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.
Continue reading Why I as an Activist Love the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians comprise approximately 25 percent of global Christianity (around 600 million of 2.4 billion). This remarkable development has occurred within just the last century and has been called the “pentecostalization” of Christianity. Pentecostals and Charismatics experience Christianity and the world in distinctive ways, and Wipf and Stock’s Pentecostals, Peacemaking, and Social Justice series invites discovery and development of Pentecostal-Charismatic approaches to peacemaking and social justice.
The following books make up the growing series, with more to come.
Continue reading Pentecostals, Peacemaking, and Social Justice
By Joshua Carson
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my preaching classes at seminary this semester, it’s that the events of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday sometimes require a change in what a congregation needs to hear on Sunday, supplanting what the preacher may have planned to preach earlier in the week. As a youth pastor, I knew that my recent evening message to our students had to change, given that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had carried out terror attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris, France, on Friday, 44 people in Beirut, Lebanon, on Thursday, and 224 people on a flight out of Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh airport on October 31. I knew that our students were thinking, talking, posting, and tweeting about these events, and that they have grown more globally conscious over the last few years in praying for worldwide events.
Continue reading Responding to Acts of Extreme Violence
“When I tweeted about the need to address gun violence after the college shooting in the Roseburg, Oregon, a man named Bob pushed back. ‘Check out car accident deaths,’ he tweeted sarcastically. ‘Guess we should ban cars.’ Actually, cars exemplify the public health approach we need to apply to guns. We don’t ban cars, but we do require driver’s licenses, seat belts, air bags, padded dashboards, safety glass and collapsible steering columns. And we’ve reduced the auto fatality rate by 95 percent.”
It turns out that principled pacifism is not the sole province of Mennonites. Jay Beaman and Brian Pipkin have uncovered a wealth of documents that testify to the peace commitments of other American religious groups. They have compiled them in a sourcebook entitled Pentecostal and Holiness Statements on War and Peace.
Did you know that Pentecostal denominations have not always been militaristic? For example, during WWI, Pentecostals widely professed pacifism, the active promotion of peace, and resisted participation in warfare.