Category Archives: Politics

Justice as Electoral Praxis: A Hope for Florida, Latina Evangélicas and Election 2020

By Elizabeth D. Rios, EdD, DMin.

The Latino/a growing population continues to increase in North America and their importance to elections has increased as well. While some parties are doing a far better job of reaching out to this community, the reality is we are not the same and we certainly do not think the same. We are not a monolith and it would be erroneous to assume as much. Due to this reality, election 2020 will prove to be just as much a nail-biting spectacle as was the 2016 election or most any election in Florida for that matter. The expectation that Latinos are going to deliver major votes to a particular candidate is already being circulated in media.

The Problem with Florida

Florida has a population of 21.99 million residents and about 20.5% of that group are Latino/as. 70% of the total population in Florida identify as practicing a Christian-based faith. Latino/as make up 1 in 4 Floridians making them the largest minority group in Florida and 22% of them identify as Evangelical Protestant with other categories making up the 71% of religious Latinos in Florida. The fastest growing county in Florida is where I live, Broward County.

I have wanted to move during election time. You see, if you are in the U.S. you already know that Florida is a huge battleground state that always seems to get on the news for some fiasco. Perhaps you remember the hanging chands in 2000, or the 3,000 disappearing voters in Palm Beach County and other problems during the 2018 mid-term elections for governor. No matter how you look at it, Florida has had a very rocky road during elections, mostly due to voter suppression and election integrity. I doubt it will be any different this time around. But I do have hope, not in a system but in a people. Just like the politicians, I have hope in some Latinos/as. It is wise to consider this group of people as they are not only the fastest-growing minority group in the nation but also in Florida.  What would be unwise is to assume how they will vote, especially those who identify as evangelicals. We’re complicated. Continue reading Justice as Electoral Praxis: A Hope for Florida, Latina Evangélicas and Election 2020

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

Politics and Bearing False Witness

This week I was disturbed once again by a post made by a well known Christian Evangelist who asserted that Christians who did not support the current administration were demon driven leftists. I have read various other articles also which stated that Christians who did not support President Trump were unsaved. This is labeling theory at work.

What is labeling theory?

Labeling theory is how one group defines another group as deviant. Those defining and labeling others can reduce the humanity, criminalize, or in some way otherize those they do not agree with. Labeling also allows those doing the labeling to control others who might be questioning or wondering, This creates group think and threatens a person’s sense of belonging. This tactic also creates division in the body of Christ. And real people with real thoughts, beliefs and opinions are dismissed. The body of Christ becomes less thoughtful.

Essentially labeling is setting up a false witness or testimony against one’s brother or sister in Christ to bolster self or validate one’s group. In this case it is the group that has God behind them. If a given Christian does not toe the political party line of a given faith community, then they are unsaved, or demon possessed. This does not require a relationship or knowing a person’s faith walk or allegiance to Jesus Christ nor does this require an understanding of how one has come to various beliefs. It does not take into account the deep study or conscience or experience of other believers who disagree. All those who are labeled as unsaved or demon possessed are lumped into a box and assumed to hold all of the same views as the candidate for party they voted for.

The Amplified Bible says it this way, “You shall not testify falsely [that is, lie, withhold, or manipulate the truth] against your neighbor (any person).” Exodus 20:16 AMP. This actually happens a lot in politics as real human beings are otherized, discounted and then dismissed.

And many have felt alienated within the body of Christ.

Many under 30 and 40 have deep concerns about climate change, real concerns about immigration, oppression and exploitation be it sexually or among corporations. These real concerns are unheard, discounted and once again labeled as part of some sort of communist, leftist or socialist agenda to take over the world. I believe there are real people who have real concerns and they are genuine people of faith who love and follow Jesus with their whole hearts.

And they have found little welcome in churches that continue in this group think and labeling. Some are leaving faith altogether. And as a pastor, I am deeply grieved by this. Many are experiencing a loss of trust toward the church and people of faith. This loss of trust affects all churches in some way.

We once defined a Christian by their relationship with Jesus Christ and the life that flowed from that relationship. Historically Christianity was defined with an essential orthodoxy that included certain core beliefs about the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. In the Charismatic renewal we saw the life of the Spirit flow and people of faith entering into a Spirit empowered life. Currently there is a new orthodoxy emerging among many Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians in the United States. This new orthodoxy is a political one. One must support the GOP platform and God’s “anointed” leader, President Trump. If one does not, they are considered not submissive to Apostolic authority, demon possessed or worse unsaved.

Labeling Theory: Labeling the Educated

I have also noticed how labeling theory is used to discount educated people as if somehow if one is educated one does not live by the Holy Spirit. I get that as the gifts of the Spirit emerged some theologians discounted and labeled pastors and other members of their congregation as fanatics and enthusiasts. That wound is real. However one cannot say that all educated people do not practice, teach and encourage the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I have read many books and listened to many podcasts by great and learned scholars who affirm these gifts and their proper use in the body of Christ.

I wonder sometimes if by labeling these people as unspiritual, we have lost the gifts they bring the church. And what remains is an echo chamber of talk show host theologians.

And talk show theology has become the core theology of many Christians.

I believe that when Jesus died on the cross he was enthroned as the King. And that God is not at this time appointing rulers as he did in the Old Testament and the Kingdom is not coming by political means. Jesus is King of a world-wide, multi-ethnic people who know and follow Jesus. A people who accept his influence and live in the Jesus Way. And the church has moved off the mark and embraced an unholy alliance with the state. Down through history, whenever the church has taken that stance, they have surrendered their witness and joined hands with the Empire.

We must return to the governance of Christ and stop discounting, dismissing and labeling the prophetic voices trying to speak into the body of Christ. We must stop the practices that exclude brothers and sisters in Christ because they vote differently. We must recognize that political parties are of this world and function in the way the world functions.

We as God’s people must always speak prophetically into these political entities, stand up for the vulnerable and participate as good citizens. (And there are other kinds of vulnerable people other than the unborn). We are strangers and aliens in this world, we are of a different kingdom whose salt and light make this world a little more whole. And our influence is not from using power over, but by power through the Spirit as we serve others in the way that Christ did.

 

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!

Hillsong Shouldn’t Put Their Trust in Powerful Men

by Jacob Schönning.

This summer it was reported that the Australian liberal prime minister Scott Morrison was welcomend on  stage at a gigantic Hillsong meeting during their annual conference in Sydney.  He led the congregation of 30-35000 people in prayer and confessed his faith in a miracle working God. Andreas Nielsen, lead pastor of Hillsong Sweden, affirmed that the prime minister ”is a devout Christian”. He also said that that ”his participation in the conference is a recognition of the important role that the church in general plays in Australia and that it makes a difference.”

Fantastic, isn’t it?

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I am not so sure about that. On the contrary, I think that it is very dangerous for the soul of the Church in Australia. Last winter Magnus Malm wrote in Swedish Christian newspaper Dagen that God is not on the side of the powerful. In fact God says in Psalms 146,3: ”Never put your trust in powerful men.”  For centuries, Catholic and Orthodox churches have often been close to political power. That was the case when Spanish and Portuguese conquerors went ashore in South America, and it is the same today in countries like Russia and Poland. Continue reading Hillsong Shouldn’t Put Their Trust in Powerful Men

How Much Presidential Blasphemy Can We Tolerate?

This sentence from The Guardian has to go down in history as completely unimaginable concerning a U.S. president just a few years ago:

Over an ensuing half-hour rant, Trump trucked in antisemitic tropes, insulted the Danish prime minister, insisted he wasn’t racist, bragged about the performance of his former Apprentice reality show, denied starting a trade war with China, praised Vladimir Putin and told reporters that he, Trump, was the “Chosen One” – all within hours of referring to himself as the “King of Israel” and tweeting in all caps: “WHERE IS THE FEDERAL RESERVE?”

What really concerns me is the “Chosen One” and “King of Israel” part. The Guardian even leaves out something even more disturbing, namely that Trump welcomed the comparison between him and the second coming of God:

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A lot has already been written on Trump’s apparent pathological narcissism, and the tweets above provide additional evidence that his view of himself is severely disturbed. Any sane person, regardless of their own religious beliefs, would reject any comparison between themselves and the Creator of the universe. Continue reading How Much Presidential Blasphemy Can We Tolerate?

Pentecostal Spirituality: The Power to Practice (Not Just Believe)

By Elizabeth D. Rios, EdD, DMin (ABD)

I started this article a week ago, but felt something was missing. Today, I found it. I think it was holy indignation!

What sparked this holy anger?

Hearing a well-known, popular, nationally recognized Pentecostal preacher share (on an Instagram clip) on his pulpit that he hates politics. How he doesn’t give a rip about it. How he doesn’t care who is in charge.

He then goes on to say, “You know how we find our help, through Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, the power of the holy ghost. You get involved in that mess, you get involved in offenses. ‘That offends me, well I can’t believe…’ Who gives a rip what they say? I want to know what God says. I’ve lived long enough to be in a place where I am asking the question, is it going to be politics or Pentecost?”

To which you hear the congregation break out into applause. Although it wasn’t overwhelming applause there were still people who actually thought this was responsible preaching. Albeit, he’s been a pastor for decades (and I actually like and know him) but I had to hear it over a few times because I was sad and yes, mad over it. Continue reading Pentecostal Spirituality: The Power to Practice (Not Just Believe)