These days, love of God is often mixed up with love of country, patriotism and national pride. This was not the case with most early Pentecostals. In line with their pacifism, many influential Spirit-filled leaders criticized patriotism and nationalism. Here are some examples:
Charles Fox Parham (4 June 1873 – c. 29 January 1929) was an American preacher who was instrumental in the formation of Pentecostalism.
The past order of civilization was upheld by the power of nationalism, which in turn was upheld by the spirit of patriotism, which divided the peoples of the world by geographical boundaries, over which each fought the other until they turned the world into a shamble. The ruling power of this old order has always been the rich, who exploited the masses for profit or drove them en masse to war, to perpetuate their misrule.
The principle teachers of patriotism maintaining nationalism were the churches, who have lost their spiritual power and been forsaken of God. Thus, on the side of the old order in the coming struggle, will be arrayed the governments, the rich, and the churches, and whatever forces they can drive or patriotically inspire to fight for them. On the other hand the new order that rises out of the sea of humanity knows no national boundaries, believing in the universal brotherhood of mankind and the establishment of the teachings of Jesus Christ as a foundation for all laws, whether political or social.
Charles F. Parham, Everlasting Gospel, pp. 27-28. Continue reading Early Pentecostals on Patriotism and Nationalism
Immigration is often in the news, but over the last several weeks, it has been discussed at a higher frequency than usual when information about the Trump administration’s policies on immigration to the United States (especially from Mexico and Central America) came to light.
Many of the policies embraced by the Trump administration are not unique to current administration. The Obama administration deported many foreign nationals and migrants, and they were following precedents set by the Bush administration. In addition, the first significant jump in deportations took place under the administration of Bill Clinton, while Hillary Clinton went so far as to support a double-layered border fence (in addition to other increased border security measures). Over the last 20 years, they have progressively become standard US policy on illegal immigration from Latin American nations. However, a recent story shows that this can also affect people from Canada who cross the border outside of a legal port of entry.
What makes this issue particularly relevant for Christians — and those of us at Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice — is that Attorney General Jeff Sessions invoked the Bible in defense of these sorts of policies. Sessions is correct that most Biblical scholars understand Romans 13:1-7 to be discussing submission to governing authorities. Christians, who are supposed to love our enemies (Romans 12:17-19, 13:8-10), are supposed to love the state that persecutes them (as would have been the case in Paul’s context). This passage is not about blind allegiance to governmental policies that may be unfair, unjust, or unholy. Continue reading The Bible on Immigration: Jeff Sessions Has It Wrong
I have been listening carefully to the immigration debates and discussions in this country and have come to the realization that most everyday people do not have a clear grasp of how our immigration system works and how it affects those migrating to the US. While not an expert, I have taken a 40 hour class on Immigration Law and can explain some of the rudimentary elements of our system.
First, when we hear about immigration on the news, the various categories of immigration are lumped together and important distinctions between a refugee, and asylee, and TPS are seldom made, making it confusing for people to grasp the implications for our country. I wish to lay out some simplified definitions and answer some of the questions I often hear everyday folks ask. Know that immigration includes many different categories and these are only three. (Home Land Security Chart on differences between refugees and asylee)
What is a Refugee?
A refugee is someone who leaves their country because of war or conflict and can show that he or she has a credible fear of persecution, on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion in their country of origin. A refugee often leaves his or her own country and travels to a refugee camp where they reside until at which time either their country of origin is safe once again or they are assigned a country that will take them in and help them resettle. Continue reading Overview: Refugees, Asylees, and TPS
American foreign policy is always in the news. After all, the United States currently has the largest military in the world, and frequently serves as the globe’s police force through alliances such as the United Nations and NATO. The recent appointment of John Bolton as National Security Adviser for the Trump administration simply reinforces this as Bolton was very supportive of the US invasion of Iraq and supports further military aggression towards Iran and North Korea.
On that last point, the Korean War also happens to be in the news again in response to recent nuclear testing by the North and now peace talks in Korea between both Korean nations.
War is in the news. It usually is, and I don’t see any chance of that changing any time soon. It is very unfortunate, but those of us in Christian peace and nonviolence organizations also have to talk about war. This is a great sin in our world, and it expresses the spirit of the Wicked One rather than the spirit of the Anointed One. Continue reading Conquering the World Through Love
This weekend, activist theologian Shane Claiborne and his friends at Red Letter Christians will arrange a Red Letter Revival in Lynchburg, Virginia. That’s right, the town where Liberty University, the world’s biggest Christian university whose president Jerry Falwell Jr. is a passionate Trump supporter.
The Revival will be themed “Jesus and Justice” and include sermons, worship and workshops on how to fight Trumpism by going back to the Sermon on the Mount. I got the chance to speak with Shane Claiborne on this historic event.
– The reason we do the Lynchburg Revival is that Christianity and Republicanism have been fused together, Shane Claiborne says. They have become almost indistinguishable from each other. When you have the First Baptist Church in Dallas singing ”Make America Great Again” as if it was a hymn in worship, when the American flag is bigger than the cross, what happens is that you begin to see a discrepancy between the values of America and the values inherent to the Gospel. Continue reading Shane Claiborne: Trump is the Result of American Idolatry
Yesterday, PCPJ’s director Erica Ramirez and professor Leah Payne were published in the Washington Post as they explained the Pentecostal-charismatic support for Donald Trump.
They note that while several evangelical Trump supporters were initially skeptical to the candidate, Pentecostals and charismatics who support him did so early on. They identify five reasons why American P&Cs might have had an easier time accepting Trump as a great president compared to other Christians:
- Pentecostal-Charismatic celebrity culture
- Prosperity teaching
- Lowbrow know-how (anti-institutionalism)
- Monarchy Theology
We really recommend you to read the article in its entirety at Washington Post. Below is an excerpt from the last point, on how Trump is viewed as a divinely appointed monarch:
When Pentecostal-Charismatic advisers to Trump talk about their role in this divine drama, it is as godly intercessors on the president’s behalf.
From this vantage point, it hardly matters whether Trump behaves morally, won the popular vote or even colluded with Russia. Trump is not just a leader selected by the people: he is an intervention — God’s anointed, divinely elevated ruler. Actually, the sheer unlikeliness of Trump’s win fits the Pentecostal-Charismatic imagination for miraculous intervention, and moves Trump far above the reach of critique.
When viewed through the prism of Pentecostal-Charismatic tastes and theologies, the enthusiastic support among the faithful for Donald Trump becomes clear — to them, he’s God’s anointed king.
Pentecostals & 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!
Romans 13:1-8 is a passage that has been used in ways that are unjust. It has been used to justify the divine right of kings, to justify slavery, to justify apartheid and segregation. This text has been used in support of the Just War Theory. It’s still used in the church to justify oppressive policing and discounting of immigrant’s basic human rights. If people would just obey the law, the logic goes, then they will be left alone. But is that what this passage means? Is Paul saying that that all laws are good? Is he saying that all people are treated equally under the law? Is he saying that laws should be obeyed without question? These things are often read into the passage making these verses something like a sword to keep oppressed people in their place. I don’t believe that was Paul’s intent.
Just because a particular action is legal does not mean it is just. As God’s people it’s imperative that we carefully discern and think through texts like these so that we might walk well in the way of Jesus. How shall we view this set of scriptures? Continue reading Re-thinking Romans 13