world and in the middle of the diversity of the protestant and evangelical churches. In general terms, its social base was made of the poor, marginalized and discriminated. In the case of South America, there were two points of beginning. In Brazil by the hand of Luigi Fransescon, and in Chile it was brought about by Willis Hoover. From there on the movement has expanded geographically to the entire Southern Cone, but it has also had a notable quantitative growth in the different countries in the zone. There has also been an influence from external Pentecostalism, especially from The United States.

By the nature of movement there coexists an ample heterogeneity of churches, practices and believes in the interior of the Pentecostalism. This, in methodological terms, complicates the analysis of the phenomenon and the possibility of offering an explanation that stretches over its diversity. Therefore once more, if we speak in general terms, it is possible to notice that the Pentecostalism has arisen from a political derivation that can reveal itself in two ways, and which will not be unknown to anyone familiar in any way with this type of church.

On the one hand, it is possible to observe the existence of a Pentecostalism which calls itself “apolitical”. Within this category every church and believer would fit who, in the name of a moral dualism which sees the behaviors of non-Christians as mundane, rejects the political field (especially in its partisan version ) by considering it mundane, that is to say sinful. In those who maintain this form of thinking, there exists a tendency to reaffirm the status quo. Even when the political field is avoided, the “apoliticals” tend to champion the political groups which uphold the conservation of order.

In this way, for example, it is not strange to encounter Pentecostals who support anti-Marxist dictatorships in the previous century, as seen in the cases of Guatemala and Chile. In the same way today it is possible to encounter Pentecostals who support parties which are morally conservative, in order to avoid legislations which approve homosexual marriage, abortion and euthanasia. In a certain way, whether they want it or not, the “apoliticism” ends up being more a distant horizon than a way of living, well examples like these show that although one avoids forming parties or participate in them, inevitably one will participate in the public square. Therefore the query that remains is understanding this apoliticism as a fundamentally political act. Continue reading The Politics of Pentecostalism

Chile’s Prophetic Pentecostals that Refused to Support Pinochet

Prophetic pentecostalism: the case, challenges and hopes

by Luis Aranguiz Kahn.

“Prophetic Pentecostalism” is the name that a particular group of Pentecostal believers put to distinguish themselves from the main Pentecostal branch in Chile. So, what was the difference? In first place, it is necessary to say that Pentecostals in Chile has been mainly conservative in terms of politics. Before the coup d’etat of Pinochet, they used to declare themselves “apolitical” to avoid the political struggle between the strong leftwing winds that ultimately took Allende to presidency in 1970 and the rightwing counterpart.

In the middle of this complex political context, appeared a different kind of Pentecostal that was not apolitical but openly leftist. Highly influenced by Liberation Theology, they then faced the dictatorship and at the same time went against the general Pentecostal tide. Meanwhile in 1974 many important leaders of the biggest Pentecostals churches of the country signed a public letter supporting Pinochet, this little group was resisting in its denomination (Mision Iglesia Pentecostal – MIP) and its communities.

Prophetic Pentecostals were also involved in ecumenical activity, something very strange to find in Pentecostals of that time given the many prejudices about the World Council of Churches and the suspicion of some kind of Marxist influence inside it. Those were times of a deep split among Christians. Chile, as a post-colonial State was largely influenced by USA not only in political terms, but also political, cultural and therefore religious. Continue reading Chile’s Prophetic Pentecostals that Refused to Support Pinochet

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. Continue reading Pentecostal Strategies for Saving the Environment